Penn State fraternity members escape serious charges in pledge death
by Leigh Jones
Posted 9/01/17, 04:22 pm
A Pennsylvania judge ordered 12 members of a Penn State University fraternity to stand trial in the alcohol-related hazing death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza, a pledge who died in February. But the judge threw out the most serious charges pending against the college students: manslaughter and aggravated assault. Defense attorney Michael Engle said “the teeth have really been taken out” of the prosecution’s case, one of the biggest hazing-related cases brought in U.S. history. The most serious charge left pending against the men is reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor with little to no jail time. During the lengthy preliminary hearing, prosecutors showed grand jurors hours of security camera footage documenting Piazza’s harrowing experience. After guzzling vodka and beer at a series of drinking stations, Piazza fell down the fraternity house’s basement stairs. Fraternity members didn’t call an ambulance until the next day. Piazza died 24 hours later of multiple injuries, including a fractured skull and a damaged spleen. In Friday’s decision, the judge threw out charges against four defendants. Two previously waived their right to a preliminary hearing and agreed to stand trial. The judge has not set a date for the trial to begin.
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Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on education for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital.