Two local men charged in PSU fraternity death

Local News

Two Erie County men are among 18 fraternity brothers from Penn State University being charged in the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza.

Among eight fraternity brothers facing aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter is 19 year old Joseph Michael Sala of Arbuckle Rd Erie.   He’s also charged with simple assault and multiple counts of reckless endangerment, hazing, and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Also charged is 19 year old Parker Jax Yochim of  Colt Station rd., Waterford.  He’s facing multiple charges of reckless endangerment, hazing, and furnishing alcohol to minors.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller announced Friday,  criminal charges as a result of the Centre County Grand Jury’s months-long investigation into the death of Timothy J. Piazza.

Piazza died while pledging the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on February 2, 2017.

Eighteen brothers are now being charged in his death, and 8 are facing manslaughter charges.

The three-month long investigation found that Timothy Piazza attended a bid acceptance party on February 2nd.

Fraternity members had pledges participate in what Parks Miller called a ‘gauntlet.’

A ‘gauntlet’ is where pledges drink enormous amounts of alcohol at stations in the fraternity house.

Piazza reportedly fell down a long flight of stairs several times and suffered life-threatening injuries after drinking what Parks Miller called a fatal amount of alcohol.

She blamed fraternity members for waiting 40 minutes before calling for help. Videotape of what happened inside the frat house and text messages between the frat brothers were used as evidence.

Frat members were accused of trying to cover up what happened.

Present at Friday’s conference were Timothy Piazza’s parents, Jim and Evelyn Piazza, who say no parent should have to go through something like this.

“In honor of our son, we are committed to doing everything that we can to ensure that no other parents will have to go through the pain and grief we are currently experiencing,” Jim Piazza said.

Parks Miller also commented.

“It’s just heartbreaking all around, there are no winners. You don’t win by even charging these young men because the only win is for him to be alive.”

Statement from Penn State Interfraternity Council:

“Our thoughts continue to lie with the Piazza family as the justice process moves forward. Our focus, as students, is leading the change Penn State needs to prevent a senseless tragedy like this from happening in the future.

We are committed to addressing the critical issues in our fraternity community head on. We have formed stakeholder working groups tasked with developing increased community standards and enhancing student safety. The best way to shift culture is for students, alumni and the university to work together.”

8 of the defendants are scheduled were arraigned in court Friday afternoon.

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