New video evidence in PSU frat death case
Newly recovered security camera footage from inside a Penn State fraternity house showed a pledge had been given at least 18 drinks in less than 90 minutes, investigators said Monday in announcing dozens of new charges related to the pledge’s death.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller charged 10 new defendants, reinstated charges against two people whose cases had been dropped and added counts against five who had previously been charged for actions surrounding the Feb. 4 death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Tim Piazza. One fraternity member is accused of deleting the video as police were seeking the footage.
Twenty-six people now face charges in the case.
Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, suffered a fractured skull, shattered spleen and other injuries, likely during a series of falls inside the
house. He was estimated to have had a blood-alcohol level several times the legal limit for adult drivers.
The house’s security system captured many of the events the night Piazza was injured, footage that had already been played at a preliminary hearing for those charged previously. But until recently, that did not include the basement, where Piazza was found the next morning.
A court affidavit said one of the brothers, Braxton Becker, purposely deleted the basement footage two days after Piazza died but the FBI was able to recover it.
Becker’s motive, wrote State College Police Detective David Scicchitano, was to conceal the worst of the drinking and hazing.
Detectives also found a text from Becker the day after the party, saying Piazza “was technically hazed into drinking that much.” In another text, Becker used an expletive to say someone had argued against getting the pledges very drunk “but no one listened.”
Becker, 21, of Niskayuna, New York, was charged with evidence tampering, obstruction and hindering a prosecution. His lawyer did not return a message seeking comment.
Parks Miller said in a written statement that the basement video “clearly depicts a continuation of the hazing activity previously captured upstairs,”
including giving pledges beer, wine and vodka.
“In fact, on video, Tim Piazza does not obtain his own alcohol at any point — rather, every drink consumed was provided to him by a fraternity brother,” she said.
Piazza’s father, Jim Piazza, said his family was making plans for the holidays without the son.
Jim Piazza and Evelyn Piazza hold one another as they listen to District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller speak during a new conference regarding new evidence in the investigation into the death of their son, Beta Theta Pi fraternity pledge Tim Piazza,...