Judge denies Penn State fraternity’s motion for removal of surveillance video from FBI

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. — A Beta Theta Pi motion to remove surveillance video and equipment from the hands of the Federal Bureau of Investigation relating to the death of sophomore fraternity pledge Timothy Piazza has been denied by a Court of Common Pleas judge.

The motion was denied by Judge Thomas Kistler on Monday.

For months, the commonwealth and the Penn State Alpha Upsilon chapter have been in a back-and-forth legal battle.

Following the February death of 19-year-old Piazza, officers discovered operating surveillance cameras within the fraternity house. The State College Police Department then sought and received legal consent from members of the fraternity to take video equipment into evidence. Two days later, a search warrant was secured which allowed police to “secure, download, view, copy and keep the footage” obtained from  the night of Piazza’s death, the Centre County Office of District Attorney’s release says.

The chapter then demanded the county court to direct the police department to give up the original video equipment seized through civil petitions. The county court ordered the commonwealth to supply the fraternity with a copy of the video. It was later revealed that the fraternity shared its copy of the video with the attorneys representing the brothers who were criminally charged.

Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller appealed the ruling to the Superior Court to “protect the evidence from being inspected and dissected by experts outside of the law enforcement investigation.” The Superior Court returned the appeal with no ruling.

After the appeal was returned, the county court reinstated terms of order that required the commonwealth to give the recording equipment to forensic experts, the release states.

For a second time, the chapter filed a motion, but this time for police to retrieve the equipment from the FBI which had custody of it in an attempt to “salvage basement video that appeared to have been deleted.”

A hearing was then set in August when the commonwealth called a police lieutenant to testify to the proper procedures that had been followed in the case, including obtaining the fraternity’s consent to take the DVR boxes as well as a search warrant to view the video, the release adds.

The commonwealth filed one more motion to dismiss the fraternity’s latest action which was decided upon Monday.