Judge orders continuation in Penn State frat pledge death preliminary hearing

Help wasn't called until the next morning, and Piazza later died of traumatic brain injuries.

Some defendants face charges of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter.

The students have not yet entered pleas and are set to appear at preliminary hearings Monday.

A judge, lawyers and the fraternity members facing charges surrounding the death of Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza watched hours of video footage in a preliminary hearing Monday.

"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", James Piazza, father of Timothy Piazza, said on Tuesday. People poured liquid on him, slapped him and even threw his shoes on him, Scicchitano told the judge.

Shortly before 4 a.m., after a fraternity member saw him on the floor and put a blanket over him, Piazza was alone in the floor of the fraternity house.

At about 5 a.m., Piazza stood and then fell head first into an iron railing, landing on a stone floor.

Selections from the grainy footage began with 19-year-old Tim Piazza joining other pledges as they went from station to station in a drinking "gauntlet", and Piazza soon appeared to become shaky on his feet. One brother said Piazza's eyes were half open and he felt cold.

The video shows Rizzo take off Piazza's shirt and position him on the couch. The footage shows him repeatedly falling and striking his head. Those eight and another 10 fraternity members were charged with counts including hazing, reckless endangerment, tampering with evidence, and alcohol-related offenses.

Piazza died later at a hospital. The fraternity brothers are accused of waiting almost 12 hours before calling for help.

Magisterial District Judge Allen Sinclair, after nearly 10 hours on Monday, ordered a continuance to be held later this summer to allow defense attorneys a chance to cross-examine State College Police Det.

The proceeding Monday morning at a courthouse near campus will determine if there's enough evidence to send the case to county court for trial.

Piazza family attorney Tom Kline said, "We expect that videotape to be frightful and that it will be the kind of evidence which will make a significant impact".

Piazza's initial fall down 15 stairs was not specifically recorded.

"He looked dead", Scicchitano said describing Piazza's state in the video surveillance. But, prosecutors say, fraternity brothers decided not to call for help.

"He looked dead", Scicchitano said of the second time Piazza was carried up from the basement.

The Piazza family is planning on filing a lawsuit against the fraternity members and the university.

Within 90 minutes of his first drink on the night before he died, Pennsylvania State University fraternity pledge Tim Piazza's blood-alcohol level had soared to near four times the legal driving limit, a police investigator testified Monday.

Five Penn State executives will be taking on problems related to fraternities and sororities. We stand firm on our belief that when students are involved in collaborating with the university in monitoring and accountability, a greater impact is made.

  • Salvatore Jensen