8 members of Penn State frat due in court in pledge's death

Cheryl Sanders
May 11, 2017

According to the New York Times, 8 of the 18 students and the fraternity itself were charged with involuntary manslaughter. He died the next day.

Nine brothers face arraignment at 2:00 P.M. Friday at the Centre County Court House.

"It should go without saying that hazing and unsafe drinking are not permitted by the University, and the University takes appropriate action to educate its students about these issues and to hold them accountable whenever it learns of such wrongdoing", Barron said. "We are all heartbroken as we stand here". In an interview with police a fraternity brother said he saw Piazza laying "face-down at the bottom of the steps". Piazza, from Lebanon, New Jersey, died two days later at a hospital 100 miles away.

Surveillance video footage from that night shows Timothy stumbling toward the basement stairs, visibly drunk.

Today, audio of the 911 call placed by a member of Beta Theta Pi after Piazza suffered fatal injuries from a night of drinking has been released.

"All indicators suggested Beta Theta Phi was a model fraternity - the house, privately-owned and situated like all other fraternity houses on private property, was attractive, the subject of a multi-million dollar renovation; both the Beta alumni and the national organization provided strict rules of behavior; and, the brothers had a no alcohol policy which stated that anyone caught drinking would be expelled", Barron said. Included in the purchases were numerous cases of vodka and Natural Light beer, 15 cases of Four Loko malt liquor and multiple boxes of wine. Authorities say Piazza was part of a hazing ritual of extreme drinking, and when he fell and hit his head, no one got him medical help until 12 hours later.

But Tim Piazza had fallen down a flight of stairs on that morning in February and was on a couch in the frat house, unresponsive.

Footage throughout the night shows Piazza rolling around, moving and vomiting. Erickson, Pecci and another brother then carry Piazza upstairs and place him on a couch in the great hall.

As for Davis' part, he entered the room where Piazza was on the couch at 11:14 p.m., almost a half-hour after the fall.

It wasn't until the student called police in 2015, and a private Kappa Delta Rho Facebook page made national news - because it contained pictures of seemingly unconscious naked women - that Penn State investigated and found evidence of hazing, including underage drinking. Davis said other students told him he was overreacting.

His chest was bare, he was breathing heavy and he had blood on his face, according to the presentment. When that brother insisted again that Piazza required help, he was told others were biology and kinesiology majors so his opinion wasn't as valuable as theirs, it said. For example, several brothers discussed deleting or actually deleted GroupMe messages. "I commend the DA office in the pragmatic way that they handled the charging process here because hundreds of people were at the frat house". Others, including McCann, are accused only of a single charge of evidence tampering.

"The governing body failed to tackle the underlying cause of Piazza's death - hazing", the editorial board continued. The loss of a student with an entire life ahead of him should bring concern to the practices within the Greek system.

The details in the grand jury documents are "heart-wrenching and incomprehensible", Penn State President Eric Barron said Friday, saying Piazza had endured "inhumane treatment" at the fraternity's hands.

But while a deeply ingrained fraternity culture - excessive alcohol consumption, hazing activities that encourage severe self-harm - contributed to the events that led to Piazza's death, there may also have been biological realities at play, too.

This Oct. 31, 2014, photo provided by Patrick Carns shows Timothy Piazza, center, with his parents Evelyn Piazza, left, and James Piazza, right, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football's "Senior Night" at the high school's stadium in Flemington, N.J. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania are set to announce, Friday, May 5, 2017, the results of a grand jury investigation into the death of the Penn State student, Timothy Piazza, who fell down steps February 4, during an alcohol-fueled pledge ceremony.

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