Lawyers want fraternity death charges dropped

Judge nearing decision on trial over Penn State frat death

A district judge may decide by the weekend whether prosecutors have presented enough evidence to hold a trial for former members of a now-closed Penn State fraternity charged in connection with a pledge's death.

An involuntary manslaughter charge against the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi also was dismissed.

Parks Miller argued that the former fraternity members had been through the hazing themselves and therefore knew of the possible outcome from consuming such large amounts alcohol.

Timothy Piazza died on February 4, after participating in a fraternity hazing tradition two nights prior. Two of the 18 brothers waived the preliminary hearing.

Becker faced tampering with evidence charges.

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

Lawyers for the 16 brothers and the fraternity chapter asked the judge to dismiss all or some of the charges against their clients as they attempted to minimize the brothers' participation in the "gauntlet" - a hazing event in which fraternity pledges were made to consume four to five drinks within a few minutes at a series of drinking stations - and the "social party" that followed.

He says Young's entire exposure to Piazza's drinking lasted only 12 seconds.

Piazza died in February after a night of excessive drinking that a grand jury in Centre County, Pa., had said was "the direct result of encouraged reckless conduct".

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

Throughout this preliminary hearing, video of from inside the Beta Theta Pi house from that night was often played, and Tim Piazza's parents left each time, not wanting to see that video.

The judge issued this decision after a seven day preliminary hearing.

Defense attorneys shared similar strategies in closing arguments.

Parks Miller said a current Federal Bureau of Investigation attempt to recover suspected deleted footage from the Beta Theta Pi security system could produce new evidence, and may warrant additional charges.

He somehow ended up back in the basement the next morning and was again carried back upstairs to a couch.

The prosecution has argued that fraternity members' actions of hazing and supplying alcohol, and the delay in calling for medical help, led to Piazza's death.

"They cried tears, not for the verdict, but for their son", Kline said.

That behavior, she argued, meets state standards for criminal liability.

On Wednesday, Tim Bream, the fraternity's live-in adviser and a Penn State Athletics employee, testified that although he lived in the house, he went to bed before any of the activities leading to Piazza's death occurred and he was more of a "guidance counselor" than an "overlord".

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