Closing Arguments Begin in Hearing for PSU Fraternity Members

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BELLEFONTE -- Closing arguments got underway Wednesday in the preliminary hearing of Penn State fraternity members charged in connection with the death of a pledge at a party in the fraternity house.

Defense teams questioned a PSU athletic trainer on his involvement the night of the party.

Tim Bream is the head athletic trainer for Penn State football. He's also the former live-in adviser for Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

There are 16 Penn State fraternity brothers facing charges including involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence for their alleged involvement in the death of a pledge back in February.

This is day six of their preliminary hearing.

Defense attorneys hope Bream's testimony can poke holes in the prosecution's case and reduce some of the more serious charges against their clients

"I think some of the defendants were interested in exploring the questions about whether or not there was some supervision, whether or not there was information about certain practices being approved by the person that is the supervisor in the house," said defense attorney Mike Engel.

Bream was living at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house the night Tim Piazza, 19, drank heavily and fell repeatedly during a pledge acceptance party at the house.

Bream testified that as the adviser to the fraternity, he wasn't the chaperone.

While he was in and out of at the house that night, he said he did not know there was alcohol at the party and never saw Tim Piazza.

"We certainly hope he reviews the cases person by person, not lumping them all together the way the Commonwealth would like them to do," said Engle.

Defense teams also tried to prove Bream advised the frat brothers to cover up evidence after the hazing.

The text messages in question were sent by Ed Gilmartin of Scranton.

According to Bream, the day Piazza was taken to the hospital he spoke with 30 or so of the fraternity brothers, saying only that they should not talk about Piazza on social media out of respect for the Piazza family.

Penn State officials say Bream's role was a personal living arrangement, not a university position.

Closing arguments will continue Thursday in Bellefonte.


  • Lance

    People should be responsible for their own actions. It is a shame that a student died. But he drank willingly. The frat brothers should have gotten help to him but they panicked. So they are guilty of monumental stupidity. Any adult that was supposed to be in charge is also guilty of negligence. The blame is on all sides

    • El Ma

      I don’t believe that the frat members panicked so much as didn’t care. When it was clear that Piazza was unresponsive, they were very clear on their intent to attempt to cover up what had happened.

      All of the parties involved in this are, to some degree, responsible for letting Piazza die. Of course, they didn’t set out to kill him, and he (no doubt) had no intention of ending his life that night. But, alcohol was involved, denial was an absolute, and every attempt to pretend that they didn’t know what had happened was orchestrated.

  • Supporter of America

    Bream wasn’t aware there was alcohol…it’s PSU, of course there was. Any time I partied there, there was always alcohol. He’s either blind with no sense of smell or ignorant? In either case, he’s really not helping the football team. So sad that in today’s “America” it is always someone else’s fault that “little johnny” or “little sara” messed up and made a mistake; unfortunately this one caused someone their life. I’m sure these kids thought they were “the man” while pushing the alcohol down this kids throat, but not man enough to own up to it.

    • El Ma

      The whole concept of this kind of hazing ritual is absurd. This isn’t the first time this has happened, and it won’t be the last. Even IF colleges and universities disallow this kind of hazing, it will still continue – just at someone’s farm or an abandoned warehouse.

      Institutes of higher learning are failing, on every level, and I cannot imagine who is running these places other than a herd of ego-driven, self-important, enabling sociopaths.

  • otter

    The question isn’t whether we broke a few rules or took liberties with our female guests….we did *wink*

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