In a surprise revelation Thursday, State College police Detective David Scicchitano revealed that video footage from the basement of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house had existed but was later intentionally deleted.
The revelation came in the early afternoon during questioning by attorney Theodore Simon, who represents Beta member Luke Visser. Simon had previously accused the prosecution of “cherry-picking” select video clips of the night in question to show to the court.
Scicchitano had previously testified that there were cameras in the basement of the house, but they were inoperable during the evening of the bid acceptance event when Timothy Piazza fell. In a cross-examination with District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller, Scicchitano revealed that police had recently learned that the cameras were in fact operational that night, but the footage had been deleted.
The detective testified that the video recording equipment was retrieved from the house Feb. 6, and that the earliest basement footage was from that same day. This, he said, indicated that all the footage up until that moment had been deleted.
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Scicchitano indicated that one of the defendants was suspected of deleting the footage, but said the investigation is ongoing and would not name the suspect.
Parks Miller said in a news conference after the hearing that the video equipment itself is in the hands of the FBI and a forensic report is expected in the near future.
She could not say if the deleted footage could be recovered, but the hope was that, like some instances when other media is thought to have been wiped away but is later retrieved, some footage would be available.
“We won’t stop investigating until we find all the people responsible” for the decision to delete the footage, Parks Miller said.