Judge throws out some charges against Penn State frat members in hazing death

Credit: Patrick Carns Photography.

A Pennsylvania judge has thrown out involuntary manslaughter charges Wednesday against five members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State in the alleged hazing death of a pledge, according to court documents obtained by CNN.

It’s the second time Judge Allen Sinclair has rejected involuntary manslaughter charges in the case. The charges had been refiled by prosecutors.

Some members of the fraternity still face charges, including conspiracy, hazing and alcohol violations.

Sophomore Timothy Piazza, 19, died February 4, 2017, after drinking large quantities of alcohol during his first night of pledging at Beta Theta Pi fraternity. The frat was supposed to be alcohol-free.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shaprio said the prosecution will continue.

“My office received this case as a referral from the Centre County District Attorney in January 2018,” Shapiro said. “We filed these charges after a comprehensive review of the case. That review is ongoing.

We will move forward with our case and the charges that were held for trial today. I am disappointed by the decision of the Magisterial District Judge, and we are assessing our legal options. My office is committed to seeking justice for Timothy Piazza and his family and holding responsible individuals accountable for their actions, consistent with the law and the evidence in this case.”

Surveillance video showed Piazza was given at least 18 drinks in 82 minutes by members of the fraternity.

His blood alcohol level went “from a zero to as high as a .36,” said the grand jury report, almost five times the legal limit.

Other security camera video played during a preliminary hearing last June detailed his harrowing final hours, showing him falling several times and staggering through the fraternity house before disappearing near basement stairs, where police said he plummeted 15 steps and lost consciousness.

Despite his apparent distress for 12 hours, the grand jury report said, the fraternity brothers did little to help him.

“No one immediately called 911,” it said. “Instead, brothers gather around him, covering Tim with blankets, evaluating his condition, trying to manipulate his body to dress him and searching online for the remedy to head injuries.”