Judge: 12 Penn State frat brothers go on trial

FILE – In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Penn State's former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Burrowes Road sits empty after being shut down in State College, Pa. A preliminary hearing is set to resume Monday, July 10, for Beta Theta Pi fraternity members who are facing charges in connection with the February death of a pledge after a night of drinking. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times via AP, File)

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) – A judge has ordered 12 members of a Penn State fraternity to stand trial in a pledge’s death but has thrown out the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony counts of aggravated assault.

District Justice Allen Sinclair dismissed charges against four frat brothers.

He issued the ruling Friday after a seven-day preliminary hearing. Two other students previously agreed to have their cases go to trial.

Security camera footage from the since-closed Beta Theta Pi fraternity captured 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey, falling several times in the hours after he and other pledges were run through a drinking gauntlet. Doctors said he had consumed a toxic level of alcohol.

He suffered for hours from severe head and abdominal injuries before his frat brothers called an ambulance the next morning. He died a day later, on Feb. 4, of injuries including a fractured skull and damaged spleen.

Defense lawyers say Piazza’s death was tragic but unforeseeable.


Previous story below:

12:30 a.m.

A judge is set to announce whether he’s keeping alive charges against Penn State fraternity members linked to the death of a pledge whose agonizing night after a fall down stairs was captured by security cameras in February.

District Justice Allen Sinclair says he’ll decide Friday whether prosecutors put on enough evidence to send the charges against the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and 16 former members to county court for trial.

His decision follows a hard-fought, seven-day preliminary hearing on allegations a night of hazing and heavy drinking caused the Feb. 4 death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Some defendants face charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, while others face less serious charges. Two defendants waived the hearing.

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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