Beta Theta Pi

Ryan Burke, one of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza, entered a guilty plea on Wednesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

One of the former fraternity members charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza formally entered a guilty plea on Wednesday. It’s the first guilty plea in the case.

Appearing in the Centre County courthouse for the first time in this case, Ryan Burke pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro had asked that involuntary manslaughter charges be reinstated against fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — A judge has refused to reinstate involuntary manslaughter charges against five former Penn State fraternity members arrested in a pledge's hazing-related death last year.

Prosecutors sought to appeal a magistrate's decision to dismiss the most serious charges in the death of 19-year-old sophomore engineering student Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey. Piazza died of severe head and abdominal injuries after falling several times at the house the night of a bid acceptance ceremony and party.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dismissed the more severe charges against a second group of defendants in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza. With the ruling issued, a set of 25 former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers will head to trial. 

Among this group of 12 defendants, five of the brothers, Joshua Kurczewski, Ryan Burke, Jonathan Kanzler, Bohan Song and Aiden O’Brien, were each charged with reckless endangerment, which is a second degree misdemeanor. 

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

A Pennsylvania judge says there is enough evidence to send hazing and alcohol-related criminal charges to county court for trial against 11 more members of a Penn State fraternity over the death of a pledge last year.

Judge Steven Lachman on Monday also dismissed allegations that a member of Beta Theta Pi had erased basement security video to thwart investigators.

He's dismissing all reckless endangerment counts the defendants had faced and pared down other counts.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

The three-day preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza completed on Friday. District judge Steve Lachman said he will announce on Monday whether the charges will go to trial.

These 12 defendants are the second group of former Beta Theta Pi brothers charged in the criminal investigation into the death of Piazza. 

State College police detective David Scicchitano left the courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday.
Min Xian / WPSU

The preliminary hearing for 12 defendants charged in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza continued in the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte on Thursday. 

Prosecutors continued their effort in building the case against the former fraternity brothers, who face charges ranging from reckless endangerment to hazing and furnishing. The charges were filed based on security footage of the basement of the fraternity house. The FBI recovered it after it was allegedly deleted.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo spoke about the hazing case during a press conference in Harrisburg on Tuesday.
Min Xian / WPSU

Prosecutors from the office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General began on Wednesday to build the case against 12 defendants for charges in relation to the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. A new judge is presiding over the preliminary hearing and will decide whether the defendants will go to trial for charges including reckless endangerment, hazing and furnishing. 

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro had asked that involuntary manslaughter charges be reinstated against fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday about the prosecution of fraternity members in the hazing death of Penn State student Tim Piazza. Shapiro detailed why, after completing an “independent and comprehensive” review, his office is fighting to reinstate involuntary manslaughter charges against five defendants and drop those charges against some others.

The Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.
Min Xian / WPSU

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office is appealing the dismissal of some charges in the case of the hazing death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

The attorney general’s office is fighting to reinstate charges against eight defendants, including involuntary manslaughter charges faced by five former fraternity members.

President of the now-banned Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Brendan Young, and pledge master, Daniel Casey, are among those who had involuntary manslaughter charges cleared, but they both will go to trial on charges of conspiracy to commit hazing.

Jim and Evelyn Piazza left the courthouse with their lawyers on Tuesday, after hearing closing statements for the second preliminary hearing for the hazing case resulting in the death of their son, Tim Piazza.
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Prosecution and defense have made their closing statements for the second preliminary hearing of the Penn State hazing death case. The judge is expected to rule on the charges Wednesday.

After cross-examinations with State College Police Detective David Scicchitano, defense attorneys made their closing statements one by one. The common theme was that the prosecution has no new evidence compared to the first hearing last year.

Defense lawyers argued fraternity members each had minimal responsibility in giving Tim Piazza alcohol and recognizing his fatal injuries.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Updated on March 27, 11:31 a.m.

 

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case continued on Monday with new video evidence. The prosecution presented surveillance footage from the basement of the fraternity house recovered by the FBI.

 

Outside the courthouse, during a break from the proceedings on Friday, state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman released the details of the "Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law," joined by the Piazza family and Penn State president Eric Barron.
Min Xian / WPSU

Updated on March 23, 8:59 p.m.

The preliminary hearing for the Penn State hazing death case resumed on Friday in the Centre County courthouse.

Eleven former Beta Theta Pi members are facing charges in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza in February 2017. Those charges range from involuntary manslaughter to hazing. All 11 defendants waived their right to be in court.

The Beta Theta Pi fraternity house where Penn State student Timothy Piazza was fatally injured in Feb. 2017.
Min Xian / WPSU

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.

A bicyclist rides past Pennsylvania State University's shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity house Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, in State College, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is taking over the prosecution of the Penn State hazing case after new Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna recused himself.

In a statement, spokesperson Joe Grace said, "The Office of Attorney General Shapiro reviewed the basis for the conflict and pursuant to the Commonwealth Attorneys Act has accepted the matter."

Cantorna, then district attorney-elect, announced in November that he would recuse himself from the Penn State hazing death case, citing conflicts of interest.

Centre County district attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced the Grand Jury report on Greek life at Penn State.
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The Centre County Grand Jury released a report Friday on its investigation into Greek culture at Penn State. In a 144-page report, the Grand Jury finds hazing within Penn State’s Greek Community to be “rampant and pervasive.”

Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller said the self-governance by Penn State’s interfraternity council is at fault and the university allows it.

Bernie Cantorna at a campaign event.
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Centre County District Attorney-elect Bernie Cantorna announced Tuesday that he will recuse himself from the Penn State hazing death case and has asked Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro to take over.

In a statement, Cantorna cited conflicts of interest.

“Because I previously served as counsel to some of those involved in these cases, I sought the advice of the State Bar Ethics Committee about how to handle these matters going forward,” Cantorna said of his decision. “I have done that so these cases can move forward in an efficient, timely and above board manner.”

DA at press conference
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New criminal charges have been filed against Penn State fraternity members in relation to the hazing death of pledge Timothy Piazza. The FBI recovered surveillance footage, which Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller said was deleted by a fraternity member. 

The DA’s office said the video was deleted after brothers were made aware that an investigation into Tim Piazza’s death was underway.

Beta Theta Pi fraternity building
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State has announced disciplinary measures for 32 students in relation to the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza.

Nineteen of the students withdrew from the university before the disciplinary process finished, Penn State stated in a press release Tuesday. Their transcripts will be marked with a “conduct withdrawal” notation.

Seven students received disciplinary actions ranging from probation to expulsion.

Six students were not charged with violations.

Prosecutors Refile Some Charges In Penn State Frat Death

Oct 27, 2017
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller at podium next to a photo of Timothy Piazza and with his parents in person
Emily Reddy / WPSU

(Harrisburg) -- Prosecutors are reinstating some of the dismissed charges against members of a now-closed Penn State fraternity for actions related to the death of a pledge after a night of drinking and hazing.

The new charges were filed Friday, nearly two months after a judge threw out aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter counts against eight defendants. Those were the most serious charges brought in the case, and at least some are being refiled.

The next step in the legal process isn't immediately clear.

Beta Theta Pi fraternity building
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Rush. It’s that time of year when students looking to join a fraternity or sorority go through pledging events that are part of Greek life on college campuses.

At Penn State, the administration is tightening the controls on pledging and how it will be monitored, after student Timothy Piazza died in February at Beta Theta Pi’s bid acceptance night. President Eric Barron spoke about those changes and the university’s response to fraternity hazing and drinking earlier this year.

Timothy Piazza's parents as they entered the courthouse this morning in Bellefonte.
Min Xian / WPSU

A judge has dropped all involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges for the 18 Penn State fraternity members charged in the death of pledge Timothy Piazza. Some defendants are going to trial for lesser charges. 

The most serious charges of the case have been dismissed by Judge Allen Sinclair, but 14 defendants are still going to trial for hazing and furnishing. Seven also face reckless endangerment charges. 

Defense attorney Michael Engle says his client, Gary DiBileo, knows there’s no winner in the case.

Bellefonte courthouse
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All closing arguments have been made for the preliminary hearing of Penn State fraternity members charged in the hazing death of Timothy Piazza. Judge Allen Sinclair will announce Friday whether the case will go to trial. 

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said each defendant played a role in causing the death of Timothy Piazza. She said the fraternity and its members orchestrated the hazing and were fully aware of the fatal consequences.

Jim Piazza (front left) and Thomas Kline spoke as they left the courthouse in Bellefonte on August 30, 2017.
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The live-in advisor for Penn State fraternity Beta Theta Pi testified on Wednesday, while the defense continued to question his role in relation to the death of Timothy Piazza. Tim Bream was the last witness before the preliminary hearing moved on to closing arguments.

Bream is a university employee who lives full time in the fraternity house. On the night of bid acceptance, where Piazza suffered multiple injuries that eventually led to his death, Bream was in the house.

He said he knew about the event, but never gave permission for the “gauntlet” or other alcohol use.

Stacy Parks Millers annouced charges
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Beta Theta Pi is asking for the return of surveillance video and equipment belonging to the fraternity and taken by the State College Police Department in February. The security footage has provided crucial evidence in pressing charges against 18 fraternity members in relation to the death of Timothy Piazza.

State College Police Detective Keith Robb testified on Friday. Robb says the fraternity consented to providing the police department with the video equipment because the footage was too huge to download at the house.

Stacy Parks Miller speaking to reporters.
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A surprising new detail was revealed Thursday at the preliminary hearing of Penn State fraternity members charged in the death of Timothy Piazza. 

State College Police Detective David Scicchitano said the investigation suspects the security footage of the basement in Beta Theta Pi’s house was deleted on February 6.

William Brennan being interviewed by reporters
Emily Reddy / WPSU

On what’s scheduled to be the last day of preliminary hearings for 18 Penn State fraternity members charged in relation to the death of pledge Timothy Piazza, by a lunch break only two lawyers had a chance to cross-examine Det. David Scicchitano.

Stephen Trialonas is the defense attorney for Daniel Casey, the pledge master for Beta Theta Pi.

Thomas Kline at podium
Emily Reddy / WPSU

The preliminary hearing continues Tuesday for 18 Penn State fraternity members in the hazing-related death of pledge Timothy Piazza. 

Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller spent the morning on Monday outlining the involvement of each Beta Theta Pi member charged in Piazza’s death. They face charges that include aggravated assault and reckless endangerment.

Penn State Students On The Future Of Greek Life

Jun 20, 2017
Beta Theta Pi fraternity building
Emily Reddy / WPSU

It’s new student orientation time, and incoming freshmen roam the HUB-Robeson student center at Penn State University Park. They’ve been following the Timothy Piazza case, and most of them say it’s made joining a fraternity less appealing.

“I feel like the fraternities here are maybe a little bit too wild,” said incoming Penn State  freshman Dan Zhang. “I may have wanted to join a fraternity, but now, I kind of want to wait a couple years, see how things go.”

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller at podium next to a photo of Timothy Piazza and with his parents in person
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi and 18 members of the fraternity are being charged in the February death of a fellow fraternity member. The Centre County District Attorney announced the charges and held the first of the arraignments Friday after a months-long Grand Jury investigation.

Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller described the night fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza fell down a flight of stairs as a gauntlet of drinking events.

Beta Theta Pi fraternity building
Emily Reddy / WPSU

Penn State has revoked the charter of fraternity Beta Theta Pi effective immediately. The ban will last at least five years and may become permanent based on the results of a criminal investigation into the February 4th death of student Timothy Piazza.

Piazza fell down a flight of stairs at the chapter house, and was not taken to the hospital until 12 hours later. His death is the focus of a criminal investigation by the State College Police Department and an internal investigation by the Office of Student Conduct.