The preliminary hearing for the suspects involved in the Pennsylvania State University 2017 hazing incident started on Monday morning in Bellafonte. Prosecutors are expected to reveal the final hours of Timothy Piazza’s life before he fell to his death after reported illegal hazing by fraternity members.
NBC reports that on February 9, Piazza, 19, a Beta Theta Pi fraternity pledge, took park in a night of heavy drinking and pledge activities before he fell to his death down a flight of stairs. According to his autopsy, Piazza had four times the legal limit of alcohol in his system. Instead of rendering aid to him, numerous fraternity members allegedly let him lay unconscious for hours before seeking medical help. Some of the members reportedly physically assaulted him in an attempt to get him to wake up.
— Ann-Marie Poli (@annmariepoli) June 12, 2017
Eight of the 18 fraternity members charged in connection with Piazza’s death are facing involuntary manslaughter charges. One of the members, Joseph Sala, is not only facing involuntary manslaughter, but also “aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, hazing, and selling/furnishing liquor to minors.” Sala’s lawyer, Leonard Ambrose, said that his client never touched Piazza that night and that a Penn State employee should be held accountable instead of Sala.
“[The chapter advisor] obviously was involved in having knowledge of the social agenda, what was going on at various times. He was in the house. At no time did he ever say, ‘You can’t do this, this is improper.'”
Other frat members charged in Piazza’s death include Brendan Young, Daniel Casey, Gary DiBileo, Luke Visser, Nick Kubera, Jonah Neuman, and Michael Bonatucci. Along with involuntary manslaughter, they’re facing various other charges, including hazing, tampering with evidence, and more. The additional 10 students are facing lesser charges.
Former BTP brother Lars Kenyon, charged with reckless endangerment in death of Timothy Piazza, enters court for today's preliminary hearing pic.twitter.com/sK0Xs8wNWu
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) June 12, 2017
Piazza’s parents are attending the Monday morning hearing and although a five-member “Greek-Life Response Team” was formed after Piazza’s death, along with several hazing reforms, they feel that it’s not enough.
“This death of this young man, which was something that never should have happened, serves as a wake-up call to American universities,” said the Piazza family lawyer, Tom Kline.
[Feature Photo: AP/Patrick Carns]