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10 more charged in Penn State frat death

10 more charged in Penn State frat death

November 14th, 2017 by Associated Press in National News

FILE – In this May 5, 2017, file photo, Centre County, Pa., District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, left, announces findings an investigation into the death of Penn State University fraternity pledge Tim Piazza, seen in photo at right, as his parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, second and third from left, stand nearby during a news conference in Bellefonte, Pa. Parks Miller announced Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, that more charges have been filed against fraternity brothers after investigators recovered deleted surveillance video footage recorded before the Feb. 4, 2017, death of Piazza, of Lebanon, N.J., after a night of heavy drinking. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times via AP, File)/Centre Daily Times via AP)

Investigators on Monday said they recovered deleted security camera footage taken inside a Penn State fraternity house and had filed dozens of new charges in the death of a pledge who consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol and suffered fatal injuries.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said the new evidence enabled police to determine Beta Theta Pi pledge Tim Piazza had been given at least 18 drinks over less than 90 minutes.

Piazza, a 19-year-old engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, was found to have suffered a fractured skull, shattered spleen and other injuries. His blood-alcohol content was several times the legal limit for adult drivers.

Miller said the new footage was the basis for charges against 10 additional defendants, as well as seven who had been charged previously. One defendant, a fraternity member, is accused of deleting the video as police were seeking the footage in February.

At least two dozen people now face charges in the case.

The house's security system captured many of the events the night Piazza was injured, footage already played at a hearing for those charged previously. But until recently, that did not include the basement, where Piazza was found the next morning.

The lead detective had said the cameras in the basement did not record the night of Feb. 2-3, but the detective pursued the question further and got help from the FBI to restore the missing footage.

Piazza and other pledges convened in the basement, which housed a bar, for about an hour after completing what was called "the gauntlet," a series of stations inside the fraternity house where they were instructed to quickly down beer and wine.

Miller said the basement video "clearly depicts a continuation of the hazing activity previously captured upstairs at the gauntlet," including giving pledges beer, wine and vodka.

"In fact, on video, Tim Piazza does not obtain his own alcohol at any point — rather, every drink consumed was provided to him by a fraternity brother," she said.

As they returned to the first floor, the pledges appeared to show signs of intoxication, and Piazza had to be helped to a couch.

Piazza subsequently stumbled toward the basement steps, then fell down them.

Over the rest of that evening, fraternity members were recorded pouring liquid on him, strapping a loaded backpack to him and taking counterproductive steps to deal with his condition.

The video showed Piazza stumbling around in the dark at several points, then disappearing.

The next morning, fraternity members located Piazza, unconscious, in the basement. They carried him back upstairs, but it was another 40 minutes before an ambulance was summoned.