No parent should have to go through this, Jim Piazza says
The results of the investigation in Timothy Piazza’s death were released Friday.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller held a press conference at the courthouse announcing decisions in the investigating grand jury’s look into what happened on the night of Feb. 2 at Beta Theta Pi’s Burrowes Street fraternity house that led to Piazza’s death in Hershey on Feb. 4.
Beta Theta Pi and 18 people face charges in the death of Piazza. The frat and eight of its members face manslaughter charges, and they were arraigned on Friday.
Michael Bonatucci, Gary Dibileo, Luke Visser, Joe Sala, Brendan Young, Daniel Casey, Jonah Neuman and Nick Kubera also face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts relative to liquor.
Young and Casey also face tampering with evidence charges.
Charges have been recommended by the grand jury against Michael Angelo Schiavone, Craig Heimer, Lars Kenyon and Parker Jax Yochim for reckless endangerment, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts. Tampering with evidence charges were recommended against Ed Gilmartin, Ryan McCann, Lucas Rockwell, Braxton Becker and Ryan Foster. Reckless endangerment charges have been recommended against Joseph Ems.
Heimer and Yochim were also arraigned and released on $50,000 bail. Others arraigned on Friday were released on $100,000 bail.
Piazza, 19, was a pledge at Beta Theta Pi. According to police, he fell at a party about 12 hours before a frat member called 911. A Dauphin County coroner ruled his death accidental, but State College police were investigating the situation leading up to his death.
Beta Theta Pi lost its charter at Penn State for five years in February as the university announced initial sanctions. As Penn State continued its own look into the incident, another decision was announced in March with Beta Theta Pi’s permanent ban.
Piazza was warned he would have to drink “a lot” of alcohol on Feb. 2. He fell several times after drinking and was in dire need of help. Some fraternity members observed his injuries, Googled “head injuries” and tried to cover up what happened, according to Parks Miller.
“They had been doing these same pledge rituals for years,” according Parks Miller, who said she did not recall ever charging so many people at one time.
“In August, we dropped off two sons at Penn State for a collegiate experience,” said Jim and Evelyn Piazza in a statement. “Today we are bringing one home due to a senseless tragedy.”
Parks Miller said Piazza had an irreversible brain stem injury and life-threatening spleen injury by the time he was at the hospital. About 80 percent of his blood was in his abdomen. She would not speculate about whether he would have survived with sooner medical attention.
“(Hazing) is a hard crime to prove due to secrecy of brotherhood and frats,” Parks Miller said. “Many won’t admit it happened to them. It’s a crime regardless of consent to go along with it.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Timothy Piazza’s name. The above version reflects the correct information.