Beta Theta Pi brothers ‘laughed’ after emotional hearing, says Tim Piazza’s father
‘You would have thought it was a fraternity reunion’
On Monday, a preliminary hearing for the Tim Piazza case was held for 16 of the 18 Beta Theta Pi brothers facing charges for his death. The hearing’s primary goal was to determine whether or not the prosecution had enough evidence to move forward with the case, and after almost 10 hours, the judge ordered a continuance for a later date to make the decision.
At the hearing, the prosecution played a three-hour version of the extensive surveillance footage found the night of Piazza’s death. Piazza’s parents, who had not seen the footage, reportedly walked out of the room, while the fraternity brothers stayed to watch.
The video showed Piazza falling down the stairs and included clips of him writhing in pain after his fall. It also detailed the brothers dumping him on a couch, slapping him and even putting a backpack full of books on him to prevent him from rolling over onto his back. Stacy Parks Miller, the district attorney for the case, said, “They’re treating him like a rag doll.”
During the hearing, College Detective David Scicchitano testified that Piazza “looked like a corpse.”
The atmosphere in the courtroom was emotional and tense. During breaks, however, the brothers were laughing and talking with one another. Tom Kline, a lawyer for the Piazzas, told The New York Times, “You would have thought it was a fraternity reunion.”
There was also a large amount of tension and conflict between the prosecution and defense. NBC reporter Gabe Gutierrez tweeted that he had never seen anything like it.
I have covered many court cases, and I've never seen shouting in a courtroom like this. #PennState
— Gabe Gutierrez (@gabegutierrez) June 12, 2017
Piazza’s father said that he was “highly offended” by the behavior of those involved in the hearing, particularly the defendants and their parents. He said that, after the hearing, “most, but not all, of the fraternity brothers and their families got together, laughed, patted each other on the back and hugged as if this was just another fraternity get-together.”
The courtroom behavior also stunned District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, who said of the fraternity brothers, “I don’t see anyone acting sad.”
The fraternity brothers weren’t the only ones acting in an insensitive manner. At one point, defense attorney Andy Shubin said that it was “cruel and inhumane punishment” to be in court for so long. “Of course, this comes right after all of them watching video for five hours of what real cruel and inhumane punishment was when the fraternity brothers essentially murdered our son,” said Piazza’s father.
His father also said, “We are highly offended by the insensitivity displayed given the severity of the crimes committed and ultimate outcome.”