Today was a wild fourth day of preliminary hearings in the case of 18 Penn State fraternity brothers charged in the February hazing death of Tim Piazza. Lawyers for members of Beta Theta Pi are attempting to get the case thrown out before it reaches trial, and a Penn State football staffer’s role in the night’s events was again brought up.
Defense attorneys had previously tied Penn State head football athletic trainer Tim Bream, who is also an assistant athletic director, to Piazza’s death. (Bream, who was the live-in adviser for the now-defunct frat, has not been charged with any crime in the case.) Today, attorneys for one man said Bream approved of the “gauntlet”—an alcohol-chugging obstacle course for pledges—and was supposed to be supervising the party. From The Patriot-News:
Evan Kelly, the attorney for Craig Heimer, said his client expected that Tim Bream would be supervising the pledge night activities.
Kelly said Bream had weekly meetings with the executive board of the Beta Theta Pi chapter, was informed about parties in advance and in a bombshell: Kelly alleged that Bream “personally approved the gauntlet,” which was an alcohol-chugging obstacle course.
Specifically, Kelly asked State College Detective David Scicchitano: “Are you aware that Mr. Bream personally approved the gauntlet?”
Pennsylvania Centre County DA Stacy Parks Miller objected to the relevance of Kelly mentioning Bream in the hearing, and said it was a topic for another day. Prosecutors say Craig Heimer bought the alcohol for the party that led to Piazza’s death; he is charged with recklessly endangering another person, hazing, furnishing alcohol to minors and unlawful acts relative to liquor.
It was a busy day in court. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, Parks Miller shouted at the gallery in the courtroom to “cool it with the reactions.” Parks Miller, an unpopular DA who lost her re-election campaign in the primary earlier this year, at one point turned to frat members and said: “And I’ve had it with you, too.”
Eight frat brothers are charged with manslaughter in Piazza’s death. A judge could decide as early as Friday whether the 16 members of the fraternity will face trial. Two others charged have waived their preliminary hearing.