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Assault, Manslaughter Charges Dismissed in Beta Theta Pi Case

Assault, Manslaughter Charges Dismissed in Beta Theta Pi Case

Charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and simple assault were dismissed Friday morning for18 fraternity members implicated in the death of Piazza after preliminary hearings that lasted several months.

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.

Eight of the former Beta Theta Pi brothers saw those serious charges dismissed.

The fraternity and 18 of its members were charged after the February 4 death of sophomore engineering student Tim Piazza, whose agonizing night in the fraternity house was caught on security camera, showing him clearly in pain after drinking heavily and suffering a series of falls.

This story is breaking and will be updated with the latest information.

"This wasn't an ordinary drinking party that was a little out of control", Parks Miller said.

Early Thursday, defense attorney Michael Engle argued that "the voluntariness of the drinking" is an important factor when considering the death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey.

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The lawyer for a Penn State fraternity president accused in the death of a pledge after a night of drinking and hazing says his client didn't see anything to make him think the pledge was at risk of dying.

She said the speed-drinking gauntlet that Piazza and other pledges were run through was designed by the group "for maximum devastation".

The dismissal of many charges came after days of preliminary hearings in the case. Two defendants waived the hearing.

Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey, died of multiple injuries suffered while drunkenly falling multiple times, including twice down a flight of stairs, during hazing activities on the night of February 2 at the fraternity house near the Penn State campus in State College.

Security cameras showed Piazza spent an excruciating night in the fraternity after he was injured, most of it on a couch in the first-floor great hall, as members made half-hearted and even counterproductive efforts to help him. It took another 40 minutes for fraternity members to call an ambulance. He was in the Beta Theta Pi house the night in February that Piazza consumed a unsafe amount of alcohol during a hazing ritual and fell repeatedly, suffering fatal injuries. He soon died at a hospital.

"This is no day for celebration for anyone", Kline said.

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". He called the defendants' experience frightful and said they have been demonized.

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