Last Friday’s evidentiary motions hearing featured a back-and-forth between Judge John Kennedy and Assistant States’ Attorney Stephanie Hall concerning a “PRO Ambulance” subpoena. It seems Hall wants evidence from the company that transported Hailey Pieruccini to Carle Hospital. So far, she doesn’t have it.
Is the state’s attorney’s office seeking on-board camera evidence? Hoping that such a video (assuming it exists) will produce a decisive statement from Pieruccini? Is the state seeking to compel PRO Ambulance’s EMTs to testify about what they remember from that night?
A video would be the state’s best evidence to date. Testimony from medical personnel regarding statements made to them by injured persons can be used to determine how a person was injured, but not who injured them (except in child sex abuse cases). Consequently, electronic evidence of Pieruccini speaking Tate’s name would be a precious find for the prosecution.
But why would it be? The very first reporting on the Tate case quoted Champaign Police Sgt. Bruce Ramseyer’s proclamation that Pieruccini told police Tate hit her, and an admission that she had some sort of relationship with Tate. If that’s true, why would a recording from PRO Ambulance be necessary?
This is where two questions arise regarding Pieruccini’s statement to police
- Did she, in fact, use Tate’s name?
- Was her statement recorded audio-visually?
Judge Kennedy was adamant and animated in ruling that Tate’s name could not be inferred or implied from a Pieruccini statement supposedly made to Andre Lee. And while Lee’s statement was admitted in part, it’s of little value in the case against Tate, because Pieruccini never used Tate’s name to Lee. The suggestion that Jaylon Tate hit Pieruccini originated, it seems, with Lee.
Nicole Evans’s statement was ruled inadmissible, but would have been similarly useless. Once again, it was not Pieruccini who named Tate. It was Evans.
Kate Giddens’s statement identifies Jaylon, and the implication is that Pieruccini spoke that name to Giddens. Giddens arrives on the scene after the Tate theory has been introduced by Lee, but that doesn’t matter for evidentiary purposes. Her account has been deemed admissible. The next question is whether she will show up at trial to produce a substantially similar story to the prosecution’s proffer.
But what exactly was proferred? Did Giddens identify a culprit by his full name? If Giddens can’t specifically recall Pieruccini saying “Jaylon Tate” but only “Jaylon,” her testimony is less valuable. Evans, when presented with the story, thought Giddens was talking about an entirely different person named “Jayelin.”
Why did Pieruccini go to Lee’s place, anyhow? Is it because they are friends? Lovers? Or was he simply the closest nearby in her time of need? Did she call others first, only to get voicemail?
The person first identified in these pages as “C” was, according to sources, the person who punched Hailey Pieruccini and escorted her home. Further evidence demonstrated that C did not escort Pieruccini home.
C did make a statement to police. C was in Pieruccini’s company before Pieruccini decided to attend the party at Tate’s apartment. C was not pleased with Pieruccini’s level of intoxication. What no one knows is whether C’s annoyance rose to the level of a violent outburst.
If C punched Pieruccini, it’s not inconceivable that Pieruccini would seek shelter at Lee’s apartment rather than walking the four blocks to her own. Lee’s apartment is a one minute walk from C’s, if one cuts through the yards and alleys between them. Pieruccini’s place is four-tenths of a mile from C’s (and Lee’s) apartment. Walking there would have required Pieruccini to navigate a gauntlet of drunk revelers, while still bleeding from the face.
(Another curious aspect about these distances was Stephanie Hall’s answer to Kennedy’s query “how long did it take” for Giddens to drive Pieruccini home from Lee’s apartment? Hall said “ten minutes.” The distance is 5 1/2 blocks. There’s one left turn, and one busy street to cross.)
It’s still possible that C did the punching. C has not been identified in any published accounts of the Tate case, but C’s apartment is in the direction Pieruccini seemed to be headed when she departed West Quad, the massive complex which houses most of the Illini basketball team.
PRO Ambulance is a key figure in People v Jaylon Tate because Pieruccini consistently declined to identify Tate to police, from the outset of their investigation. Evan Bruno told the News-Gazette he rejected the state’s characterization of Pieruccini as uncooperative. She spoke freely with police, but continually told them and her roommates that she just wanted to go to sleep, that her injuries were her own fault, that she didn’t want medical treatment, that she just wanted the whole brouhaha to go away.
So why did police keep pushing her to seek treatment? And why are prosecutors now seeking evidence that arose as a result of that treatment?
Perhaps Champaign Police prodded Pieruccini to accept medical treatment simply out of concern for her health. But it’s not inconceivable that they had an ulterior motive.
People tell their doctors things they won’t tell anyone else. When the EMTs arrived, you can rest assured the police were listening to what Pieruccini told them.
We can infer answers to the two questions posed above, based on the state’s seeking the PRO Ambulance subpoena.
- Maybe Pieruccini did say Jaylon Tate’s name to investigating officers. Maybe she merely assented to the suggestion of Tate’s name, as she did to Evans. Maybe she said only “he” as she did to Lee
but whichever the case
2. CPD must not have an audio-visual capture of the moment.
If the best evidence the CPD can provide is a police officer’s hearsay testimony (admissible because police reports are regularly recorded in the standard operating procedure of police business) a reasonable jury might wonder why no A/V evidence is offered to support the narrative. CPD interviewed a number of witnesses to the night’s events, and some of those interviews were recorded audio-visually.
How many of those recordings feature people saying “nope, I was with Jaylon all night” and “she was fine when she left” etc. A few?
And how many of them feature people saying “Jaylon Tate hit me” or “she said Jaylon Tate hit her” and similar. Zero?
Tate’s defense team would be wise to draw attention to that incongruity.