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Penn State frat pledge's skin had turned gray by morning after fall, prosecutor says

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By Kelly Terez

Google Maps(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — The surveillance cameras at Pennsylvania State University’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity house were so state-of-the-art that they showed pledge Timothy Piazza’s color change by the morning after he fell down the stairs during a pledge ceremony at the house, a prosecutor told ABC News.

Piazza, a 19-year-old sophomore and pledge at Penn State’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity, died on Feb. 4, following the fall on the night of Feb. 2. Fraternity members did not call 911 until the morning of Feb. 3, about 12 hours after Piazza’s fall, according to a report on the grand jury’s investigation.

The Beta Theta Pi house had eight or nine cameras, one for nearly every room in the house, in full color and full broadcast quality, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said, capturing much of what happened to Piazza in the roughly 12 hours after his fall. Parks Miller said Piazza’s skin had turned gray by morning, which was especially noticeable in the final 40 minutes before the 911 call — the time period prosecutors call the “cover-up” — during which the students allegedly wanted to make Piazza appear healthier than he was by trying to dress him in clean clothes.

Piazza’s death “was the direct result of traumatic brain injuries,” according to the forensic pathologist, and 18 Penn State students are facing charges: eight for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; four for reckless endangerment and hazing, among other charges; and six for evidence tampering. The Beta Theta Pi fraternity — which has since been barred from Penn State — is facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and hazing.

Parks Miller told ABC News the 19-year-old’s death was “completely preventable” and caused by recklessness.

“This was bound to happen,” she said, after a toxic amount of alcohol is handed out to pledges semester after semester.

Parks Miller hopes these charges send the message that “if you’re going to engage in risky, reckless behavior and that behavior causes the death of someone, you’re going to be held responsible.”

To the Piazza family, she said, “We will not stop until justice is done for them and for Tim.”

“They took home one son from Penn State and they should have been driving two home.”

Here are some details from what happened the night of Feb. 2 and early morning hours of Feb. 3 at Beta Theta Pi, according to the grand jury report, which cited evidence including surveillance video, testimony and phone records.

Piazza was carried upstairs after the fall, appearing unconscious. During the night Piazza was slapped in the face, slammed onto a couch and hit in the abdomen by fraternity members. After 3 a.m., Piazza tried to stand but he fell, hitting his head on the floor. A fraternity brother attempted to shake him but then left the room. Shortly before 4 a.m., Piazza again tried to stand but fell face down on the floor.

At about 5 a.m., Piazza stood and then fell head first into an iron railing, landing on a stone floor. “He gets up again and attempts to go to the front door, but before he reaches it he falls head first into the door,” the grand jury report says.

In the early morning hours, brothers saw Piazza in distress but didn’t help. At about 10 a.m., fraternity members found the 19-year-old in the basement lying on his back, breathing heavily and with blood on his face. One brother said Piazza’s eyes were half open and he felt cold. Three men carried Piazza’s unconscious body upstairs and placed him back on the couch. Surveillance footage showed brothers shaking him and trying to prop him up. At 10:48 a.m., a fraternity member called 911. Piazza was hospitalized and died the next day.

The grand jury concluded that after Piazza was taken to the hospital there was an active attempt to conceal evidence of the hazing and underage drinking, from deleting messages to admitting to discussing erasing surveillance video.

According to the grand jury report, in a deleted text that was recovered, one man wrote, “If need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind [a bar] the next morning at around 10 a.m., and he was freezing-cold, but we decided to call 911 instantly, because the kid’s health was paramount.”

All defendants charged with involuntary manslaughter were preliminarily arraigned Friday. They entered no pleas, bail was set at $100,000 and they were released on their own recognizance, the district attorney said. They are prohibited from having alcohol and nonprescription drugs, may not leave their home state without express permission from the judge and must surrender their passports, the district attorney said. The remaining defendants were arraigned Friday and Tuesday and did not enter pleas; they were arraigned with the same conditions but with bail set at $50,000, the district attorney’s office said. Additionally, the individuals arraigned Tuesday were ordered to not have contact with any other witnesses or defendants, the district attorney’s office said.

Defense attorney William Brennan, whose client is facing one count of reckless endangerment, told ABC News Tuesday, “I take this as seriously as if it were first-degree felony.”

“The facts of this case are troubling and tragic and we’ll do everything we can to defend this charge,” he said. “I empathize with the family of the deceased, I empathize with the family of those who are charged.”

“My client has — and this is not to be misinterpreted as acceptance of responsibility or admitting culpability — my client has tremendous human compassion and empathy for the family of the deceased, for the deceased himself. This was an unspeakable tragedy,” Brennan said. “Having said that, it is my position that there is no criminality on the part of my client.”

“It’s heartbreaking. If this case doesn’t draw emotion …read more

Source:: National News


Local city, school board elections see upsets

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By By Alesia Woolridge
COLORADO COUNTY –  Even though the voter turnout was low, Columbus Independent School District school board and the City of Eagle Lake’s city council elections saw some incumbents voted out and new of …read more

Source:: Colorado County Citizen


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Drug busts in Weimar result in multiple arrests, seizures

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By By Alesia Woolridge

WEIMAR – Weimar Police Department, with the assistance of Drug Enforcement Administration in Houston, made two arrests in the early hours of Friday morning. …read more

Source:: Colorado County Citizen


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Commissioners protect county funds

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By By Jason B. Hogan

COLORADO COUNTY – Industry State Bank was approved as Colorado County’s new depository at an April 25 commissioners court meeting but Precinct 2 Commissioner Darrell Kubesch still had some lingering c …read more

Source:: Colorado County Citizen


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Truck meets train in Eagle Lake

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According to Eagle Lake Police Chief David Freeman, at approximately 5:35 a.m. Monday morning,  Eagle Lake Police officers were dispatched to McCarty Ave. and Post Office Street regarding a vehicle co …read more

Source:: Colorado County Citizen


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