DA to refile more serious charges in Penn State frat death

DA to refile more serious charges in Penn State frat death

Throughout the preliminary hearing, attorneys for the brothers of Beta Theta Pi often used the same defense tactics, claiming there wasn't enough information about what led to Tim Piazza's death, and asking the judge to consider the difference between voluntary and involuntary behavior - as it connects to drinking.

Members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity still face lesser charges in the death of Timothy Piazza, who died on February 4 after playing a drinking game at the fraternity house near campus in State College, Pennsylvania.

Sinclair threw out the most serious counts against eight of the fraternity members Friday - involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault - and Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller quickly vowed to refile those.

He ordered the now-shuttered Beta Theta Pi fraternity and 12 of its members to stand trial on a range of lesser charges, from reckless endangerment to alcohol violations.

Fourteen fraternity brothers, including Michael Angelo Schiavone, 21, who is from the Yardley area, are now headed to trial in the case.

"What we have is evidence from this record that this tragic death was simply not foreseeable here", said Engle, who represents defendant Gary DiBileo.

Before a preliminary hearing resumed for a seventh day on Thursday, District Judge Allen Sinclair told reporters he expected the arguments to wrap up later in the day, and he could rule on Friday whether charges should be forwarded to county court for trial. She said the Piazzas are "devastated" over the dismissed charges. They said that the fraternity members were unaware of the potentially fatal risks of drinking alcohol and were also unlikely to understand the extent of Piazza's injuries through the night.

"Sometimes judges get it wrong - that's why we have an appeal", she said.

He issued the ruling Friday after a seven-day preliminary hearing.

Defense attorneys said they would challenge any effort to restore the dismissed charges, and will work to whittle down what remains.

After Piazza's death, Beta Theta Pi was permanently banned from the school.

That pressure included running them through a speed-drinking "gantlet" and directing them to collectively drain a large bottle of vodka.

In the early morning hours, Piazza was pictured stumbling from the couch to other areas on the vast house's first floor, including falls into a door and onto a stone floor.

Wednesday's hearing began with the final witness, a live-in adviser at the Beta Theta Pi house who said he did not see the alcohol hazing or other events leading to Piazza's death. He later died at a hospital.

The fraternity's permit from the Interfraternity Council to serve alcohol that night did not absolve them, she said.

The defense pursued the lead that the cause of Piazza's death could not be determined as video footage from the night in question was missing.

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