Previously unseen video surveillance was highlighted in a late morning cross-examination as the prosecution attempted to rebut claims that Timothy Piazza was coherent in the early morning hours after a pledge event where he sustained fatal injuries.
Attorney Theodore Simon had begun questioning State College police Detective David Scicchitano regarding the role Simon’s client, Luke Visser, played in the death of Piazza, 19, raising the issue of voluntary participation in an alcohol obstacle course and the presence of a second club — a former sorority — at a pledge event.
Simon further questioned Scicchitano on statements made by one of the fraternity members that he had been cleaning up vomit on the marble landing outside of the staircase Piazza reportedly fell down, and inquired if the detective had ever learned that there was a female who had been sitting on the steps prior to the fall.
Simon went on to suggest there were other “intervening factors” beyond alcohol consumption that imply Piazza’s fall was an accident.
He went on to request that any reports indicating potential causes for the fall be made available for the defense. District Judge Allen Sinclair indicated those could be made available during the discovery phase.
Simon then accused the prosecution of cherry-picking surveillance footage to show to the court, saying that during the early morning hours before Piazza was found in the basement, he could be seen walking to a set of patio doors and closing them. He also provided still photos of the footage, claiming this “critically important” footage showed Piazza was cognitively functional during this time.
In redirect, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller played the video clip in question, which had not been included during the three hours of footage shown on the first day of the hearing. Piazza’s parents, who have been in attendance at every hearing, stepped out of the courtroom.
The footage, which showed between 7:12 to 7:16 a.m. on Feb. 3, shows one of the pledges leaving the house through the patio doors and leaves them open. Shortly after, Piazza comes into the frame, unsteadily walks to the doors before falling into them.
He then walks away from the doors and collapses into a chair where he lays for a few minutes. He then gets up, walks to the doors and closes them before returning to the chair.
Parks Miller also questioned Scicchitano on the basement cameras, allegedly thought inoperable during the pledge event. The detective testified that an investigation apparently revealed that footage on the cameras had been deleted prior to Feb. 6 where the surveillance picks up again.
Scicchitano said an investigation into one of the defendants regarding the deleted footage is ongoing, but did not identify the individual.
Simon wrapped his questioning and court broke for lunch at 11:30 a.m.
Check back to www.centredaily.com for updates. For more from the courthouse, follow the CDT on Twitter @centredaily.