The first of more than 20 defendants charged in connection with the hazing death of Timothy Piazza will not be spending time in jail.
Ryan Burke, 21, of Scranton, was sentenced to three months house arrest in Lackawanna County, 27 months of probation, 100 hours of community service and fined $1,000, according to the Centre Daily Times.
Burke was the first defendant to plead guilty in the death of 19-year-old Readington resident Piazza at a Penn State fraternity in February 2017.
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In June, Burke pleaded guilty to hazing, four counts of unlawful acts relative to liquor, malt and brewed beverages and licenses, and one count of purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor and malt or brewed beverages.
Burke was originally facing charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangering another person.
Burke was accused of giving Piazza, a Hunterdon Central graduate, a bottle of vodka at the party.
In emotional victim impact statements, parents Jim and Evelyn Piazza asked for stricter laws against hazing.
“Please help make hazing recognized for what it is – abuse, cruelty and torture,” Evelyn Piazza said in her prepared statement.
“He was sentenced to death by those fraternity brothers who mistreated him and now I am sentenced to life without half of my heart, half of my life’s purpose,” she said. “A statement needs to be made. This kind of thing cannot continue.”
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“It’s time for things to change,” Jim Piazza said in his statement. “Parents want their children to be safe when they send them off to college.
He also said that in many states, hazing laws are not “punitive enough.”
The father also questioned Burke’s remorse.
“This was no accident,” Jim Piazza said. “Tim was killed. It was a well-planned, well orchestrated initian ritual with the objective of feeding the pledges excessive and potentially lethal amounts of alcohol in a short period of time.”
“This group of fraternity members were playing Russian roulette with the pledges,” he continued. “Tim just happened to catch the bullet.”
More than 20 other members of the now-closed Beta Theta Pi fraternity face trial in February.
The prosecution was asking the judge to sentence Burke to 90 days in jail.