Questions to the voluntary nature of the pledging process and possible other culprits made up a portion of Thursday morning’s cross examination into the death of Timothy Piazza.
Day four of the the preliminary hearing for 16 Beta Theta Pi fraternity members and the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta opened with attorney Theodore Simon, representing Beta Theta member Luke Visser. Simon sought to establish his client’s role in the fraternity, following a similar line of questioning used by previous attorneys to determine what Visser was not a party to on the night of Feb. 2.
State College police Detective David Scicchitano confirmed that Visser was a NIB — “newly initiated brother” — at the time, was not an officer of the fraternity, did not live in the house and was not involved in any committees. Simon would go on to say that house president Brendan Young had the power to stop the event, where Visser would not hold that authority.
He went on to question the voluntary nature of the pledge events, implying that if a pledge had been bothered by the activities, he did not have to return to the fraternity.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller countered this line of questioning, claiming that “consent to hazing is not a defense.”
“We’re not trying to blame Mr. Piazza,” Simon said, adding that the defense was trying to establish a decision-making process that was voluntary from the start.
Simon also questioned the involvement of the Trilogy club — the organization of women, identified as the defunct Tri Delta sorority, invited to the event that evening. Scicchitano testified that he was not aware if any of the Trilogy members brought alcohol.
Simon argued that it was important to determine if any of the members brought any of the alcohol that Piazza consumed, but an objection to the relevance of the case was sustained by presiding District Judge Allen Sinclair.
The hearing broke for a brief recess at about 10:15 a.m.
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