Parks Miller Warns Against Violating Grand Jury Secrecy
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller's office issued a press release Thursday that warned individuals with knowledge of the county grand jury's investigation of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the death of Penn State student Timothy Piazza that "her office will not tolerate the revealing publicly of information that is subject to the secrecy requirements of the Grand Jury Act."
Parks Miller said her office will investigate these potential violations in response to defense attorneys who spoke to The Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week and one of the same attorneys who she says described police evidence in an interview on local television the next day.
“I am disappointed that criminal defense lawyers seek to shape the public dialogue of an investigation to influence prospective jurors in the event arrests are made,” Parks Miller said. “However, there are very specific ethical rules and secrecy statutes which such lawyers must be mindful of. I caution anyone involved in any of our investigations that our office will investigate and prosecute persons who violate grand jury secrecy provisions.”
“Grand Jury matters are secret for a reason,” she continued, “not the least of which is to protect innocent persons from being unfairly tarred and feathered on the court of public opinion, simply because they chose to cooperate in an investigatory matter. In the event that such matters occur in a grand jury proceeding, we will be asking the supervising judge to address them as they arise.”
Student Timothy Piazza passed away February 4 at Hershey Medical Center as a result of traumatic injuries sustained when he fell down the basement steps at Beta Theta Pi fraternity on February 2. Piazza was accepting a membership bid at the fraternity’s bid acceptance ceremonies that night. Members of the fraternity did not contact paramedics until nearly 12 hours after they say Piazza fell while intoxicated.
Results of the investigation are expected to be released soon.