Prosecutor to shed light on deleted video in Penn State hazing death

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2017 9:18 AM

By David DeKok

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania prosecutor plans on Monday to reveal results from her investigation into who deleted surveillance-camera footage from the night a 19-year-old student died in an alcohol-fueled initiation ritual for a Pennsylvania State University fraternity.

Timothy Piazza died on Feb. 4 after a drinking game at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house in the town of State College as part of a hazing ritual, in which would-be members face degrading challenges. A dozen members of the social club face charges.

Stacy Parks Miller, Centre County's district attorney, has said the footage from the basement, where many of the hazing rituals took place, was deleted after the fraternity learned police were planning to seize the video.

The deleted footage was recovered and shows fraternity members repeatedly giving alcoholic drinks to Piazza and other prospective members, Parks Miller said.

Piazza, a student from Lebanon, New Jersey, died two days after attending the fraternity's party, which featured a drinking game called "The Gauntlet." He seriously injured himself while drunk, including taking two tumbles down stairs.

Pennsylvania bans anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol.

In a pretrial hearing in September, Magisterial District Judge Allen Sinclair threw out the most serious charges of involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault against some fraternity members, citing insufficient evidence.

Parks Miller has since refiled those charges in the county's Court of Common Pleas and is awaiting a decision by another judge.

In the meantime, eight fraternity members face trial for recklessly endangering a life, punishable by up to two years in prison.

Eleven will face trial charged with hazing, which carries up to a year in jail. All of the 12 members charged are also being prosecuted for furnishing alcohol to minors.

(Additional reporting and writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)