A former Penn State University fraternity brother entered the first guilty plea in the death of a pledge who was fatally injured after a night of heavy drinking and hazing.
Ryan Burke, 21, pleaded guilty Wednesday to nine charges including four misdemeanor counts of hazing and other misdemeanors.
Twenty-five other defendants face charges in the death of Timothy Piazza who died in February 2017 after drinking three times the legal alcohol limit in the space of 82 minutes.
He fell down the stairs of the fraternity house and died as a result of his injuries.
The case heated up earlier this year when prosecutors recovered deleted security camera footage of the pledges giving Timothy his drinks.
The discovery of the video led to the last five youths being charged.
Ryan Burke is pictured on Wednesday leaving court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, after pleading guilty to nine charges including four counts of misdemeanor hazing
Many initially faced more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter or aggravated assault but a judge dismissed those earlier this year.
Timothy Piazza died in February 2017 at the age of 19
Burke’s guilty plea comes in light of the lenient decision.
On Wednesday, his attorney Philip Masorti said he was aware of the evidence against him and was ‘anxious to make amends’.
There are too few words to describe a loss so great. This young man understands that.
‘This is a tragedy, and he is anxious to make amends.’
Burke handed Piazza a bottle of vodka to drink in footage which was reviewed by police.
He was later filmed falling down the basement stairs.
Timothy spent the night on the fraternity house’s first floor, on a couch, but is also seen on a video stumbling and falling several times.
PENN STATE FRAT BROTHERS CHARGED
Joshua Kurczewski, Ryan Burke, Jonathan Kanzler, Bohan Song and Aiden O’Brien, Joseph Ems, Brian Gelb, Patrick Jackson, Reggie Goeke, Mike Fernandez, Donald Prior and Braxton Becker. Luke Visser, Gary Dibilio, Nick Kubera, Michael Bonatucci and Parker Yochim, Brendan Young, Daniel Casey, John Neuman, Gary DiBileo, Joe Sala, Michael Schiavone, Craig Heimer, Lars Kenyon, Parker Yochim, Ed Gilmartin and Ryan Foster
Footage shows Piazza walking toward the basement stairs the next morning, and then through the basement toward a bar.
He was later seen near the bar, with his head on the floor in between his arms.
About two hours later, he was found unconscious and carried upstairs.
Video shows fraternity members standing around Piazza for more than 40 minutes before anyone calls for an ambulance.
Piazza later died at a hospital from severe head injuries that included a skull fracture and a shattered spleen that caused massive abdominal bleeding.
The hearing will decide if there is enough evidence to send the case to county court for trial.
Burke is one of the most recent youngsters to be charged. His attorney Philip Masorti