Judge drops involuntary manslaughter charges against Penn State frat brothers in Tim Piazza's death

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Watch the report from Action News at Noon on March 28, 2018. (WPVI)

For a second time a judge has thrown out involuntary manslaughter charges against Penn State University fraternity brothers related to the February 2017 hazing death of sophomore pledge.

District Judge Allen Sinclair announced his decision Wednesday after three days of testimony. He also dismissed dozens of other charges against the Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers. For some, that means all the charges they faced have been dismissed.

Charges of reckless endangerment and hazing still stand in the case, along with an added charge of conspiracy.

The eleven former members of the now-closed fraternity were involved in a pledge bid acceptance ceremony and party the night of Feb. 2, 2017, during which 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey, consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol and fell several times.

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Penn State grand jury report released after frat hazing death of Timothy Piazza. Watch this report from Action News at 12:30pm on December 15, 2017.



Piazza suffered severe head and abdominal injuries, including a fractured skull and a shattered spleen, and later died at a hospital.

Security video recovered from the house showed that Piazza and other pledges were put through a "gauntlet" of drinking stations, after which they continued to drink in the basement, so much that Piazza had to be led upstairs to a couch while a party raged on around him.

He subsequently stumbled to the basement stairs and fell down them, rendering him unconscious. He was then carried upstairs to the couch, where he spent most of the evening and overnight. Fraternity members did not call for help, but strapped a loaded backpack to him to prevent him from turning over and choking on his vomit, and at other times they attempted to hold him down.
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Grand jury report on Penn State hazing expected: Katherine Scott reports during Action News at 5 a.m. on December 15, 2017.



The cameras captured Piazza stumbling around the first floor during the wee hours of the night, falling several times. By the next morning he had returned to the basement, where fraternity members found him unconscious and carried him upstairs again. They waited 40 minutes to summon help.
Piazza was estimated to have consumed three or four times the legal limit of alcohol for driving.

After a grand jury investigation, the local prosecutor charged members of the fraternity, and added more charges and more defendants after the FBI helped recover footage from the basement that a fraternity member allegedly deleted on purpose. State prosecutors have since taken over the case.

Thomas Kline, the attorney for the family of Tim Piazza, issued a statement on behalf of the family following Wednesday's ruling:

"While disappointed that the refiled involuntary manslaughter charges against the fraternity brother criminal defendants were again not sustained by Magistrate Judge Sinclair, the parents of Tim Piazza are heartened that the important newly filed conspiracy charge has now been added and will move forward to trial along with the charges of reckless endangerment and hazing. These charges carry with them significant penalties, including substantial jail time. Jim and Evelyn Piazza are optimistic that the Pennsylvania Attorney General will obtain a full measure of justice on behalf of their son, and this prosecution will eventually deter this kind of abhorrent conduct."

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Prosecutors refile some charges in Penn State frat death. Jim Gardner reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on October 27, 2017.



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