A member of a Penn State fraternity charged in connection to the death of a pledge member at a frat house earlier this year allegedly sent texts about not wanting “to go to jail.”
The texts were sent after Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza, 19, died after he fell down stairs during a night of drinking on Feb. 4, ABC News reported. Fraternity members allegedly referred to the ceremony as an “obstacle course,” and they didn’t call 911 until about 12 hours after Piazza fell.
After Piazza’s death, an ex-frat member sent texts to his girlfriend that included “drink hazing can send me to jail,” and “I don’t want to go to jail for this.”
“I think we are f—–,” he added.
Now, Eighteen Penn State students are facing charges, including involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and hazing, ABC reported. Six are facing evidence tampering charges.
Someone else allegedly texted, “When they see the video footage of the obstacle course we will be done.” And another wrote: “Make sure the pledges clean the basement and get rid of any evidence of alcohol.” Another text added: “Make sure the pledges keep quiet about last night and this situation.”
Prosecutors also wrote one of the men searched on the Internet: “How would 9 drinks in an hour affect a 200 pound guy?”
According to USA Today, Piazza suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries, including a fractured skull. He also suffered a lacerated spleen.
A grand jury report said that he died as the “direct result of the extremely reckless conduct of members of the Beta fraternity.”
Piazza’s parents issued a response. “They treated him like roadkill,” his father told The Associated Press. “This was premeditated. They killed our son,” he added.
An attorney for Joseph Ems Jr., one of the fraternity members charged in the case, said that his client wasn’t aware of the extent of Piazza’s injuries.
“This is not somebody who’s got a gaping head wound that’s gushing blood. This is somebody who’s blood alcohol was three times the legal limit and apparently had some internal injuries,” said William J. Brennan, ABC reported.
“He probably looked like just another frat kid,” Brennan added.
Brennan told reporters, “The tape tells the story and my client’s on the tape for about 14 seconds of a 12-hour tape. And in those 14 seconds, I don’t see anything that’s remotely criminal in this tragic, horrific situation.”