Tate's attorney: Emails tell different story
URBANA — The attorney for University of Illinois basketball player Jaylon Tate said he received email from Tate’s alleged victim recanting her accusation that he struck her over the weekend.
Tom Bruno of Urbana told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he received two emails from Hailey Pieruccini, 19, in the wake of Tate’s arrest for domestic battery. The first, sent late Saturday morning, said Tate had not hit her and was not present when she was struck. A second email sent later Saturday and read by Bruno Sunday morning said she did it to herself.
Tate, a junior point guard, was criminally charged Monday in Champaign County Circuit Court with a single count of misdemeanor battery alleging that he struck Pieruccini in the face Saturday.
Not long after Tate’s arrest, UI basketball coach John Groce moved quickly to suspend him indefinitely from the basketball team.
Bruno said he has already informed the assistant state’s attorney assigned to Tate’s case of the emails he received and planned to share copies of them later today with that office.
“I don’t think the state’s attorney’s office wants to let Jaylon Tate twist in the wind and I’m asking them to act as quickly as possible to clear his name,” Bruno said.
Since being hired Saturday by Tate’s parents, Bruno said he learned that Tate, 21, and other UI basketball players were hosting a party Friday night and early Saturday at their apartment in the first block of East John Street. Several members of the UI softball team, including Pieruccini, a sophomore from Chicago, were guests.
“We believe that Hailey Pieruccini and at least one other softball teammate of hers arrived at the party and were asked to leave because they were intoxicated. When she left, multiple witnesses will say there was nothing wrong with Hailey,” Bruno said.
“What happened to Hailey is a mystery to us, but she has put in writing that Jaylon had nothing to do with this and we are sharing those writings with the state’s attorney,” Bruno said.
He said she and her friend were told to leave the party at 11:30 p.m. Friday.
Bruno said that sometime after that Tate left his own apartment and went to a campus bar, where he was contacted by a friend telling him that police wanted to speak with him. He returned home, talked to the police and was arrested about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Bruno said his client, who denied to police that he had any contact with Pieruccini, was stunned by the accusation.
“He was shocked, bewildered, confused and upset,” Bruno said.
Tate was booked into the county jail about 6:15 a.m. Saturday and had to spend about 28 hours there before he could go before a judge who set bond on Sunday. He was released after bond court Sunday then returned to court Monday for a formal reading of the misdemeanor charge with Bruno present. He was told to be back in court April 20.
Bruno is hoping that Champaign police will re-interview Pieruccini and some of her teammates to get to the bottom of what really happened to her.
On Monday, Pieruccini hired Champaign attorney Scott Lerner to represent her.
Lerner told The News-Gazette he wasn’t interested in talking about the details of any alleged crime.
“It’s scary for any young person to be put in the middle of this sort of controversy, especially when you are dealing with the press and all this stuff related to a basketball player. This is one of those cases where everybody should hold tight, catch their breath, and make sure we get to the truth rather than speculating in newspapers,” he said.
State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Tuesday afternoon she received the emails from Bruno and was reviewing them. She noted that it was not Pieruccini who made the initial report to police but one of her softball teammates.
Bruno said he also forwarded the emails to the Champaign Police Department.