Illini basketball

Subpoenas returned, evidence erased – The Jaylon Tate Saga

In the previous installment of The Jaylon Tate Saga, you learned that Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Hall subpoenaed PRO Ambulance for information about their treatment and transport of Hailey Pieruccini, in the wee small hours of March 12.


Hall received written records from PRO Ambulance, but not video.  Those documents were shared with Tate’s defense team this week. They contain no new information.


In April, Evan Bruno subpoenaed both Pieruccini and André Lee for all communications exchanged between them during the month of March.  Lee deleted his text messages with Pieruccini for the entire month of March. Pieruccini deleted her text messages with Lee from the morning of March 11 onward. The surviving text messages between Pieruccini and Lee come from Pieruccini ‘s phone, with the latest being from the morning of March 11. Lee signed an affidavit stating that he was no longer in possession of any of the requested communications between himself and Pieruccini.

On the night of March 11, softball teammate Carly Thomas refused to allow Pieruccini to drink while Pieruccini was in Thomas’s apartment, not because Pieruccini is underage, but because Pieruccini was already intoxicated.  Pieruccini  split away from her teammates after that. Jade Vecvanags spent most of the day with Pieruccini, but followed through on their plan to attend a party at the football house (across the street from the Beer Barn and down the block from West Quad). Pieruccini instead veered toward West Quad.  Danielle Trezzo accompanied her there, but then departed without her.


Both the football house and West Quad are frequent gathering places for UIUC student-athletes.


Witnesses attending the party at the West Quad apartment shared by Tate and Tracy Abrams described Pieruccini  as “belligerently drunk.”  Conversely, Pieruccini reportedly walked upstairs to Tate’s bedroom, and reclined on his bed until her friends rousted her. Tate remained downstairs among the party’s attendees. After about half an hour, Abrams asked Pieruccini to leave.


Video surveillance footage, already admitted into evidence, shows Pieruccini leaving West Quad alone.


At some point after leaving Tate and Abrams’s apartment, Pieruccini suffered injuries to her face. Did she trip and fall down? Did she stumble into a tree? Did someone punch her?


You can see why Pieruccini would be embarrassed. She’d already been abandoned by her friends, kicked out of one party and refused alcohol at another. If she had stumbled into a tree, would she risk further social ostracization by admitting as much to her peers?


Instead, she attributes her injuries to an unnamed male figure. She doesn’t name person x.  She refuses to cooperate with police. When they arrest Jaylon Tate, she emails Tom Bruno to admit she’s responsible for her injuries.


The state has a single witness, Kate Giddens, who will be able to testify that Pieruccini used the words “Jaylon Tate” to characterize the cause of her injuries. Giddens said Pieruccini claimed she was punched three times, and indicated three spots on her face. Pieruccini  told PRO Ambulance that “he” (unnamed person x) hit her once.


If the state continues to trial, it’s easy to see at least three credible alternative theories to explain Pieruccini’s injuries. What’s difficult to see is how, when or where Jaylon Tate had the opportunity to punch her.