A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday threw out the most serious charges against 11 former Penn State fraternity members in the nation’s most extensive and closely watched hazing case.
Pennsylvania District Judge Allen Sinclair ruled prosecutors do not have enough evidence to pursue involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza. Six of the defendants saw the charges against them dismissed completely, while the other five will go to trial on lesser charges of furnishing alcohol to minors and conspiracy to commit hazing.
This is the second time Sinclair has thrown out charges in the case. After a similar decision in September, prosecutors refiled charges in November and added new offenses to the list. Sinclair will consider those new charges in May.
This month’s hearing featured more details about the incident, provided in part by previously deleted security camera footage. On Friday, a forensic pathologist testified Piazza could have survived if the fraternity members had gotten him help sooner. The security camera footage recovered by the FBI after one of the fraternity members erased it, shows the young men serving pledges drink after drink. Piazza consumed 18 drinks in about 82 minutes. He eventually fell down the basement stairs and spent the night on the fraternity house's first floor. He ended up back in the basement the next morning, with his head on the floor in between his arms.
Members of Beta Theta Pi carried him upstairs about two hours later but waited another 40 minutes to call an ambulance. He later died at a hospital from severe head injuries, including a skull fracture, and a shattered spleen that caused massive abdominal bleeding. —L.J.