More Penn State fraternity brothers went before a judge Tuesday, charged in the death of Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old pledge.
The remaining eight Beta Theta Pi members rushed in and out of the courthouse Tuesday afternoon. William Brennan represents Joseph Ems, who was charged with recklessly endangering another person.
“It’s unspeakable, so it’s just a very, very sad and tragic case,” Brennan said.
District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller charged a total of 18 Penn State University students with crimes ranging from hazing to aggravated assault.
“This is the saddest thing to say, but the only reason this came to the surface was because Timothy died,” Parks Miller said.
He died from traumatic brain injuries according to a detailed grand jury report, which tells the story of a February pledge night that included heavy drinking and alleges a disregard for Piazza’s life-threatening injuries. He fell down a flight of stairs, the report says, and went in and out of consciousness for more than 12 hours before his fraternity brothers called 911. Surveillance cameras throughout the frat house captured much of what happened that night.
“Without the tools we had this time, would we would have had the whole picture?” Miller said. “Those tools being the video and being the electronic devices.”
Parks Miller said that in many ways that video brings to light a long-standing culture of hazing. According to a 2013 Bloomberg News report, there have been more than 60 deaths in the last eight years involving initiation rituals.
Writer and former fraternity member David Burkman produced the fictional movie called “Haze: A Greek Tragedy,” which examines why people continue to go through pledging processes that are at times dangerous and deadly.
“It’s the terminology, right? It’s about building brotherhood, sisterhood,” Burkman said. “These are going to be families, and if we go through something hard if we are tested, we do bond.”
All the fraternity brothers have posted bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for next week. The district attorney told CBS News there’s a possibility video may be played at the hearing.