Pa. AG to appeal dismissal of charges in Penn State hazing death of Timothy Piazza

rrxpsu09-06042017-0001
Tim Piazza died after falling down a flight of stairs during pledge night.

The state Attorney General’s Office filed notice Thursday that it will appeal the dismissal of certain charges in the 2017 fraternity hazing death of Pennsylvania State University student Timothy Piazza.

Last month, Centre County Judge Allen Sinclair, for a second time, threw out involuntary manslaughter charges against five Penn State fraternity brothers accused in Piazza’s death.

The judge also dismissed dozens of other charges against the former members of Beta Theta Pi, drastically scaling back a prosecution he had first sought to limit last year.

“We laid out the required elements of the charges which were dismissed at a preliminary hearing last month,” said Joe Grace, a spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “In the interest of justice for the Piazza family, our office today filed a notice of appeal with respect to charges against eight of the defendants in this case.”

Grace said Shapiro will speak about his office’s comprehensive review of the Piazza case early next week.

Thomas R. Kline, attorney for Piazza’s parents, said in a statement that the family was pleased the attorney general is appealing dismissals and supports the reinstatement of involuntary manslaughter charges.

Sinclair’s decision was seen as a setback to a case that not only has rocked Penn State’s campus but added to the growing national scrutiny of misconduct and alcohol-soaked hazing by fraternities.

The prosecution has argued that fraternity members planned and executed a hazing ritual in February 2017, deliberately got Piazza drunk, and then failed to get him medical care after he was seriously injured. Piazza consumed 18 drinks in 82 minutes, then fell down the stairs at the fraternity house. No one called for help for nearly 12 hours, and Piazza later died of head, spleen, and lung injuries.