Penn State student Timothy Piazza "looked like a corpse" following the fatal injury he sustained while pledging to Beta Theta Pi fraternity, a detective testified Monday (12 June). The 19-year-old died on 4 February after falling down the stairs of the frat house during a pledge ceremony two days earlier.
Eighteen Penn State students face charges in Piazza's death. According to ABC News, eight face charges for involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, hazing and other charges. Four for reckless endangerment, hazing and other charges and six for evidence tampering.
Their fraternity, which was barred from Penn State, is also facing charges, including involuntary manslaughter and hazing. The students have not entered pleas.
A report on the grand jury's investigation found that fraternity members did not call 911 until the morning of 3 February, 12 hours after Piazza fell. The forensic pathologist found that Piazza's death "was the direct result of dramatic brain injuries". He also suffered a fractured skull and lacerated spleen.
Surveillance video from the fateful 2 February incident was played in open court on Monday. According to ABC News, Piazza's family left the courtroom when the footage was played.
The video shows a visibly drunk Piazza stumbling as he walked during the hazing ritual. The university student was unable to stay still and seemed to be more intoxicated than his fellow pledges.
While his fall is not caught on camera, four fraternity members are seen carrying him upstairs following the fall. Prosecutors said the large bruise seen on Piazza's body in the video was a spleen injury.
The fraternity brothers are seen putting Piazza on a couch, though he later falls from the couch as well. A detective testified that the fraternity members were "not being careful with his head at all".
The video also shows the fraternity brothers putting a backpack on Piazza so he does not roll on his back and choke on his vomit, ABC News reported. Piazza's head snaps backward as the brothers put the backpack on him.
Piazza stands up, falls to the floor and once again hits his head around 3am, the video shows. A fraternity brother drags him but later leaves him on the floor, throwing a blanket over him. Around 4am, Piazza appears to move into the feotal position as he cradles his head.
Later, Piazza appears to get up and walk directly into a wall, prompting him to fall head first. ABC News reported he is seen getting getting up once again, walking into the stair railings and falling onto the stone floor. Piazza gets up a third time, walks towards the front door and slams into it.
Late the next morning, fraternity members found the 19-year-old on his back in the basement, breathing heavily and his face covered in blood. His eyes were half open and he felt cold to the touch, a brother said. Three students carried his unconscious body and placed him back on the couch. Video shows them shaking Piazza and attempting to prop him up.
State College Detective David Scicchitano said no one performed CPR on Piazza the morning of 3 February. Video shows the members talking and exchanging concerned looks before they call 911. The detective said the teen had "lost all colour" by that point. Scicchitano noted the fraternity members tried to dress him but could not because his body was too rigid.
Piazza was taken to the hospital, but died the following day. His family plans to file a lawsuit against the fraternity members, as well as Penn State.