The preliminary hearing for the Beta Theta Pi fraternity members charged in the death of Timothy Piazza, 19, resumed Tuesday morning with cross examination by attorney Stephen Trialonas.
Trialonas, who represents Beta pledgemaster Daniel Casey, initially questioned State College police Detective David Scicchitano on the legality of charging Casey for planning a “life-threatening” event in the form of an alcoholic obstacle course.
His line of questioning was quickly shut down by Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller.
Trialonas changed his questioning to the number of charges faced by his client, pointing out that while Casey faces 50 counts of reckless endangerment for the 50 pledges who had reportedly participated in gauntlets over the semesters, some of the pledges listed had not been part of past obstacle courses. Scicchitano testified that he could not say for certain if all pledges had been part of the events.
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Parks Miller objected to a line of questioning to determine exactly how much Piazza drank during the gauntlet, saying the charges cover the drinking done during the obstacle course and the following social party as a whole.
Questioning became heated as the morning continued when Trialonas requested a portion of the surveillance video be replayed. Initially rejected by Parks Miller, attorneys for the other brothers demanded sanctions against the district attorney after she refuted their objections.
Parks Miller is appealing a May ruling from President Judge Thomas King Kistler to make copies of the video footage available to the fraternity and the 18 members charged in the case. The Alpha Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi alleged in court documents that the copy that had been provided to them had been “modified” after police took possession in February.
District Judge Allen Sinclair ordered that the video be made available to the court and allowed Trialonas to continue his questioning.
Trialonas’ cross examination continued exploring the fact that Casey was only present with Piazza for about 12 minutes before 911 was called in the morning. He also pursued the idea that Piazza did not fall down the steps a second time.