By Julie Grant

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (KDKA) — Eighteen fraternity brothers at Penn State University are facing criminal charges related to the death of one of their pledges.

Timothy Piazza died after a party in February.  Investigators said he was very drunk when he fell multiple times, causing him to injure his head and his abdomen, and later died.  One of the young men being charged in his case is from the Pittsburgh area.

“In honor of our son we are committed to doing everything that we can to ensure that no other parents will have to go through the pain and grief that we are experiencing,” said Timothy Piazza’s father at a press conference held by the Centre County District Attorney to announce the charges against 18 of Piazza’s fraternity brothers.

According to investigators, Piazza went through hazing rituals that included alcohol.  They said Piazza fell in the fraternity house multiple times, hitting his head and bruising his stomach.  Investigators said the morning after the party he was visibly hurt but his brothers didn’t call 911 right away and he later died at a hospital.

“It’s heartbreaking all around. There’s no winners. We don’t win by even charging these young men because the only win is for him to be alive,” said Stacy Parks Miller, Centre County District Attorney.

Eight of the brothers are charged with manslaughter.  Five are charged with recklessly endangering another person.  Five others, including Ryan McCann of Ross Township are charged with tampering with evidence.  Now, the question becomes: whether these accusations can be proven in court?

“It’s obviously a tragic, tragic event for the family of this young man and the young man himself,” said criminal defense attorney Ryan Tutera.

According to Tutera, the public should keep in mind that the young men are presumed innocent and the government still has to prove what it is alleging.

“They would have to show that all eight of them acted in concert with one another and their actions, and the result of their actions, produced the death of Mr. Piazza,” said Tutera.

Tutera also said it’s odd to see so many defendants charged in this kind of a death case.

“It’s a wide net that they case in this situation. It’s very unusual and unorthodox and they’re going to have to prove that each of these individuals is involved in this man’s death,” said Tutera.

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