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Cop at PSU frat brothers’ hearing: Pledge ‘looked like a corpse’

The Associated Press

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — A detective testifying at a hearing for 18 Penn State fraternity brothers accused in the death of a 19-year-old pledge said Monday the student looked like a corpse in surveillance video from the frat house.

This Oct. 31, 2014, photo provided by Patrick Carns shows Timothy Piazza, center, with his parents Evelyn Piazza, left, and James Piazza, right, during Hunterdon Central Regional High School football's "Senior Night" at the high school's stadium in Flemington, N.J. Prosecutors in Pennsylvania are set to announce, Friday, May 5, 2017, the results of a grand jury investigation into the death of the Penn State student, Timothy Piazza, who fell down steps Feb. 4, during an alcohol-fueled pledge ceremony. (Patrick Carns via AP)

“He looked dead, he looked like a corpse,” said State College Police Detective David Scicchitano, describing sophomore Tim Piazza’s appearance in footage showing frat brothers carrying him upstairs the morning after a pledge event that involved heavy drinking.

Scicchitano spoke at preliminary hearing at a courthouse near campus that will determine if there’s enough evidence to send the case to court for trial.

Security camera shows Penn State frat pledge’s final hours in hazing ritual

Video shot inside the Beta Theta Pi house was being shown from the night the pledge was fatally injured in a series of falls.

Piazza’s father, Jim, rocked back and forth quietly in the front row of the courtroom as he heard his son’s final hours described. When the video started, he and his wife Evelyn left the courtroom.

FILE – In this April 4, 2017, file photo, Penn State's former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house on Burrowes Road sits empty after being shut down in State College, Pa. Security camera footage of the night pledge Tim Piazza was fatally injured at a fraternity event is expected to be at the center of a court hearing. Prosecutors say the Monday, June 12, hearing at a courthouse near campus could take much or all of the day. Eighteen Beta Theta Pi members and the fraternity itself face a preliminary hearing that will determine if there’s enough evidence to send the case to trial. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times via AP, File)

Scicchitano said the footage shows Piazza was clearly injured after his first serious fall, at 11:22 p.m.

“He is unconscious, his eyes are closed, he is limp. He is dead weight,” he said, also noting he had a bruise on his abdomen.

By about 3 a.m., the detective said, Piazza was left alone on the couch. He later falls several times in the house’s great hall and other areas.

He can be seen hitting his head and stomach, rolling around on the floor and then staggering severely to the lobby area and toward the basement stairs, Scicchitano said.

He’s not seen on tape again until two hours later, when brothers looking for him find him in the basement.

Piazza was carried upstairs and had labored breathing, he said.

By that time, he had “lost all color,” and some of the fraternity members thought he may have died, Scicchitano said.

Michael Schiavone, right, arrives for his preliminary hearing on charges related to the hazing death of Timothy Piazza at Penn State's Beta Theta Pi fraternity, at the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte, Pa., Monday, June 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Knight)

The defendants face a variety of charges, with some accused of involuntary manslaughter and felony aggravated assault. The fraternity chapter is also a defendant.

Piazza, of Lebanon, New Jersey, died at a hospital Feb. 4 from traumatic brain injury and had suffered severe abdominal bleeding. His blood-alcohol measured at a dangerous level.

Penn State has permanently banned the fraternity, saying the school found “a persistent pattern” of excess drinking, drug use and hazing.