The attorney for a college student from Long Island who was arrested in connection with the death of a fraternity member at Pennsylvania State University called the charges “improper,” saying the death was the “exception, not the expectation.”
Daniel Casey, 19, of Ronkonkoma, is one of eight Penn State fraternity brothers charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Timothy Piazza, 19. He is also alleged to have “directed and participated in the clean up of evidence,” according to a police report.
Piazza, a pledge to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, repeatedly fell down a flight of stairs after he and others drank large amounts of vodka, beer and wine, officials said.
Casey and seven other fraternity members face charges that include involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault.
Ten other fraternity members face lesser charges such as hazing and alcohol-related offenses.
“The government assumes that these young men, many of whom were intoxicated themselves, should have been able to differentiate symptoms of extreme intoxication from symptoms of a life threatening head injury,” said his attorney, Steven Trialonas of State College, Pennsylvania. “That is an impossible burden to place on them.”
On Feb. 2, members of Beta Theta Pi were hosting a pledge initiation ceremony, officials said. Piazza, a sophomore engineering student from Lebanon, New Jersey, and 13 others accepted pledge bids.
Piazza was unconscious the next morning when help finally arrived. He died on Feb. 4 from traumatic brain injury, officials said.
“Members of Beta Theta Pi didn’t get help for the victim, 19-year-old Timothy Piazza, causing him to suffer for hours and possibly making his injuries worse,” a prosecutor said Friday in announcing the results of a grand jury investigation.
Penn State permanently banned the fraternity on March 30, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.