Throughout the course of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity case, there have been many questions surrounding the security footage taken from the fraternity house.
On Monday, those questions were answered.
In a press conference, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller released she had filed another round of charges against 12 of the former Beta Theta Pi brothers for their roles in Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza’s death. These charges were filed after Detective David Scicchitano obtained a recovered record of deleted security footage from the Beta Theta Pi house after he realized footage had been deleted.
Scicchitano initially obtained a search warrant on July 26 of this past summer to look through video recorded on the Beta Theta Pi security footage for another, unrelated, criminal investigation. However, when looking at the footage he realized he was looking at angles “he had never seen before,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Scicchitano, who had spent “many hours” reviewing the footage from between Feb. 2 and Feb. 3, had never seen these viewpoints, several of which showed angles in the basement which he was told were not originally working, according to the affidavit.
When Scicchitano checked the video data page, it read: “Clear All Data 2/6/2017 10:09:39,” so he decided to check DVR 1, four minutes behind the second box, which revealed footage all the way back to Jan. 31, 2017, according to the affidavit.
Suspecting there had been footage deleted, Scicchitano called the SPECO Company about the DVR models and it was revealed the message on the second DVR box meant someone had deleted the footage, according to the affidavit.
On July 27, Detective Craig Ripka told Scicchitano he had pictures of the closet in which the DVR boxes were stored, pictures of House Manager Braxton Becker gaining access into the closet with a key and pictures of Becker sitting in a chair in front of the machine, according to the affidavit.
Ripka also told Scicchitano he had pictures of the machines themselves and of the settings — so he could show the IT department the cables to get help in removing the machines, according to the affidavit.
Becker — who said he knew the photographs were being taken and allowed them to be taken by Ripka — and Tim Bream were the only two people in the house with a key to the machines and knowledge of how to operate them, according to the affidavit.
Back in spring 2017, Becker showed Ripka which screens were operational. Four of them were blue, which Becker said meant they were not operational and the cameras were not recording. Becker told Scicchitano the cameras were in the process of being fixed.
Scicchitano then sent the DVR boxes to the FBI on Aug. 8, after obtaining a search warrant, according to the affidavit.
The FBI’s lab in Philadelphia sent back a thumb drive and a hard drive loaded with the recovered footage, determining it had been deleted on Feb. 6. The video had 12 channels on it, and three of them were basement cameras, according to the affidavit.
The FBI advised Scicchitano that the accurate times did not transfer over during the recovery process of the deleted footage. All times below are the times in the video as they appeared after the video’s recovery.
Real times are not reflected below.
RECOVERED FOOTAGE TIMELINE
The pledges, including Piazza, were seen walking into the Home Bar Room. They sat by the TV. The following brothers were present at this time: Joseph Ems, Parker Yochim, Ryan Burke, Lars Kenyon, Luke Visser, Stephen Disko and Luke Rockwell.
The pledges were lined up. Burke led the pledges in a line out of the room.
Burke brought the pledges back to this room, and they sat again on the benches by the TV.
Pledge master Daniel Casey led the pledges from this room to the Dance Room. Simultaneously, Assistant Pledge Master Joseph Sala went to the bar and grabbed a handle of vodka; he was smiling at the time. He went toward the Dance Room.
The Dance Room was dark, but there was ambient light from the Home Bar Room. The pledges, including Piazza, were led into this room by Casey and they lined up along the north wall. Casey walked off camera to the right. He returned with a handle of vodka in his hand. He went to the front of the line. Sala entered the dance room with both hands now in his pocket. Casey handed the vodka to the first pledge.
Scicchitano observed that this was when the hazing activity first began.
This bottle was lifted and drank from as it made its way down the line, then back to the first person — and back down the line again. This bottle made three passes, and each pledge drank from it 3 times. This took approximately 5 minutes.
Casey and Sala led the pledges back to the Home Bar Room. Casey was carrying the handle of vodka in his right hand. The pledges were led out of the room to the hallway.
Sala led the pledges, including Piazza, in a line outside to the north side door. Sala entered that door while the pledges stayed outside in a line.
The pledges started to enter the house.
Pledge Samuel Black was the last pledge to enter the house.
According to the affidavit, previous video footage showed the hazing activity — “the gauntlet” — continued at this point on the first floor hallway at the north end. Casey, when they entered the door, handed each pledge a handle of vodka from which they had to drink fast and then run to the second station in the lobby, which was a beer-shotgun station.
According to the affidavit, Michael Bonatucci, Jonah Neuman and Nicholas Kubera — all brothers — were handing beer cans to pledges to shotgun. The next station was, according to the affidavit, at the top of the basement stairs where Gary Dibileo — also a brother — held a wine bag up from which each pledge had to drink.
The next time Piazza was seen on the basement video was during the beer pong station, which was being held in the Dance Room. He jogged into the Dance Room.
Brother Luke Visser, who was running the station, poured a can of beer (Natural Light) into a cup and put the cup on the far end of the table. Piazza stood at the opposite end of the table and threw a ping pong ball. Piazza then walked to the left side of the table and drank this cup of beer that Visser poured.
Brother Joshua Kurczewski then gave Piazza a can of beer after Piazza had lined up against the north wall again.
The pledges, including Piazza, were all lined up against the north wall. They all did a beer shotgun as a class. Casey was in front of them, and he raised his arm. Lars Kenyon was waving his arms.
Piazza then left the Dance Room and went into the Home Bar Room.
Brother Aidan O’Brien gave Piazza a can of beer. Piazza drank from this can.
Brother Luke Visser held a wine bag up to Piazza and Piazza chugged from it.
Brother Gary Dibileo held a wine bag up to Piazza and Piazza chugged from it.
Brother Aidan O’Brien held a wine bag up to Piazza and Piazza chugged from it.
Brother Ryan Burke gave a handle of vodka to Piazza and Piazza chugged from it.
Piazza, while in the Home Bar Room, was observed to be staggering. This was the first time that Scicchitano saw on video that Piazza was visibly intoxicated.
Brother Jonathan Kanzler held a wine bag up to Piazza and Piazza chugged from it. Piazza was staggering and swaying.
Brother Luke Visser held up a winebag that Piazza drank from.
Piazza staggered backwards into Aidan O’Brien, and he was swaying.
Brother Nick Kubera handed Piazza a can of beer; Piazza chugged from it and gave the can back to Kubera. Piazza’s staggering and swaying was worsening.
Brother Nick Kubera gave Piazza a beer can again; Piazza chugged from it and gave the can back to Kubera. Piazza then left the Home Bar Room. Piazza staggered through the Dance Room.
Piazza staggered through the crowded dance floor to the Home Bar Room from the Dance Room and he then headed towards the hallway. Brother Daniel Casey was at the home bar, and another brother pointed Piazza out to Casey. Casey remained at the bar. Piazza staggered into Away Bar Room. He staggered back out.
Piazza staggered down the hall, and he left toward the Dance Room and Bar Room.
Piazza staggered through the Home Bar Room and entered the Dance Room. Piazza staggered across the dance floor to the stage; he walked right behind Brendan Young, and he walked into Casey. He went to the back, and put his arms around two girls.
Piazza was in the back of the Dance Room. Piazza chugged from a bottle of vodka given to him by brother Bohan Song. Piazza was visibly intoxicated.
Piazza staggered and ran into someone in the hallway, and he went into the Away Bar Room.
Piazza staggered out of the room, down the hall. Brother Lars Kenyon grabbed him and then let him continue down the hall.
10: 45 a.m.
Piazza staggered past Kenyon in the hallway and entered the Away Bar Room.
Piazza staggered toward the Home Bar Room. Piazza staggered through the Home Bar Room to the Dance Room. Piazza staggered into the Dance Room; he put his arms around two girls. One of the girls got Brother Daniel Prior, who talked to Piazza. Joseph Ems then pushed Piazza to the side of the stage.
Piazza staggered out of the Dance Room. Piazza staggered into the Home Bar Room; he turned around and went back.
Kenyon walked Piazza down the hallway towards the steps.
According to the affidavit, Scicchitano’s previous investigation revealed Piazza fell down the basement stairs, which led to his death, at around 11:22 p.m. and was carried up the stairs to the first floor right afterward. The next time Scicchitano saw Piazza on the basement footage, it was in the morning hours.
Note again: All times below are the times into the video as they appeared after the video’s recovery. Real times are not reflected below.
Piazza staggered on his feet down the hallway and turned right into the Away Bar Room. He had no shirt on and no shoes on.
Piazza was seen on his hands and knees in the Away Bar Room. He buried his head in his hands on the floor. He sat up and got to his feet. He staggered behind the away bar and then goes out of view.
Piazza was on his feet behind the away bar. He put his head down onto the bar. He now has a black coat on. He then went down behind the bar.
Pledge Daniel Erickson walked past the away bar room with his head turned towards that room; he kept walking towards the stairs.
Daniel Erickson walked down the hall and turned right into the away bar room. He looked behind the away bar. Brothers Kyle Pecci and Ryan Foster entered. All three of them went behind the bar. Pecci moved the bar out. Erickson had Piazza from behind up under his arms. Foster lifted Piazza’s torso on his left side. Pecci lifted Piazza’s ankles. Piazza was stiff and his left hand was clenched; he was unconscious.
9: 41 p.m.
They carried Piazza towards the stairs.
End footage timeline.
Scicchitano said Piazza had consumed at least 18 alcoholic beverages in about 1 hour and 22 minutes. Dr. Harry Kamerow, who back-tracked Piazza’s Blood Alcohol Content while reviewing the footage, determined Piazza’s BAC to be between 0.28 and 0.36 percent at the time of Piazza’s fall down the basement steps at 11:22 p.m. — about 15 minutes after his last drink.
Scicchitano also determined through the footage that all of the drinks given to Piazza were done so by a fraternity brother, not pledges or Trilogy sisters, and Piazza grabbed none himself.
Based on the footage, charges of aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, furnishing / consuming malt, liquor or brewed beverages and others were levied against O’Brien, Song, Burke, Kanzler and Kurczewski based on their individual roles throughout the video.
INDIVIDUAL ROLES IN FOOTAGE
Aidan O’Brien (West Chester, Pennsylvania) — 19 years old at the time of footage
- Role: According to the affidavit, O’Brien gave Piazza a can of Natural Light in the home bar room at 9:39 a.m. O’Brien, also on the video in the Home Bar Room, held up a bag of Franzia wine to Piazza, 19, for him to chug from.
Bo Han Song (Wayne, Pennsylvania) — 18 years old at the time of footage
- Role: According to the affidavit, Song gave pledge Qobi Quainoo, 18, a can of Natural Light in the Home Bar Room at 9:52 a.m. and less than a half-hour later poured another can of Natural Light beer into the mouth of pledge Daniel Erickson, 18, in the Dance Room. At 10:39 a.m., Song then gave Piazza, who, according to the affidavit, was “already visibly intoxicated (staggering/swaying)” a handle of Crown Russe vodka to chug from in the Dance Room.
Ryan Burke (Scranton, Pennsylvania) — 20 years old at the time of footage
- Role: According to the affidavit, Burke was taped giving a handle of Crown Russe vodka to pledges Samuel Black,18; Piazza, Theodore Lorenz, 19; and Erickson to chug from in the Dance Room.
Jonathan Kanzler (Coopersburg, Pennsylvania) — 18 years old at the time of footage
- Role: According to the affidavit, Kanzler held up a bag of Franzia wine to pledge Theodore Lorenz to chug from in the Home Bar Room at 9:47 a.m. Twelve minutes later, Kanzler is shown on the video.
Joshua Kurczewski (Erie, Pennsylvania) — 18 years old at the time of footage
- Role: According to the affidavit, Kurczewski handed pledges Crane, 23; Rallis, 19; Fleri, 24; Saluga, 19; Lorenz, Morreale 18; Quainoo, Piazza, Erickson and Black each a can of Natural Light from which they had to shotgun while lined up.