Dozens of text messages from Penn State fraternity brothers were read in court on Monday during a preliminary hearing on the hazing death of Tim Piazza, Buzzfeed News reported.
“I think we are f—ed. Like beyond f—ed,” Beta Theta Pi fraternity brother Daniel Casey texted his girlfriend in February, according to Buzzfeed. “I don’t want to go to jail for this.”
Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old Penn State sophomore, died in February after a hazing ritual called “The Gauntlet.”
The hearing will determine if fraternity brothers go to trial.
In May, 18 members of Beta Theta Pi, as well as the fraternity corporation, had charges brought against them in connection with Piazza’s death. Eight of the 18, along with the corporation, were charged with involuntary manslaughter. The other charges, totaling more than 1,000, included aggravated assault, tampering with evidence, hazing, and providing alcohol to minors.
Casey and Brendan Young Jr. — who was president of Beta Theta Pi at the time of Piazza’s death — are among the brothers facing the more serious charges of aggravated assault and involuntary manslaughter.
“At the end of the day, I’m accountable for it all,” Young wrote in a text message after Piazza was taken to the hospital. “I’ll be the one going to court, paying for an attorney, and maybe put in jail.”
Young also told his girlfriend that Piazza “looked f—ing dead,” according to Buzzfeed.
Piazza’s death rocked Penn State’s Greek life and magnified the dangers of drinking culture and hazing on campus. His final hours began at about 9 p.m. on February 2, when he showed up to Beta Theta Pi for a pledge event where pledges drank at a series of alcohol stations and consumed four to five drinks in as little two minutes. He fell multiple times during the course of the night. Fourteen hours later, he was rushed to the hospital. He died the next day.
“The evidence all points to their consciously and knowingly disregarding the fact that another human was in grave danger,” Tom Kline, the Piazza family’s attorney, told Buzzfeed.