Crime

Who deleted video from the frat house after Timothy Piazza’s death? Charges refiled

Former Beta Theta Pi house manager Braxton Becker, right, arrived at the Centre County Courthouse on Aug. 21 for the first day of the fourth preliminary hearing related to Timothy Piazza’s death.
Former Beta Theta Pi house manager Braxton Becker, right, arrived at the Centre County Courthouse on Aug. 21 for the first day of the fourth preliminary hearing related to Timothy Piazza’s death. Centre Daily Times, file

State College police refiled charges against Beta Theta Pi’s former house manager for the third time on Tuesday.

District judges previously dismissed all charges against Braxton Becker, a 22-year-old from Niskayuna, New York, who is accused of intentionally deleting video from the fraternity’s basement.

“The evidence is insufficient to point directly to the defendant as having been the person who initiated any erasure of data. The systems were known to have problems, some cameras were not working and the LAN indication on the log indicates possible remote access to the devices,” District Judge Prestia said in his August ruling.

In response, Michael Carlson — a special agent for the Office of the Attorney General — spoke with Speco Technologies’ Technical Support Manager Yolanda Herrera and Executive Vice President Peter Botelho. The company is the manufacturer of the DVR boxes and surveillance system used in the house.

Herrera told Carlson that anytime the DVR is accessed remotely, an “R” will appear in the system log history next to the date and time. Upon review of the fraternity’s system, however, Herrera said a user accessed a portion of the DVR to “potentially make a change to that setting.”

She also said the user was accessing the DVR locally — not remotely — because the “R” was not present.

As for the “Clear All Data” entry, Herrera said it also indicates a user accessed the DVR locally and manually deleted the data.

“Herrera confirmed that her review of the system log made it clear that the user who performed the manual deletion had to have been physically located at the DVR box itself and could not have been performed from another location,” police said.

Becker is charged with three misdemeanors — tampering with physical evidence, obstructing law enforcement and destroying evidence.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 7.

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