Penn State Frat Members Appear In Court In Pledge’s Death

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – Eight more members of a Penn State University fraternity are free on bail to await trial on charges that stem from the death of a pledge after an alcohol-fueled hazing ritual.

A Pennsylvania judge arraigned the defendants on Tuesday and set bail at $50,000. Ten other defendants were arraigned on Friday.

The members of Beta Theta Pi face a range of charges.

Five of the young men who appeared in court Tuesday are accused of evidence tampering. One faces a charge of reckless endangerment.

The other two are accused of hazing, alcohol law violations and reckless endangerment.

All charges relate to the February death of sophomore Timothy Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey.

Piazza died after falling and hitting his head several times after a pledge acceptance ceremony.

According to investigators, some of Timothy Piazza’s fraternity brothers found him cold to the touch, with his eyes half open and his skin pale, yet they waited to call 911. Investigators are alleging some of Piazza’s fraternity brothers waited 42 minutes to call 911 so they could destroy evidence of underage drinking and hazing.

There is what some refer to as a “Good Samaritan” exception contained in Pennsylvania’s underage drinking law, found at 18 Pa. C.S. § 6308. It provides immunity from prosecution when someone calls to get another person medical help when they believe that other person is in danger of death or serious injury.

The law allows for the underage person, who has consumed alcohol or possessed alcohol, to be immune from criminal prosecution if they: 1) are how law enforcement became aware of the violation, 2) believe they are first to call and report it, 3) give their name to the 9-1-1 operator or officer, and 4) stay with the other person until help arrives.

The next court date will be the preliminary hearing. It is set for May 17.

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(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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