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First Defendant Enters Guilty Plea In Penn State Hazing Case

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.

Prosecutors established the case against Burke based on surveillance footage evidence, which showed him giving alcohol to four pledges including Piazza on the night of bid acceptance in February 2017. Piazza was allegedly given 18 drinks in 82 minutes. Piazza then fell down a flight of stairs and suffered fatal injuries.  

Burke’s attorney, Phillip Masorti, said Burke is accepting responsibility and didn’t ask for a plea agreement.  

“We came to court. We acknowledge responsibility, and he’s prepared to be sentenced,” Masorti told reporters as he and Burke left the courthouse.

Tom Kline, the lawyer for the Piazza family, said in a statement the Piazzas “are pleased to see one individual accept responsibility and encourage others to follow in his steps.”

“My office is committed to seeking justice on behalf of Tim Piazza and his family and holding every responsible individual accountable for their actions, consistent with the law and the evidence in this case,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement.

Burke’s sentencing is on July 31st.

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