Judge Drops Felony Charges Against Fraternity Brothers in Timothy Piazza Case

The decision, which follows a seven-day preliminary hearing, is a blow to attorneys who argued that the brothers were culpable for the sophomore's death.

timothy piazza

Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house via Google Maps

A judge has dropped involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges against eight members of the fraternity where Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza was drinking the night he fell and sustained injuries that claimed his life in February.

In all, 18 members of the now-shuttered Beta Theta Pi were originally charged in Piazza’s death. On Friday, Centre County District Justice Allen Sinclair dismissed charges against four of the defendants and dropped the most serious charges against eight of the fraternity members. 

Twelve fraternity members will stand trial on various charges of reckless endangerment, furnishing alcohol to minors and hazing.

The decision follows a seven-day preliminary hearing, during which District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller argued that the boys were culpable for Piazza’s death. Parks Miller claimed that hazing rituals played a part in the death and that fraternity members waited too long to call for help after Piazza fell and suffered a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen and fatal head injury. Plus, prosecutors argued, some members tried to cover up what happened by attempting to tamper with and delete evidence.

Attorneys for the defendants claimed that the fraternity brothers were unaware of how serious Piazza’s injuries were at the time.

Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, of Lebanon, N.J., declined to comment as they left the courtroom on Friday, according to Philly.com. The couple has spoken out against hazing at Penn State since their son’s death and pushed for the university to expel the students and fire the teachers whom they say were responsible.

The case has attracted international attention and sparked discussion about Greek Life and drinking on college campuses.

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