DA refiles manslaughter charges against Penn State fraternity members

By Steve Almasy and Sara Ganim, CNN

(CNN) -- A district attorney in Pennsylvania has refiled charges against 11 members of Beta Theta Pi fraternity in connection with the death this year of a Penn State sophomore.

Aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter charges were resubmitted Friday against eight of the men.

"Today we refiled the previously dismissed charges for Tim Piazza's unnecessary death," Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said.

Piazza, 19, died following his first night pledging Beta Theta Pi, a fraternity that was supposed to be alcohol-free as a result of a suspension eight years ago.

The Piazza family said in a statement that the defendants' reckless behavior was the "direct cause" of their son's death. The fraternity brothers worked together to get pledges including Piazza as drunk as possible in a hazing ritual known as "the gauntlet," the family alleged.

"Then when one of them was in dire trouble as a result of their planned event, they abandoned him," the statement said.

The family appreciates the district attorney's continued commitment to seeking justice for Piazza, the statement said.

"Had it not been for the crimes committed that night, Tim would be with us today," the statement said. "This is about bringing justice to a group of individuals who felt they were above the law and entitled to abuse and torture others because it was 'tradition.' This is also about justice for Tim and making a statement that this behavior is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue to harm others."

CNN reached out to several lawyers for the fraternity members. Two attorneys, who each represent one of the men accused of manslaughter, said he had no comment. Two other attorneys didn't immediately return CNN's request for comment.

Surveillance footage played in court shows Piazza falling repeatedly, including down a flight of stairs, following the event that involving heavy drinking.

In September, Magisterial District Judge Allen Sinclair tossed the most serious charges, including the aggravated assault allegations, which are felony charges. Charges stemming from a 2016 rush period and some other less serious charges also were tossed out.

The seven-day preliminary hearing that preceded Sinclair's decision raised questions about oversight at fraternities at Penn State. The university, which claims it was not responsible for enforcing the alcohol prohibition, has permanently banned the fraternity from operating on campus.

Piazza's death led to one of the largest criminal indictments against a fraternity and its members in recent history. More than 1,000 counts were initially levied against 18 Beta Theta Pi members, including the eight who were charged with aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter.

While some charges were dismissed, several fraternity members were bound over at the time for trial on charges including hazing, furnishing alcohol, reckless endangerment, and tampering with evidence.

On Friday, Parks Miller declined to refile all of the counts from the original criminal complaint but said the investigation is ongoing and other charges are possible.


™ & © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Share this article: