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Involuntary manslaughter charges leveled against three former Beta Theta Pi brothers were dismissed by a district judge Friday, the decision mirroring prior rulings from last August and March tied to Timothy Piazza’s hazing death.

This marks the most recent failed attempt for the state Office of Attorney General — and earlier, former District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller — to achieve what prosecutors say is justice for Piazza, a sophomore pledge who died after a drunken fall down the fraternity house’s basement staircase in February 2017.

A two-day pretrial — the fourth of its kind since the legal proceedings began in May 2017 — rehashed video evidence and recovered group messages this week.

District Judge Carmine Prestia wrote in his ruling there was insufficient evidence for involuntary manslaughter charges to be bound over for court against former fraternity President Brendan Young, pledge master Daniel Casey and member Jonah Neuman.

Evidence tampering charges against former House Manager Braxton Becker were also dismissed Friday. Becker was charged in November for allegedly deleting basement surveillance footage in the aftermath of the gauntlet drinking obstacle course.

“The evidence is insufficient to point directly to the defendant as having been the person who initiated any erasure of data,” Prestia wrote. “The systems were known to have problems...Defendant's presence at the systems is insufficient given that no evidence was observed by the police officer that would indicate the system was deleting files at the time of observation."

The Attorney General’s office used many of the same witnesses and video footage previously presented in the Centre County Courthouse. The only new witness was Linda LaSalle, Penn State's director of Health Promotion and Wellness, who testified about Penn State SAFE — a mandatory alcohol education program for first-year students at Penn State.

“While disappointed in today’s rulings, the parents of Timothy Piazza remain steadfast and resolute in their support of the Pennsylvania Attorney General seeking to achieve a full measure of justice in the tragic death of their son," Tom Kline, the Piazza family attorney, said in a statement.

"The addition of the conspiracy charges is a significant enhancement against many defendants and is indeed a significant advancement towards accountability for those who caused Tim’s death,” Kline added.



Here are the complete results from Prestia’s decision, with a looming 20-day trial slated for February:

President Brendan Young

Bound over: 29 counts of hazing and one count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: One count of involuntary manslaughter and 29 counts of recklessly endangering another person

Administrative Vice President and Pledge Master Daniel Casey

Bound over: 29 counts of hazing and one count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: One count of involuntary manslaughter and 29 counts of recklessly endangering another person

House Manager Braxton Becker

Bound over: None

Dismissed: One count of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, one count of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function, and one count of hindering apprehension or prosecution/destroying evidence

Michael Bonatucci

Bound over: One count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: Nine counts of recklessly endangering another person

Nicholas Kubera

Bound over: One count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: Eight counts of recklessly endangering another person, one count of furnishing alcohol to minors and one count of unlawful acts related to liquor

Jonah Neuman

Bound over: One count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: One count of involuntary manslaughter and 11 counts of recklessly endangering another person

Joshua Kurczewski

Bound over: One count of conspiracy to commit hazing

Dismissed: One count of recklessly endangering another person and seven counts of furnishing alcohol to minors


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Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the number of charges dismissed for one defendant. It now reflects the correct figures. The Daily Collegian apologizes for this error.

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