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Penn State frat brothers cleared of felony charges in horrifying 'Gauntlet' hazing death

Abby Jackson
Brendan Young Jr., walks out for a lunch break during his preliminary hearing on charges related to the hazing death of Timothy Piazza at the Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017.

(President of the Beta Theta Pi chapter at Penn State, Brendan Young Jr. (pictured), is one of the brothers cleared of felony charges.AP Photo/Chris Knight)
A judge has thrown out manslaughter and assault charges against eight Penn State fraternity brothers in the hazing death of 19-year-old sophomore Tim Piazza, Philly.com reported.

Piazza died in February after a hazing ritual called "The Gauntlet," an event at which pledges drank at a series of alcohol stations and consumed four to five drinks in as little two minutes. Fourteen hours after Piazza showed up to the event he was rushed to the hospital. He died the next day.

Piazza's parents, Jim and Evelyn, had spoken out vigorously before the hearing about the manner in which their son died, saying the fraternity brothers had treated their son like "roadkill."

The Piazzas declined to comment on the ruling, but District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said they were "shocked" by the decision, according to Philly.com.

In May, 18 members of Beta Theta Pi, as well as the national fraternity, had charges brought against them in connection with Piazza's death. Eight of the 18, along with the fraternity, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The other charges, totaling nearly 900, included aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, hazing, and providing alcohol to minors.

The judge has allowed the lesser charges to stand, including hazing and providing alcohol to minors.

Piazza's death rocked Penn State's Greek life and magnified the dangers of drinking culture and hazing on campus. Since then, Penn State has issued sweeping changes to its Greek system.

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