Eighteen Pennsylvania State University students and a former fraternity at the school are facing charges in connection with the death of Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, who died after falling down stairs at the frat house during a pledge ceremony, a prosecutor said this morning, as she released new details in how the deadly night unfolded.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced the results of the grand jury investigation this morning, three months after the Feb. 4 death of Piazza, a 19-year-old Penn State sophomore.
Eighteen Penn State students are facing charges: eight for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; four for reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; and six for evidence tampering. The fraternity itself is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and hazing.
On the morning of Feb. 3, police were called to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house, where Piazza was found unconscious, about 12 hours after he fell down the stairs. Piazza was hospitalized and pronounced dead in the early hours of Feb. 4, according to the Centre County, Pennsylvania, grand jury investigation report released today.
Here is how the night of Feb. 2 and early morning hours of Feb. 3 unfolded at Beta Theta Pi, according to the report, which cited evidence including video from surveillance cameras, testimony and phone records.
On the night of Feb. 2, Piazza engaged in drinking as a part of a pledge ritual and his blood alcohol content reached between .28 and .36.
His fall was not captured on surveillance cameras but someone heard it, and when one man went to the top of the basement stairs, he saw Piazza lying face-down at the bottom of the steps. In a group message to other fraternity brothers at 11:53 p.m. that night, that man wrote, “Tim Piazza might actually be a problem. He fell 15 feet down a flight of stairs, hair-first, going to need help.”