Crime

18 Students Charged In Fraternity Pledge's Death

| by Jonathan Constante

A total of 18 Penn State University students have been charged in the death of a 19-year-old student who died after a fraternity hazing ritual.

The group of men are facing charges ranging from involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault to reckless endangerment and tampering with evidence in the case of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, who died during a Beta Theta Pi fraternity hazing ritual in February, the Daily Mail reported.

Of the 18 men, two were indicted on 200 counts by a grand jury. Those men have been identified as Brendan Young and Daniel Casey. Casey was also charged with underage drinking.

Testimony from Detective David Scicchitano revealed that Craig Heimer purchased $1,179.30 worth of alcohol for the fraternity for the event. The purchases consisted of "numerous cases of Crown Rouse vodka and Natural Light Beer, 15 cases of Four Loko and multiple boxes of wine."

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Police said a major portion of the alcohol purchased was later consumed by the pledges hours before Piazza fell about 15 feet down a stairwell and sustained a fatal injury. The group of men then refused to call 911 for 12 hours.

Kordel Davis, one of the fraternity brothers who was present, appeared on "Good Morning America" and spoke with Robin Roberts about the night of the incident.

"I said he needs to be at the hospital right now. I said we should call 911. Get him in an ambulance and I'm screaming, I'm being very obvious with my thoughts and, you know, it was kind of like, 'Shut up,'" Davis recalled. "I got thrown against the wall. I didn't know what to do after that. I felt kind of useless and I felt like I had no say in the situation after that."

Davis admitted that he had been drinking that night as well. He said he pleaded for his brothers to call 911 again after being slammed against a wall.

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"I was told that I was overreacting, that I was crazy. I said: 'Well, if he fell down the stairs maybe he has a concussion. Maybe worse,'" Davis explained. "They're saying: 'Oh, that's a myth.' So questioning myself, I'm saying do I really know what I'm talking about? Like, what do I actually know? And when everyone is telling me that I'm wrong, it just -- it was just hard to think."

Davis then recalled the moment he saw Piazza unconscious on the couch.

"I'm screaming, I'm saying: 'What's happening? Why is he on the couch?'" Davis said. "People are saying he needs to sleep it off. People are saying it's not that big of a deal. People are saying we've handled this type of situation before, we know how to do this. They're telling me: 'You've never handled this situation before. You're only a newly initiated brother.'"

Davis is not facing any charges and was only in the fraternity for two months at the time of the incident.

David LaBahn, president of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, issued a statement regarding the incident.

“Go back a generation or two, and hazing was accepted conduct, part of the fraternity experience, part of the football experience," LaBahn Told the New York Times. "Now it’s no longer ‘Boys will be boys, and why is the prosecutor getting involved in this?’ I think there is much more acceptance out there that this is unlawful behavior.”

Sources: Daily Mail, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Jon Dawson/Flickr

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