PSU Frat Death Case Back in Court, Members Face New Prosecution

BELLEFONTE, Pa. --  Just attorney's at the court house in Bellefonte on Friday. 11 former Penn State University fraternity brothers charge in the hazing death of pledge Timothy Piazza just over a year ago were excused by the judge.

They didn't have to show up to their latest preliminary hearing.

Piazza's parents already went through days of hearing last year and now they have to do it again.

Friday's hearing is about new charges against the accused that includes conspiracy and alcohol law violations.

Earlier this month the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office refiled involuntary manslaughter charges against 5 of the men.

The former Centre County District Attorney refiled the same charges last year before a new D.A. took office and referred the case to the state attorney general.

It has been a grueling year for the Piazza family. The hazing case that has affected dozens of families does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

New legislation announced today has the potential to change that.

"Universities across the country are struggling with what's become an epidemic and it must stop."

Evelyn and Jim Piazza have been in court to hear nearly every detail about the hazing that led up to their 19-year-old son Timothy Piazza's death.

Now, they are taking action to help prevent it from happening to someone else.

"The laws in most states as they are written including Pennsylvania are not a sufficient deterrent to prevent hazing," said Jim Piazza.

 

According to investigators, their son was heavily intoxicated when he fell several times at the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

Now, the PA Attorney General is heading the case against his frat brothers and lawmakers are starting a fight against hazing.

 

"For me, I probably would've crawled in my bed, put up the covers and stayed there but because of their courage we are here to make sure this happens again," said Senator Jake Corman.

With support from the Piazza family, Senator Jake Corman announced legislation designed to put an end to a growing number of hazing injuries and deaths.

The Senate bill is called the Timothy J. Piazza Antihazing Law."It will make college and greek life safer. It will save lives and prevent serious injuries that we will never know about and that's okay," said Jim Piazza.

Right now, hazing is a summary offense, much like a speeding ticket, but with this proposed law offenders could face prison time, up to seven years behind bars.

The bill could also hold organizations responsible, like fraternities, with fines or even forfeiting property.

"This is a powerful bill. It will make a difference. I just want to make sure everybody knows we need it to be passed we should pass as fast as we can. The sooner we pass it the stronger we have a set of tools to fix this problem," said President Eric Barron, Penn State University.