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March 15, 2018

Assault charges against fraternity brothers dropped in Penn State hazing death

State will still pursue charges of involuntary manslaughter

Courts Penn State
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Penn State's now-closed Beta Theta Pi chapter.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office announced Thursday that state prosecutors are dropping all aggravated assault charges against members of a now-shuttered Penn State fraternity in a student's hazing death.

The office will still pursue involuntary manslaughter charges against five former members of Beta Theta Pi in connection with the February 2017 death of 19-year-old Tim Piazza, but those charges don't carry the long prison sentences that some of the assault charges did, the Associated Press noted.

RELATED: Penn State football trainer resigns following fraternity death case

Piazza, an engineering student from Lebanon, N.J., died after suffering a fractured skull and damaged spleen while falling down a staircase inside the fraternity house. 

Prosecutors have alleged that Piazza, a pledge at the fraternity, had consumed 18 drinks in 82 minutes during a hazing ritual that night. Fraternity brothers at the house failed to get him medical attention for almost 12 hours, prosecutors said.

The Centre County District Attorney's Office passed the case to the state in November.

A judge had thrown out the most serious charges in the case last September, including the aggravated assault charges, but then-county prosecutor Stacy Miller refiled them. 

At the time, eight former members of the fraternity were facing the felony assault and involuntary manslaughter charges.

Eleven former brothers of the fraternity are due in court on March 22 for a six-day preliminary hearing.