Penn State Releases Statement in Response to New Beta Theta Pi Charges

New information in Beta Theta Pi Investigation

The house's security system captured numerous events the night Piazza was injured, footage that had already been played at a preliminary hearing for those charged previously.

Parks Miller announced the refiling of criminal charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony aggravated assault, after District Justice Allen Sinclair threw out the felony charges in September against eight Beta Thea Pi fraternity members, her office said in a press release.

Prosecutors brought charges against 12 new defendants and additional charges against five previously named defendants in the case after the Federal Bureau of Investigation was able to recover deleted surveillance video from the frat house basement on the night in question.

The house's security system captured numerous events the night Piazza was injured, footage that had already been played at a preliminary hearing for those charged previously. Initial surveillance video showed that Piazza, severely intoxicated, had fallen down the stairs of the house a couple of times.

After State College Police further examined one of the DVR surveillance boxes, police say they uncovered evidence that the basement camera footage had been manually deleted as police were ready to seize the recording equipment.

Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, was found to have suffered a fractured skull, shattered spleen and other injuries.

Piazza was at the Penn State University fraternity for a pledge event in February 2016 where he died after several falls down the stairs.

It allegedly showed Piazza being given at least 18 drinks over a period of 1 hour and 22 minutes.


"And Mr. Piazza in the basement video... never once obtained any of those drinks for himself", she told reporters Monday.

Even though fraternity brothers may not have held Piazza down and physically forced the drinks into his mouth, "force" is presumed in a hazing case, Parks Miller said.

Over the rest of that evening, fraternity members were recorded pouring liquid on him, strapping a loaded backpack to him and taking other ineffective or counterproductive steps to deal with his condition. They dumped water on his face and slapped him in an apparent attempt to wake him, to no avail.

Piazza tried for hours to stand on his own, but each time he fell and eventually he went still. It was an annual tradition in the beta Theta Pi house, according to previous testimony. Another 11 frat members are already facing similar charges. The fraternity has since been closed. Six students participated in the process and were not charged with any violations.

Miller had said at the time that she planned to refile charges and denied there was prosecutorial overreach because the more serious charges were dropped.

Five of the new defendants are charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Aiden O'Brien, who also was charged with consumption of alcohol by a minor and hazing, furnishing, unlawful acts.

Five more brothers were charged with felonies Monday, and one of the previously charged men - Braxton Becker - scored new counts for deleting the video, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Michael Bonatucci Furnishing Alcohol to Minors Unlawful Acts Relative to Liquor 5.

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