Former Penn State frat member pleads guilty in hazing case
Ryan Burke, one of the 24 defendants in the hazing death of Timothy Piazza, pleaded guilty Wednesday and will be sentenced next month. (Source: WJAC via CNN)
BELLEFONTE, PA (WJAC/CNN) – One of the 24 fraternity members facing charges in the hazing death of 19-year-old Penn State student Timothy Piazza is taking responsibility.
A judge accepted Ryan Burke's guilty plea Wednesday to hazing and furnishing alcohol to an underage person.
"Mr. Burke decided to step forward his earliest opportunity to acknowledge and accept his responsibility," said Philip Masorti, Burke's attorney. "We didn't ask for a plea agreement; none was offered. We didn't think that was appropriate. We came to court. We acknowledge responsibility, and he is prepared to be sentenced."
In the courtroom, Masorti told Center County Judge Brian Marshall that he and Burke were well aware of the police evidence.
Masorti said they had seen video recovered from inside the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house the night of a February 2017 initiation event, during which police said an alcohol-fueled hazing led to Piazza's death.
Among the four counts of hazing that Burke pleaded guilty to is one directly tied to Piazza – that Burke handed Piazza a bottle of vodka that night.
Burke's guilty plea protects him from facing additional charges in Piazza's death.
He's scheduled to be sentenced on July 31.
Twenty-three other defendants are set to go to trial in the case, starting with a group of 12 defendants to be tried in August.