BELLEFONTE, Pa. - A Centre County judge has dismissed the most serious charges leveled against a Penn State fraternity and its members in the alleged hazing death of a Hunterdon County teenager.
District Judge Allen Sinclair has ordered members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity to stand trial in the pledge's death but has thrown out the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony counts of aggravated assault.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller is disappointed in the result, and says it was unexpected and - in their view - not supported by the evidence. "It failed to take into account accomplice liability and the serious group actions of the men," the news release from the office of the DA states.
The judge issued the ruling Friday after a seven-day preliminary hearing. Two other students previously agreed to have their cases go to trial.
"We are grateful that 13 more defendants, including the fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, were bound over on charges for Timothy Piazza's unnecessary and gruesome death after a long night of hazing and furnishing are headed to trial," said District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller in the news release.
She says this is a long anticipated step forward for the family and the case, and the charges include many counts of recklessly endangering another person, hazing, furnishing alcohol to a minor, tampering with evidence and unlawful acts related to liquor, according to the news release from the office of the DA.
The Commonwealth will be refiling the involuntary manslaughter charges and will review the others for the same consideration. Although they respect the judge, Miller said in the release, they disagree with his decision.
"The path to justice is long and sometimes vexing, but we are unwavering in our commitment to the Piazza's and this case," Miller said in the release.
Allentown, PA 18102
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