Investigators filed new charges after recovering deleted security camera footage in connection to the alleged hazing death of 19-year-old Penn State student Timothy Piazza last February.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller told reporters on Monday that the video allegedly shows the Beta Theta Pi pledge being given at least 18 drinks in the span of just 82 minutes during a February initiation event, The New York Times reports.
She alleged at the press conference that brothers in the now-defunct chapter of the fraternity gave Piazza the drinks during a beer pong game, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“People have asked us before why someone would delete the video,” Miller said at the news conference, according to The New York Times. “Now we know. It contained criminal conduct.”
According to the findings of a grand jury investigation released earlier this year, the engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, was found to have suffered a fractured skull, shattered spleen and other injuries after falling down the basement’s stairs. One fraternity member allegedly called 911 at 10:48 a.m. the next morning — about 12 hours after the fall.
Braxton Becker, 20, was accused of deleting the video directly in front of a detective who was sent to retrieve it on Feb. 6, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Becker’s attorney, Karen Muir, could not immediately be reached for comment.
“We know exactly what time it was deleted,” Miller said at the press conference. “It was while police were in the house.”
Due to the video’s contents, Miller charged 10 new defendants, reinstated charges against two people whose cases had been dropped and added counts against five who had previously been charged, according to WYNT.
In total, 26 students are accused of crimes that range from providing alcohol to minors to involuntary manslaughter, reports the Inquirer.
Five of the fraternity members face involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges, reports ABC News.
It was not immediately clear if any of the suspects have entered pleas.
Piazza’s Father: ‘They Tried to Cover it Up’
Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn, stood beside Miller as she announced the charges Monday.
“They then left him to die alone, and they tried to cover it up,” Jim said at the press conference. “We are making holiday plans without our son Tim because of your actions.”
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Piazza’s parents and his brother, Mike, shared their grief with Today’s Matt Lauer this past Mother’s Day.
“This wasn’t boys being boys, Matt,” Jim said. “This was men who intended to force feed lethal amounts of alcohol into other young men, and what happened throughout the night was just careless disregard for human life.”
Jim continued, “They basically treated our son as roadkill and a ragdoll.”
According to the grand jury investigation, Piazza allegedly participated in a hazing ritual at Beta Theta Pi called “the gauntlet,” whereby the pledges were made to drink at a fast pace at a series of drinking stations — such as the shotgun and wine station — for the purpose of getting “pledges drunk in a very short amount of time.”
Authorities said the fraternity had purchased $1,179 of alcohol, including cases of vodka, beer, wine and 15 cases of the malt liquor Four Loko for the party Piazza attended.
“Nobody should consume that much alcohol,” Evelyn said. “That’s torture.”