Frat members seek dismissal in Penn State pledge death case

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) — Lawyers for members of a now-closed Penn State fraternity asked a district judge Wednesday to dismiss some or all of the charges related to a pledge’s death, arguing their clients didn’t act recklessly or maliciously during a night of drinking and hazing.

The sixth day of a preliminary hearing wrapped up with attorneys for 11 of the 17 defendants still waiting to make final arguments before a judge will decide whether to send charges to county court for trial.

Lawyers for the five frat brothers who face the most serious offenses, including involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, attacked the prosecution’s case in hopes District Judge Allen Sinclair will at least pare down the hundreds of charges they collectively face.

The lawyer for Brendan Young, who was chapter president the night in February that 19-year-old Tim Piazza drank a dangerous amount and fell several times, argued Young saw nothing to make him think the pledge was at risk of dying.

“He wasn’t there through the whole night. He did not observe any injuries to Mr. Piazza. He did not observe anything that would lead him to believe that he was at substantial risk,” Young’s lawyer, Frank Fina, told Sinclair.

Fina said Young’s entire exposure to Piazza’s drinking lasted only 12 seconds, and there are unanswered questions about how much Piazza drank and how he obtained it.

“We can’t say at what point his tragic injuries were fatal that night,” Fina argued. “And we can’t identify all of the intervening events and the unknowns that contributed or even caused some of Mr. Piazza’s injuries.”

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said Young was “in charge of the fraternity” and sent text messages afterward indicating he was responsible.

She said the defendants led Piazza to hazing and excessive speed drinking, aiming to see “how drunk they could get him in the shortest period possible.”

That behavior, she argued, meets state standards for criminal liability.

“They knew that…

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