Two Students With Philly-Area Ties Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Penn State Fraternity Death - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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Two Students With Philly-Area Ties Face Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Penn State Fraternity Death

Doctors estimate Timothy Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of nearly .40 the night of the pledge ceremony, a dangerously high level. Two men from the Philadelphia region face involuntary manslaughter charges in his death.

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    18 students are facing charges following the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza. Students facing lesser charges in the fraternity house death are set to be arraigned Tuesday.

    (Published Tuesday, May 9, 2017)

    A judge arraigned the former president of a Penn State fraternity on 200 counts after the death of a pledge during an alcohol-fueled party at the now-shuttered frat.

    Involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and simple assault top the charges the 21-year-old Brendan Young of Malvern, Pennsylvania faces. He also faces dozen of reckless endangerment, hazing and giving alcohol to minors charges stemming from earlier fraternity rushes, according to court documents.

    Nicholas Kubera, 19, from Downingtown faced 70 counts including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault and simple assault charges.

    Both Young and Kubera were arraigned Friday.

    The two men with Philadelphia-area connections are among 18 Penn State fraternity brothers charged with crimes that allegedly contributed to the death of a pledge, Timothy Piazza, who authorities say repeatedly fell down a flight of stairs after he was made to run a gauntlet of drinking stations where he guzzled vodka, beer and wine.

    Beta Theta Pi members resisted getting help for Piazza, causing the 19-year-old to suffer for hours and possibly making his injuries worse, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said Friday in announcing the results of a grand jury investigation. Officials say it wasn't until 12 hours later when a frat brother finally called 911. On Monday officials released the transcript of that call.

    "We have a friend who's unconscious," the caller told the operator. "He hasn't moved. He has cold extremities. Probably gonna need an ambulance."

    The caller then told the operator Piazza's age, that he was breathing and that alcohol was involved.

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    Eight of the fraternity brothers and the chapter were charged with involuntary manslaughter. Other charges include aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing. 

    An attorney for the chapter didn't immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Attorneys representing the local students had yet to reply to NBC10's requests for comment.

    The grand jury, aided by security camera footage, said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the Feb. 2 ceremony at which Piazza, a sophomore engineering student from Lebanon, N.J., and 13 others accepted pledge bids. The pledges were pressured to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.

    Piazza tumbled down a flight of stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head, Miller said. The next morning, he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned. He died Feb. 4 as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

    Miller said doctors estimate Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 percent; the legal limit for drivers, for comparison, is 0.08 percent.

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    The investigation found some fraternity members tried to conceal what happened. It found that a text message recovered by police urged pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol and that conversations discussing deleting conversations from a messaging app were discovered.

    Piazza's father, Jim Piazza, blamed a "flagrant disregard" for the law and said the death "didn't have to happen."

    "Sadly," he said, "we're never going to see his smile again except in pictures."

    Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a "persistent pattern" of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.

    University President Eric Barron called the report heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible.

    "It is numbing how an atmosphere that endangers the well-being and safety of another person could occur within an organization that prided itself on commitment to each other and to its community," Barron said.

    Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.
    Photo credit: Google Street View

    Ten of the defendants were arraigned Friday and were released on bail. The remaining defendants — including two other students from the Philadelphia region — will be arraigned Tuesday on lesser charges.