Hearing for Penn State frat members to continue in August

BELLEFONTE, Pa. - It was another long day of testimony as day three of the preliminary hearing for 16 Penn State fraternity members came and went.

The next two days of the hearing are expected to be in August.

Addressing the death of pledge Tim Piazza has become a monumental task, with 16 different attorneys representing members of Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

Tensions boiled over Tuesday in court, with the District Attorney calling the lawyer pool "the peanut gallery," and attorneys in turn calling her a liar and demanding sanctions.

That doesn't erase the heart of the case though, and finding out who is responsible for the death of pledge Tim Piazza.

"If we become adversarial personally, then we can't pick up the phone and say hey what can we work out and how to address this," said defense attorney William Brennan.

Each of the lawyers will get a chance to cross-examine the prosecution's witness.

Much of the morning, the judge listened to questioning from fraternity pledge master Dan Casey's attorney. He questioned the State College lead detective at length about a second Piazza fall, how much the 19-year-old drank..and if he was forced to drink. At one point, he brought back the fraternity's security video to show a fellow pledge finished one of Piazza's beers.

However the Centre County DA said the facts are Piazza had a .37 blood alcohol content.

"The can run but they can't hide from the facts of this case. Collectively these men are responsible for the death of Tim Piazza," said Piazza family attorney Tom Kline.

The Hunterdon County, New Jersey native died back in February after an alcohol-fueled pledging hazing ritual inside the frat house.

Piazza sustained injuries after falling down a flight of stairs. No one called 911 until the next morning, 12 hours later. Prosecutors say the frat pack tried to cover it up.

Throughout the hearing texts messages were read, including several from the fraternity president, Brendan Young, which said "make sure pledges clean the basement and get rid of any evidence of alcohol."

Eighteen members are charged, eight with felony aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter. Two of the members waived the preliminary hearing.

Kline said his clients will attend every hearing and are in it for the long haul.

"They are steadfast and resolute and will not sleep until justice is done for their son," he said.

If justice does come, Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller won't be the one prosecuting it. Although she is leading the case in the preliminary hearing, she won't be at a trial. Miller lost in the primary and won't be the day.

"I'm heartbroken I won't be prosecuting the case," she said.

How that will affect a possible trial is up in the air.

"I hope we have someone who is rational," said defense attorney Ambrose Leonard, of Erie, who's representing Joe Sala.

Sala is one of eight facing the more serious charges. Leonard says Miller has overcharged his and the other clients. He says their were more than 50 guys at the party that night, so why wasn't everyone charged?

The hearing is expected to continue in August.

DISCLAIMER FOR COMMENTS: The views expressed by public comments are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the TERMS OF USE  and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Your comments may be used on air. Be polite. Inappropriate posts or posts containing offsite links may be removed by the moderator.

This Week's Circulars

Pennsylvania News

Latest From The Newsroom