A slew of new charges were announced Monday — including aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter — against former members of the Penn State fraternity accused of being involved in the hazing death of 19-year-old sophomore Timothy Piazza.
Piazza died in February this year after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at a pledge ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
Prosecutors brought charges against 12 new defendants and additional charges against five previously named defendants in the case after the FBI was able to recover deleted surveillance video from the frat house basement on the night in question. Fraternity brothers had previously told police the video system in the basement was not working during the ceremony.
Center County DA Stacy Parks Miller said the video, which shows frat brothers continuing to urge pledges to drink wine, beer, and vodka, was deleted while police were on the premises looking for evidence about the case. The video shows fraternity members urging Piazza to drink at least 18 drinks in 1 hour and 22 minutes, according to Miller.
“It was manually deleted through certain menus,” said Miller of the video. “We know exactly the time it was deleted and the police were indeed in the house.”
Five of the new defendants are charged with involuntary manslaughter. The other seven are charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor and unlawful acts relative to liquor.
“And with these individuals who are charged with voluntary manslaughter, that should signify to you that they in fact not only served, if they have multiple counts, not only one minor, they in fact served Tim Piazza as he was getting more and more intoxicated in the basement,” said Miller.
The five remaining defendants named today, who are already facing charges in the trial, are now facing additional charges of furnishing alcohol to a minor and unlawful acts relative to liquor.
In September, a judge dismissed some of the most serious charges against 16 fraternity members who were charged in the case.
“We would like to thank the district attorney and the State College police for their continued commitment and effort's in finding justice for our son Tim’s death,” his parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, said Monday. “Over the last several months we listened to defense arguments centered around victim blaming or 'How could the defendants have known they were putting someone seriously at risk since no one died before?' — as if they were entitled to one free death, or the catchall argument of 'We don't know.' They claimed, 'We don't know what else happened other than what was seen in the upstairs video, and we don't know what happened in the basement.' Guess what, guys — now we know.”
“Hazing is illegal and justice needs to be served,” they said. “It's time to man up, fellas, and be held accountable for your actions.”