One of the fraternity brothers charged in the death of a Penn State pledge pleaded guilty Wednesday to nine charges related to Tim Piazza’s death, making him the first in the case to enter a guilty plea.
Ryan Burke, 21, pleaded guilty to four counts of hazing and five counts relating to unlawful acts involving liquor in the deadly injuries Piazza sustained following a night of heavy drinking and hazing, Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.
Piazza died after he fell down basement stairs on February 4, 2017.
Burke was first charged in November of that year. He was accused of giving the pledge a bottle of vodka at the Beta Theta Pi party.
“Burke admitted his role in the hazing of Tim Piazza, which included being present for and actively encouraging a gauntlet of drinking games and an obstacle course involving Piazza and other pledges,” the press release read.
Shapiro said he was “committed to seeking justice” for Piazza and that he planned to hold “every responsible individual accountable for their actions.”
Twenty-five other defendants still face charges related to Piazza’s death. Some of the most serious charges, including involuntary manslaughter, against five of the defendants have been tossed.
Thomas Klein, an attorney representing the Piazza family, told Fox News in an interview the stoWednesday night that the individuals involved in the case are “facing many years in jail” if convicted.
Klein said on “The Story” that Burke’s charges alone each carry with them the possibility of up to a year in jail.
He added that Piazza's relatives were “hopeful that there will be others that follow suit” and that they were seeking justice not just for the sake of punishment but also to serve as a “deterrence” for other students.
“Mr. Burke has done the right thing here,” Klein told Fox News.
He noted that he was working with the state to pass an anti-hazing bill.
Burke's sentencing is set for July 31.
Fox News’ Tamara Gitt, Martha MacCallum and The Associated Press contributed to this report.