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Penn State fraternity members due in court over hazing death

Written by Mark Scolforo/Associated Press | Mar 23, 2018 3:56 AM
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This Oct. 31, 2014, photo provided by Patrick Carns shows Timothy Piazza, center, with his parents Evelyn Piazza, left, and James Piazza, right, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football's "Senior Night." (Patrick Carns via AP)

(State College) -- A preliminary hearing at the courthouse near the Penn State campus will involve 11 of the 26 young men charged in connection with the February 2017 death of Tim Piazza after a night of hazing and drinking.

They are being prosecuted by the state attorney general's office, which took over the case after a newly-elected county district attorney was sworn in earlier this year.

State prosecutors opted to drop all of the aggravated assault charges, which had been the most serious allegations.

Five of the 11 defendants are still charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Other allegations include hazing, reckless endangerment, conspiracy and alcohol violations.

Piazza, 19, a sophomore engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, was at the fraternity house for a pledge bid acceptance ceremony when he apparently fell down a set of basement steps and injured himself.

He had to be carried upstairs and spent much of the night on a couch. He was recorded on the house's elaborate security camera system showing signs of pain and discomfort.

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FILE PHOTO: Brendan Young Jr., walks out for a lunch break during his preliminary hearing on charges related to the hazing death of Timothy Piazza at the Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

Members of the fraternity took half-hearted and even counterproductive steps to address his condition, ultimately leaving him alone in the dimly lit first-floor room.

In the early morning hours, Piazza somehow ended up back in the basement, where fraternity members found him unconscious. They carried him upstairs and then waited 40 minutes to summon help.

Authorities said Piazza consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol and suffered a fractured skull and shattered spleen. He later died at a hospital.

The attorney general's office has said its review of the case is ongoing and has not indicated its plans for other defendants with pending charges.

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