New video ev­i­dence in PSU frat death case

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Scol­foro

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.

PHOEBE SHEEHAN — CEN­TRE DAILY TIMES VIA AP

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, Mon­day at the Cen­tre County Court­house An­nex in Belle­fonte, Pa.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.