Judge Tosses Most-Serious Charges in Penn State Fraternity Death

Judge nearing decision on trial over Penn State frat death
The Latest: Judge to soon rule in Penn State frat death case
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02 September, 2017

Sinclair dismissed the most serious charges of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter against eight of the brothers, while he let stand lesser charges of reckless endangerment, hazing, tampering with evidence, and furnishing alcohol to minors, Philly.com reported. Two defendants waived a preliminary hearing.

They said that their respective clients had minimal interactions with Piazza during the event.

Piazza, a sophomore from Lebanon, New Jersey, suffered severe head and abdominal injuries.

The lawyer for Brendan Young, who was chapter president the night in February when Piazza drank a unsafe amount and fell several times, argued Young saw nothing to make him think the pledge was at risk of dying.

Afterwards, a wasted Piazza was left on a couch twitching and vomiting.

"Yes, there's excessive drinking on college campuses", argued attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Luke Visser.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said numerous defense arguments would be more suitable for a jury to consider, and she disputed a suggestion that the fraternity members would not have known of the danger because no one had died previously during the fraternity chapter's long history. "That does not transform it into criminal behavior".

Leonard Ambrose, lawyer for Joseph Sala, 19, said there was "no basis for most of the charges".

"They feel they can not be held responsible because it is a way of life", she said.

First off, there is significant bad blood between some of the defense attorneys and Parks Miller, a fiery prosecutor who is now facing disciplinary action by the state.

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Defense attorneys shared similar strategies in closing arguments.

"There is a lot that will go into this", Michael Engle, attorney for defendant Gary Dibileo, said Friday of the work that remains.

"You've heard over and over again, all of these individuals are accomplices, but as a matter of law, these individuals can't be accomplices with one another", he told the judge.

"People watching that video could barely continue to watch it, based upon how gruesome it is", Parks Miller said.

Lawyers for five of the eight fraternity brothers who face the most serious offenses attacked the prosecution's case.

He says Young's entire exposure to Piazza's drinking lasted only 12 seconds. They argued the students had little reason to anticipate tragic results from a night that also included an alcohol-fueled social mixer with a sorority group.

"What's that supposed to mean, that they got a permit?"

"We obviously believe in the original charges or we wouldn't have brought them", Miller said.

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel's petition for discipline filed in February said Parks Miller contacted judges about cases without informing defense lawyers.


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