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Judge Dismisses Involuntary Manslaughter Charges Against Penn State Fraternity Members In Hazing Death

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Pennsylvania judge has dismissed involuntary manslaughter and some of the other most serious remaining charges against 11 former Penn State fraternity members arrested in the death of a student from New Jersey.

Authorities said Timothy Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, died while pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity last February.

District Judge Allen Sinclair threw out nearly 300 new or refiled counts Wednesday but allowed some alcohol and hazing-related charges to stand. The felony counts that carried the lengthiest sentences were tossed in a prior hearing.

Timothy Piazza
Timothy Piazza (credit: Evelyn Weinert Piazza)

Authorities said Piazza was given at least 18 drinks inside a 90-minute period, and his blood alcohol was estimated at several times the legal driving limit.

He tumbled down a flight of stairs and fell several other times, hurting his head, authorities said.

Authorities said he was found unconscious in the basement the next day, but it was another 40 minutes before an ambulance was called.

Piazza had a fractured skull, shattered spleen and other injuries. He died on February 4 from traumatic brain injury.

"While disappointed that the refiled involuntary manslaughter charges against the fraternity brother criminal defendants were again not sustained by Magistrate Judge Sinclair, the parents of Tim Piazza are heartened that the important newly filed conspiracy charge has now been added and will move forward to trial along with the charges of reckless endangerment and hazing. These charges carry with them significant penalties, including substantial jail time," the family's lawyer said on their behalf. "Jim and Evelyn Piazza are optimistic that the Pennsylvania Attorney General will obtain a full measure of justice on behalf of their son, and this prosecution will eventually deter this kind of abhorrent conduct."

Prosecutors are reviewing the cases of 15 other Beta Theta Pi members charged in Piazza's death.

"We will move forward with our case and the charges that were held for trial today. I am disappointed by the decision of the Magisterial District Judge and we are assessing our legal options,"  Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a statement. My office is committed to seeking justice for Timothy Piazza and his family and holding responsible individuals accountable for their actions, consistent with the law and the evidence in this case."

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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