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Most serious charges dropped in hazing death of Penn State fraternity pledge

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Posted at 11:59 AM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 11:59:32-04

A judge has ordered 12 members of a Penn State fraternity to stand trial in a pledge's death but has thrown out the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter and felony counts of aggravated assault.

District Justice Allen Sinclair dismissed charges against four frat brothers.

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He issued the ruling Friday after a seven-day preliminary hearing. Two other students previously agreed to have their cases go to trial.

Security camera footage from the since-closed Beta Theta Pi fraternity captured 19-year-old Tim Piazza of Lebanon, New Jersey, falling several times in the hours after he and other pledges were run through a drinking gauntlet.  Doctors said he had consumed a toxic level of alcohol.

He suffered for hours from severe head and abdominal injuries before his frat brothers called an ambulance the next morning. He died a day later, on Feb. 4, of injuries including a fractured skull and damaged spleen.

Defense lawyers say Piazza's death was tragic but unforeseeable.