AG's Office Drops Some Charges In Penn State Hazing Death Case

Mar 15, 2018

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has dropped all assault charges and some involuntary manslaughter charges in the hazing case in relation to the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo filed a notice in court Thursday, saying the prosecutors will drop all aggravated assault and simple assault charges, but will continue to press involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants.

Out of 26 defendants charged in this case, 11 will go to a preliminary hearing starting on March 22. The hearings are scheduled for six days.

Five defendants, including the former president of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State, still face involuntary manslaughter charges.

The prosecutors withdrew all charges that the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi faced. In the notice, Zarallo wrote the chapter “consists only of alumni," and does not include active members of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office took over the case after Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna recused himself in January, citing conflicts of interest.

In a statement, Shapiro says these charges represent one part of his office’s investigation and the review is still ongoing.

Timothy Piazza was a pledge at Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity when he died last February after a night of hazing and excessive drinking.

Tom Kline, lawyer for the Piazza family, said in a statement that the Piazzas are “most pleased to see the reinstatement now by a second prosecutor of involuntary manslaughter charges” and they remain hopeful.

A judge threw out all the most serious charges last September, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assaults. Then Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller refiled them.