Hazing, booze topics in Penn State frat pledge death hearing

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A judge on Monday heard about worried texts from members of a Penn State fraternity and defense questions about whether a pledge had been drinking voluntarily before he died in February.

The preliminary hearing for the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and 16 of its members, accused in the death of 19-year-old pledge Tim Piazza, continued for a second day and was scheduled to resume Tuesday with the continued cross-examination of the lead detective.

So far, the only witness has been State College Police Detective Dave Scicchitano, who discussed text messages that showed fraternity members voicing concerns about having engaged in hazing the night Piazza suffered severe head and abdominal injuries.

Scicchitano told the judge that fraternity member Gary DiBileo texted another member to say: “It’s not the fact that he drank. He drank because we hazed him too. Main word being hazed.”

A defense attorney pressed Scicchitano about whether Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey, had been drinking voluntarily as he consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol.

Help was not summoned until the next morning, after Piazza had lost consciousness on the couch of the fraternity chapter house in State College. Piazza later died at a hospital.


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