Crime

Beta Theta Pi, members’ case gets postponed

Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest signed an order granting trial postponement in the case of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity Piazza, 19, was pledging in February when he fell and sustained fatal injuries.
Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest signed an order granting trial postponement in the case of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity Piazza, 19, was pledging in February when he fell and sustained fatal injuries. adrey@centredaily.com

The case for the fraternity and its members accused of hazing Timothy Piazza and serving him 18 drinks in under 90 minutes is getting a delay.

Last week, Centre County President Judge Pamela Ruest signed an order granting trial postponement in the case of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi, the fraternity Piazza, 19, was pledging in February when he fell and sustained fatal injuries.

The chapter, which was suspended by Penn State in February and banned in March, faces 50 counts of hazing and 48 counts of furnishing alcohol to minors.

The motion for postponement was filed by Michael Leahey, attorney for the defense.

The reason is the the bill of particulars — a point by point statement of the whats and whys of the various charges — that was requested in October by the fraternity and some of the 14 members then facing charges. Leahey said in his motion that the prosecution has not provided it.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller didn’t oppose the request, indicating that she “disputes (defense) is entitled to bill of particulars.” She also denied such a request after charging the fraternity and its members in May.

Similar motions and orders were filed in the cases of fraternity members like chapter president Brendan Young, whose attorney, former state prosecutor Frank Fina, also filed a motion by letter on Monday asking to limit the DA’s “extrajudicial statements” in the case.

That comes after Parks Miller sent out a press release Friday alerting media to a press conference Monday, at which she unveiled new evidence and new charges. Joseph Ems, who had charges dismissed against him at the preliminary hearing, is once again a defendant, along with 10 other fraternity members.

Fina said it raised “profound questions regarding prejudicial pretrial statements by the prosecution.” He asked for an order from the court to enforce “applicable rules.”

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

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