The video footage that was obtained from inside the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State on the night that Timothy Piazza died was played in court for the first time on Monday.
It was both harrowing and horrifying to see, with the video showing Piazza before and after he suffered what turned out to be a fatal fall following a booze-fueled hazing event.
That fall occurred a little before 11:30pm on February 2, and Piazza immediately looked to be in need of help, but no one called for medical assistance.
He was then seen as he repeatedly collapsed and continued to fall, attempted to crawl, rolled around the floor, vomited in his sleep and went in-and-out of consciousness over the course of the next eight hours.
At the same time he was body slammed into a couch by one frat member, had a beer or multiple beers dumped on him by another and later lay comatose while one young man threw his shoes at the visibly inebriated college student.
The hearing was adjourned a little after 7pm on Monday with no decision from Judge Thomas King Kistler on any of the matters before the court, and proceedings to continue at a later date.
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Brave face: Evelyn and James Piazza (above with their lawyer were in the front row at Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania on Monday for a hearing in their son’s case (Jim and Evelyn above with their lawyer )
One-woman army: District Attorney Stacey Parks Miller arrives in court foir the perliminary haring on Monday
Off to court: The hearing will determine if the 18 members of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity who are facing charges in connection to Timothy Piazza’s death will go to trial (Luke Visser above)
Terrible end: Evelyn and James struggled as State College Police Detective David Scicchitano said their son ‘looked dead, he looked like a corpse’ when he arrived on scene (Jonah Neuman above)
The video, which was objected too by multiple lawyers inside the courtroom, showed how Piazza went from arriving in a nice look for his pledge event before getting drunk and then falling.
Gone too soon: Timothy Piazza was just 19 at the time of his death
After the fall he could barely walk and then he could barely crawl and eventually he could only roll on the floor.
It was not until midway through the next morning that concerns started to grow, at which time it almost seemed as if rigor mortis was setting in for Piazza.
He was seen at 7:18am walking towards the basement stairs and then not seen again for over two hours, with the motion-sensor camera in the basement somehow not working properly on the day of the incident.
Video shows the men finally carrying a completely stiff Piazza to a couch a little after 10am, which was 11 hours after he first fell 15-feet down a flight of stairs and hit his head.
Then, despite the condition of Piazza’s body and the fact that his eyes had almost completely closed, the fraternity brothers waited another 45 minutes to call for assistance.
He was rushed to the hospital from the fraternity on February 3 in the early afternoon, and died the next day.
Detective David Scicchitano of the State College Police Department, who provided almost all of the witness testimony and expert opinion on Monday, recalled what it was like when he first saw Piazza 12 hours after the fall, and one day before his death.
‘He looked dead, he looked like a corpse,’ said Detective Scicchitano.
The videos from inside the fraternity house were willingly handed over by members to officials almost immediately after the incident, and the deceased teenager’s parents Evelyn and James had been told they are welcome to see or examine them whenever they wish.
PENN STATE FRAT BROTHER CHARGES
Craig Heimer(21): Fifty-two counts including reckless endangerment
Joe Ems(20): One count of reckless endangerment
Lucas Rockwell (21): One count of tampering with evidence
Michael Bonatucci(19): Fifty-six counts including involuntary manslaughter
Braxton Becker(20): One count of tampering with evidence
Ryan Foster(21): One count of tampering with evidence
Daniel Casey(19): Two-hundred-and-one counts including involuntary manslaughter
Parker Yochim(19): Fifty-two counts including reckless endangerment
Nick Kubera (19): Over 50 counts including involuntary manslaughter
Brendan Young (21): Two hundred counts, including involuntary manslaughter
Gary Dibileo (21): Over 50 counts including involuntary manslaughter
Luke Visser(19): Over 50 counts including involuntary manslaughter
Michael Schiavone (21): Fifty-two counts including reckless endangerment
Lars Kenyon(19): Fifty-two counts including reckless endangerment
Ryan McCann(22): One count of tampering with evidence
Jonah Neuman(19): Seventy-nine counts including involuntary manslaughter
Joe Sala(19): Fifty-seven counts including involuntary manslaughter
Edward Gilmartin(20): One count of tampering with evidence
That is an offer the two have no interest in taking authorities up on however, and on Monday the pair dashed out the door of the courtroom just before the prosecutor cued up the three hours of footage that had been spliced together from that night.
They were the first to arrive on Monday and sat right up front in the first row of the courtroom, where they were able to see the young men as they entered court for the preliminary hearing.
They later returned at around 5pm when the footage was done being shown to the court.
The proceedings on Monday were to determine if there was enough evidence to bring the cases to trial.
Piazza was just 19 when he took the fatal fall which led to his death back in February, plummeting down a fight of stairs after a booze-fueled hazing event.
Once their investigation was complete and recommendations had been submitted, Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller charged 18 members of the fraternity with offenses related to the teenager’s death.
Sixteen of those men were in attendance on Monday, with the court waiving the appearances of Ryan Foster and Edward Gilmartin.
Those two are each facing just one charge of tampering with evidence.
The charges ranged from tampering with evidence and reckless endangerment to involuntary manslaughter.
Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 per cent, five times the legal limit for drivers, at that time according to Scicchitano.
That bit of information was shared before the footage aired later in the day, which showed at least one fraternity member pouring beer over Piazza’s head in what was said to be an attempt to wake up the sophomore.
A majority of the video presented to the court showed Piazza rolling around and stumbling for eight hours after his first fall at 11:30pm, with cuts and bruises eventually beginning to show on his body over time.
He fell several more times over the course of the night after his first tumble down the stairs, and then fell down some stairs once more the following morning.
At one point a pledge is seen sitting on a couch just watching Piazza roll around, as sunlight pours in the windows.
Another taped him in his incapacitated state and posted it to Snapchat, though he said that he later deleted the video.
Rough shape: Timothy had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 per cent, five times the legal limit for drivers, at the time of his first fall (Ryan McCann above on Monday)
Level one: Eight of the 18 charged students are facing charges ranging from reckless endangerment to tampering with evidence (Craig Heimer above)
Cause of death: He also read from the autopsy report as he stated that ‘multiple traumatic injuries’ caused by a ‘fall’ resulted in Timothy’s death (Lars Kenyon above)
At the time: University President Eric Barron called the March report that lead to the banning of the fraternity heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible (Nick Kubera above)
Hold him down: The defendants also used their bodies to physically restrain the young man and try to keep him from falling off a couch in the basement (Daniel Casey above)
The defendants also used their bodies to physically restrain the young man and try to keep him from falling off a couch in the basement of the fraternity house.
And when they grew tired of that they strapped weighted backpacks on Piazza to make sure he would not fall asleep on his back and choke on his own vomit.
The prosecution revealed that just before the drinking got underway that night, Piazza received a text from one of his fraternity brothers that said: ‘Get ready to get f***ed up and get ready for a long semester.’
Twenty-four hours later he was in a hospital bed, with a photo that was shown in court on Monday revealing that Piazza was on a breathing tube and in a neck brace with a large red mark over his eye.
A fraternity brother who was present following that first fall revealed in an interview last month that he was thrown against a wall when he tried to help Piazza, a claim that is supported by the footage shown on Monday.
Kordel Davis could be seen making animated gestures after seeing Timothy lying on the couch, at which point he is slammed into a wall by another member of the fraternity.
Piazza was unconscious when help was finally summoned over 12 hours after his first fall and he died the next day as a result of a traumatic brain injury.
The tape will make it difficult to understand why the fraternity members waited to call for help should the cases go to trial, as footage of Piazza shows his condition growing noticeably worse and increasingly concerning over time.
What’s more, the surveillance footage from inside the fraternity house that was seen in court on Monday reveals some of the brothers went to class the following morning while Timothy was still passed out on a couch.
Another fraternity member watched him vomit on a couch in his sleep and texted a few friends about the incident, but did not call for medical assistance or alert authorities.
And a number of members tried to conceal what happened that night, with one text message recovered by police urging pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol.
There were also conversations discussing the need to delete conversations from a messaging app that were discovered by investigators.
Detective Scicchitano took the stand early in the day to detail the events that took place at the fraternity house leading up to Timothy’s fatal fall as well as what the official cause of death was in the end.
The law enforcement official had trouble controlling his emotions at one point while recalling the moment that Timothy’s brother Michael said goodbye to the high school football star in the hospital.
He later read from the autopsy report as he stated that ‘multiple traumatic injuries’ caused by a ‘fall’ resulted in Timothy’s death.
Footage from the fraternity house also showed Timothy crawling and stumbling around on the night in question, while also falling off a coach in the fraternity’s basement.
His brothers had hoped to keep him secure by placing a backpack on him, which also did not allow him to fall asleep on his back and possibly choke on his own vomit.
The footage also showed Piazza arriving and undergoing the drinking gauntlet with his other brothers on the night of the incident.
Detective Scicchitano made a point of pointing out the other underage drinkers who appear on the video at the hearing on Monday.
Evelyn and James Piazza plan to file a lawsuit against both the college and the fraternity in the near future.
Concerning: A majority of the video presented to the court showed Piazza rolling around and stumbling for eight hours (Braxton Becker above)
Out of sorts: Footage from the fraternity house also showed Timothy crawling and stumbling around on the night in question (Joseph Ems above)
Anger: Piazza’s father Jim blamed a ‘flagrant disregard’ for the law and said the death ‘didn’t have to happen’ at a press conference last month (Parker Jax Yochim above)
Terrible: One fraternity member texted that he had watched Timothy vomit on a couch and did not call for medical assistance (Michael Schiavone above)
In the 911 call that was eventually placed, Ryan McCann informs the operator that Timothy Piazza has been unconscious in a eerily calm manner, despite the fact that the 19-year-old had been in a near-vegetative state for 12 hours.
Eight of the 18 charged students are facing charges ranging from reckless endangerment to tampering with evidence.
McCann told a Centre County dispatcher : ‘He’s … hasn’t moved,’ and that they were ‘probably going to need an ambulance.’
At one point McCann had to ask someone in the room how old the pledge was because he was unsure and he confirmed that Piazza had been drinking alcohol.
He did not mention Piazza’s name, but told the dispatcher that the victim was breathing and 19 years old.
McCann is now one of the brothers facing charges in the case.
Two of the men, Brendan Young and Daniel Casey, were indicted on 200 counts by a grand jury, with Casey also racking up one additional charge for underage drinking on the night in question.
Meanwhile, grand jury testimony from Detective Scicchitano which was previously released in the case revealed that in the eight days before Piazza’s death, Craig Heimer purchased $1,179.30 worth of alcohol for the fraternity.
Those purchases consisted of ‘numerous cases of Crown Rouse vodka and Natural Light Beer, 15 cases of Four Loko and multiple boxes of wine’ according receipts inspected by Detective Scicchitano.
Authorities claim that part of that massive liquor haul was later consumed by pledges in the hours before Piazza fell approximately 15 feet down a stairwell and sustained an injury that led to his death after the young men present refused to call 911 for 12 hours.
Farewell frat: Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a ‘persistent pattern’ of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing (Gary Dibileo above)
Sleep it off: Surveillance footage from inside the fraternity house that was seen in court on Monday reveals some of the brothers went to class the following morning while Timothy was still passed out on a couch (Joe Sala above )
Charged up: Two of the men, Brendan Young (above) and Daniel Casey, were indicted on 200 counts by a grand jury, with Casey also racking up one additional charge for underage drinking on the night in question
Handling the truth: The video footage shown on Monday supported the version of events shared by some members of the fraternity (Michael Bonatucci above on left)
In text messages obtained by authorities which were sent in the days prior to the pledge event, one of the brother’s can be seen asking Heimer to make large alcohol runs.
Heimer was one of the few members of the fraternity who was old enough to legally purchase liquor.
In one text exchange, Michael Schiavone, who was also 21, asks Heimer if he could purchase ‘175 [Four] Lokos, seven cases of Natty [Natural Light], on crate of [Crown] Rouse.’
Heimer then asked how much money he should get, how many bottles were in a crate of the vodka and where he could get that many Lokos.
Schiavone responded by texting that it would be $800 case, the crate contained ‘six handles’ and gave him the name of a local store that had close to 200 cans of Four Loko in stock.
A week later Schiavone again texted asking Heimer to purchase ‘six Rouse.’
Shortly after, Heimer responded: ‘Handles are in your room.’
It was just hours later that the pledge activities began and Piazza suffered his fatal fall.
Piazza’s father Jim blamed a ‘flagrant disregard’ for the law and said the death ‘didn’t have to happen’ at a press conference last month.
‘Sadly, we’re never going to see his smile again except in pictures,’ said the heartbroken father.
Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a ‘persistent pattern’ of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.
University President Eric Barron called the report heart-wrenching, sickening and incomprehensible.
‘It is numbing how an atmosphere that endangers the well-being and safety of another person could occur within an organization that prided itself on commitment to each other and to its community,’ said Barron in a statement last week.
Miller said video footage turned over to investigators provided evidence of what occurred and contradicted stories some witnesses had told.