Crime

A ‘procedural mess’ just got messier. Judge recuses himself from Penn State hazing trial

Judge David E. Grine swears in Jonathan Grine as Magisterial District Judge in 2010 at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte.
Judge David E. Grine swears in Jonathan Grine as Magisterial District Judge in 2010 at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte. Centre Daily Times, file

The judge scheduled to preside over the Beta Theta Pi trial recused himself from the case, according to Centre County Court Administration.

Judge Jonathan Grine was assigned to all trial matters by President Judge Pamela Ruest in July, but he recused himself on Thursday. Reasons for the recusal have not been released.

Judge Brian Marshall — who was previously assigned to all non-trial matters in the case — is scheduled to take over for Grine.

The trial for former Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers charged after the investigation into the death of 19-year-old pledge Timothy Piazza is scheduled to begin Feb. 6 and finish by March 6.

Marshall won’t be totally new to the case. He has presided over guilty pleas from Ryan Burke, Joseph Ems Jr. and Bo Han Song.

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Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo previously said the case is a “procedural mess.”

It has produced four preliminary hearings heard by half the county’s district judges, District Attorney Bernie Cantorna referred the case to the AG’s office after replacing former DA Stacy Parks Miller, all but one of the county’s Court of Common Pleas judges have been involved and there is a pending bill seeking to change Pennsylvania’s anti-hazing law — which is named in honor of Piazza.

“To say that this is a tax on our resources is an understatement,” Grine said in July after announcing the trial dates.

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