Crime

Another preliminary hearing in the Beta Theta Pi case won’t happen this month as planned

A view of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 on Penn State’s campus in State College, PA.
A view of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 on Penn State’s campus in State College, PA. Centre Daily Times, file

The fourth preliminary hearing associated with the death of a Beta Theta Pi fraternity pledge has been continued to Aug. 21.

The preliminary hearing was originally scheduled to begin July 23 after President Judge Pamela Ruest granted a request by the Office of the Attorney General to reinstate charges against eight defendants. She allotted six days for the hearings.

District Judge Carmine Prestia is scheduled to preside over the hearing. He was also scheduled to preside over the most recent preliminary hearing, but was replaced by District Judge Steven Lachman because he was sick with the flu.

Judge Jonathan Grine also continued the pre-trial conferences for 15 former fraternity brothers, originally scheduled for Monday, by one day.

Twenty-five former fraternity members still face charges related to the February 2017 death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza. A 26th defendant, Ryan Burke, pleaded guilty in June and is scheduled to be sentenced July 31.

The case, which has been called a “procedural mess,” has resulted in three preliminary hearings, rulings by two different district judges, the AG’s office accepting the case from District Attorney Bernie Cantorna and a pending bill seeking to change Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law, as reported by the Associated Press.

Former Beta Theta Pi brother Ryan Burke pleaded guilty to charges of hazing in relation to the death of Beta pledge Timothy Piazza in February 2017. Burke's attorney, Philip Masorti, said his client extended his condolences to the Piazza family.

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