A judge has thrown out involuntary manslaughter charges and some of the other most serious remaining charges against 11 of the former Penn State fraternity members arrested in connection to the death of Timothy Piazza. Piazza passed away on February 4, 2017, after suffering major internal injuries from a fall during pledge night activities at the Beta Theta Pi house at Penn State.
According to reports, District Judge Allen Sinclair has dismissed the charges of involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering against all 11 defendants who were part of the hearing that began on Friday, March 23. However, all five of the defendants still face multiple charges, including counts of recklessly endangering another person, hazing and furnishing. Five of the 11 members will still go to trial on some of the charges. This is the second time Judge Allen Sinclair has rejected the involuntary manslaughter charges in the case.
Originally, the fraternity members charged were President Brendan Young, Daniel Casey, Jonah Neuman, Nick Kubera Michael Bonatucci, Gary Dibileo, Luke Visser and Joe Sala. Michael Angelo Schiavone, Craig Heimer, Lars Kenyon Parker Jax Yochim, Ed Gilmartin, Ryan McCan, Lucas Rockwell, Braxton Becker, Ryan Foster and Joseph Ems were also charged.
Fraternity president Brendan Young and pledgemaster Daniel Casey each had one count of conspiracy to commit hazing, a newly added charge by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office, held for trial. Gary DiBileo, Luke Visser and Michael Bonatucci also had new charges of furnishing alcohol to minors and related liquor code violations bound over.
For six defendants, all refiled and new charges considered during the hearing were dismissed. Each of the 11 defendants still also face charges that were bound over after the first preliminary hearing, including counts of recklessly endangering another person, hazing and furnishing.
“We will move forward with our case and the charges that were held for trial today,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. “I am disappointed by the decision of the Magisterial District Judge and we are assessing our legal options. My office is committed to seeking justice for Timothy Piazza and his family and holding responsible individuals accountable for their actions, consistent with the law and the evidence in this case.”
Piazza, 19, was a 2015 graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Readington Township. He was a pledge of the fraternity’s Alpha Upsilon Chapter. Piazza was studying engineering while attending the university.
He also played football and track when he was in high school. He was a member of the homecoming court in 2014, and also served as a Red Devil ambassador at Hunterdon Center and on the school’s Teen Prevention Education Program. He did volunteer work to help teach children with special needs how to play sports such as football, basketball, and baseball.
Piazza’s death spurred a cascade of changes in the Penn State greek life community. On March 30, Penn State levied hard sanctions against greek life focused on hazing. These changes altered the rules for how fraternities and sororities can recruit members and host social events with alcohol. Beta Theta Pi was also permanently banned from Penn State.
— The Daily Collegian (@DailyCollegian) May 5, 2017