Sixteen Penn State University college students attended the preliminary hearing of the case involving Timothy Piazza on Monday, at the Centre County Court in Bellefonte. Although eight of the 16 defendants are facing serious charges that could land them behind bars if convicted, several students were caught snickering and joking around.
NJ.com reports that while in the courtroom, the defendants watched three-hour footage of Piazza’s final hours during a night of fraternity hazing, which eventually cost him his life when he fell down a flight of stairs in the basement area of the Beta Theta Pi frat house.
The video was so heartbreaking and tragic for Piazza’s parents that they had to leave the courtroom. It apparently didn’t seem to bother a number of the defendants, however, who laughed and joked with each other during court recess.
— Brad McGirr (@BradMcGirr) May 15, 2017
“Following the hearing, most, but not all, of the fraternity brothers and their families got together, laughed, patted each other on the back and hugged as if this was just another fraternity get-together,” Timothy Piazza’s father, James Piazza said.
“We are highly offended by the insensitivity displayed given the severity of the crimes committed and ultimate outcome.”
The video, taken inside the frat house, was shown publicly for the first time during the hearing. It showed the chilling account of how Piazza was treated on the night that he died.
During one incident, frat member Joe Ems is seen throwing a shoe at a comatose Piazza, and in another incident, the victim was body slammed onto a couch in the frat house by another Beta Theta Pi member. Video footage also depicted frat brothers pouring beer on an unconscious Piazza.
Last month, a grand jury determined that the school’s Intra-Fraternity Council, which includes Beta Theta Pi, played a part in Piazza’s death and it “was not simply an unfortunate accident, but was the direct result of encouraged reckless conduct that demonstrated a reckless disregard for human life, or a reckless indifference to the possible consequences of such conduct.”
The hazing incident, which took place on February 2, was supposed to be an alcohol-free event, but apparently, it wasn’t.
Check back with Crime Online as additional details become available.
[Feature Photo: AP/Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times]