A Pennsylvania judge on Friday dismissed the most serious charges against fraternity members in connection with the death of Timothy Piazza during a hazing ritual at Penn State University early last year, according to the Centre County Court administrator.
All charges of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment were dismissed, the administrator said in a press release, which described the rulings resulting from preliminary hearings this week.
Hazing charges were bound over for six men.
This isn’t the first time these charges have been thrown out. Prosecutors had refiled the more severe homicide-related charges after losing in court, hoping for a different outcome from a different judge.
Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore, was pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State when he died in February 2017 as a result of drinking copious amounts of alcohol as part of a hazing ritual. Beta Theta Pi was supposed to be alcohol-free.
As part of the ritual, Piazza consumed 18 drinks in 82 minutes. After he fell down a flight of stairs into the fraternity house’s basement, fraternity members waited more than 12 hours to call 911. Piazza ended up dying from a traumatic brain injury, according to court records and testimony.
Prosecutors in the case have already secured two guilty pleas for hazing and unlawful acts involving alcohol.
In a statement, the Piazza family’s attorney, Tom Kline, said Piazza’s parents were “disappointed” in the rulings, but “remain steadfast and resolute in their support of the Pennsylvania Attorney General seeking to achieve a full measure of justice in the tragic death of their son.”
The Attorney General’s office declined to comment, citing a gag order.