follow us on...

Breaking news: Jury finds Ung not guilty of all charges in shooting of former lacrosse standout DiDonato

Tuesday, 15th February 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's  
 

Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/15/11
Staff Report

A jury found Gerald Ung not guilty today of all charges in the Old City shooting of former lacrosse standout Eddie DiDonato.

The verdict came down at 4:15 this afternoon in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas after four hours of deliberations.

Ung, 29, of Fairfax, Va., was acquitted of charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault and possession of an instrument of crime. He had claimed self-defense in the incident involving two groups of friends that met at 2:30 a.m. after night out.

DiDonato, 24, of Blue Bell, a former standout at La Salle College High and Villanova University, was shot six times by Ung on Jan. 17, 2010, at Fourth and Market streets following an altercation. The former two-time captain at Villanova and member of the Explorers’ 2005 state championship team endured multiple operations and still suffers from partial paralysis of his left leg.

After the verdict was read, the courtroom erupted in mostly tears – those of relief and happiness for Ung and his supporters, and shock and dismay for DiDonato and his supporters. Ung, who took the stand in his own behalf Monday, was emotionless at first and then broke down to cry.

“The jury has spoken and I respect the decision, but I am greatly disappointed for Eddie and his family,” said Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott, the chief prosecutor. “I feel badly for what he and they (the DiDonato family) have been through.

“He has four bullets in him and his paralysis is likely permanent.”

Ung’s defense attorney, Jack McMahon, was pleased with the decision, but also sympathetic to DiDonato.

“This is not a day to be ecstatic and happy,” he said. “This was a tragedy. A lot of bad choices were made that night and the jury obviously thought of self defense.

“There are no winners. Mr. DiDonato suffered injuries and I hope that he can improve and get his life back just as Mr. Ung gets his life back.”

DiDonato’s father, Edward DiDonato Sr., who visited his son every day for three months while he recovered in the hospital said only: “My heart is broken, I have no comment.”


READERS COMMENTS (29)

  1. DaTruth says:

    What the heck is this? He goes out drinking, brings a gun, starts trouble because he doesn’t like the girl he was with talking to other guys, shoots someone and gets off scott free? Where’s the accountability in this country? Travesty of justice.

    • phillylaxfan says:

      Indeed it is. So anyone can go out drinking with a loaded gun and itch to use it all night, but claim self defense when he can’t wait any longer to shoot it and gravely wounds a person?!

      I think the jury was on what Ung was on that night!

    • G Money says:

      Don’t let things like facts get in the way of your delusions. “not guilty” means 12 men and 12 women, six of whom were selected by the prosecutor, all thought ung was innocent due to the fact that he was acting in self-defense. in addition, they reached this conclusion within a few hours of the trial ending.

      watch the video, and read the trial transcript. didonato’s parents are understandably staying by eddie. nothing wrong with supporting him. but don’t enable his stupidity by denying that he did something very wrong – though to be fair one of his friends is probably more to blame than even eddie.

      • Guest says:

        Ummm,his stupidity? So it isn’t stupid to go out drinking with a loaded semi-automatic gun and then shoot a guy in the abdomen and chest 6 times? A warning shot or a shot to the arm or leg wouldn’t have stopped the “big bully”? pleeeaassee…stop rationalizing unacceptable and life altering behavior.

        • IDPA says:

          “A warning shot or a shot to the arm or leg . . .”

          Please go take a concealed carry course, or other pistol class. Your ignorance on the appropriate defensive use of a handgun is simply painful.

          • Guest says:

            I’m not terribly concerned about taking a concealed carrying course or other pistol class. I am concerned that a young man was shot 6 times in his vital organs instead of an arm or leg. Ignorance of appropriate handgun defense…REALLY?

          • IDPA says:

            Yes, “REALLY” – either he shouldn’t have been shot at all, or it was correct to fire many rounds as were necessary to physically stop him from continuing to move forward, presenting a threat to the shooter.

            There is no in between ground, at least not outside your fantasy world of “gee, couldn’t he shoot to warn?”

        • Anonymouse says:

          Shooting him repeatedly in the abdomen didn’t stop him either. Nor did kicking him. If shooting him in the abdomen didn’t stop him, why do you think shooting him in the arm or leg would?

        • Sebastian says:

          Considering that Eddie DiDonato was in possession of the Ung’s leg, one would question how it would be possible to shoot Eddie in the leg without running the serious risk of Ung hitting his own leg.

          The lesson here is not to charge someone who has a gun drawn on you unless your life depends on it. Given that Ung was retreating when his gun was drawn, the smart move was to walk away. If DiDonato had just walked away, Ung wouldn’t have fired. If he had, I would have agreed he should go to prison.

    • OG says:

      Plenty of accountability. DiDonato thought he could start (something) because he was rich. Justice was served.

  2. Anonymouse says:

    Mr. Ung went out with his friends, legally carried his gun because he had a VA license (which has reciprocity with PA) and according to the video, did not fire until after Mr. Kelly had assaulted both him and the young woman he was with. According to the testimony, Mr. Kelly threatened to kill the young woman for preventing him from hitting Ung, and Mr. Ung did not fire until after he had already kicked at Mr. DiDonato, trying to keep him away.

    In PA, the standard for self-defense is that the defendant must not have provoked the incident (and trash talking is not provocation), must retreat, and must reasonably fear death, serious bodily injury, or that certain listed felonies are about to be committed by his attacker against him or any third person.

    Ung walked away the whole time. Kelly hit first. And at the point where DiDonato kept going after him after the gun was drawn, even if DiDonato was no good in a fist fight, he would have been dangerous with a gun.

    The jury did the right thing.

  3. JSatclaire says:

    Lot of legal commentary on the pros and cons of the verdict over here: http://abovethelaw.com/2011/02/breaking-temple-law-student-gerald-ung-found-not-guilty-in-shooting/

    • Guest says:

      Not worth reading, the site is merely law gossip and not sound at that.

      • Anonymouse says:

        Somebody is defensive. For those who are interested, I and others on that site posted the elements of self-defense in PA, which are as follows:

        (a) he reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury and that it was necessary to use deadly force against the victim to prevent such harm; (b) that the defendant was free from fault in provoking the difficulty which culminated in the slaying; and (c) that the actor did not violate any duty to retreat.

        Comm. v. Samuel, http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=14326185912404036154&q=590+a2d+1245&hl=en&as_sdt=4,39

        In that case, displaying a weapon was ruled not to be provocation.

        Interesting that you wouldn’t want people reading legal commentary–sounds like you have an axe to grind.

        • Maryp123 says:

          Why come on here to try to stir something up? Obviously people who read this site are supporters of Eddie. The guy was shot 6 times. Nobody deserves that. Unless you were there, I have a feeling you have no idea what you’re talking about.

          • IDPA says:

            “The guy was shot 6 times. Nobody deserves that.”

            Sorry, that’s just not true. Do something dumb and there can be consequences.

          • JC says:

            So supporters of Hitler and Nazi theory and political rhetoric should not be questioned in and on their own sites because the site is for supporters? Or skinhead rallies should not be protested because the rally is for supporters?

            Forget about whom or who you support and why; rather look at the issue at hand. The law is stated clearly. The video illustrates what happened fairly clearly. Ung, no matter how reckless a manner you think he acted, acted, in fact, by the letter of the law.

            This was an avoidable act by both parties. Both parties will in deed suffer for the rest of their lives, but it is wrong to state someone should be imprisoned only because you support the victim, and that support causes you to disregard the law.

            I support the victim and his family. I am appalled at what occurred. But I do not support imprisoning someone only because I disagree and do not support their reasoning or side of a story. That would be a real illustration of travesty effecting our legal system.

          • Guest says:

            “I support the victim and his family.”

            In this case, the victim was Gerald Ung. DiDonato was just an aggressor who got himself hurt.

          • Anonymouse says:

            A man was put on trial for defending himself and his friends against bullies who followed them. One of them threatened the life of his female companion for blocking a punch he was trying to throw at a that man. I think that is a fairly grave injustice.

            I wouldn’t have had anything to say, despite that, had Guest not lied about the law and the facts. The truth should be told.

  4. Guest says:

    First of all Anonymouse, learn to spell, secondly, walking backwards with your hand in your pocket and your hand on the gun from the get go is very apparent on the video. I am quite familiar with the law and the case more than you are for there was never a punch thrown by Kelly or anyone. The jury was wrong.

    • Anonymouse says:

      First of all, learn to reply, second of all, there are no misspellings in my post, Anonymouse is a handle.

      Third of all, watch the video. Kelly clearly hit first.

      Here is the link:

      http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Old_City_Shooting_01_17_10

      Second of all, the girl testified that Kelly both struck her when attempting to hit Ung, and that he threatened to kill her:

      http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20110211_Different_version_of_Old_City_shooting_emerges_at_trial.html

      Also, I didn’t say Kelly punched anyone, I said he struck and assaulted them. So it didn’t have to be a literal punch, from the video, it looks more like a shove.

      If you know more about the law than I do, you haven’t demonstrated it yet.

      • Guest says:

        Sounds to me, you have a dog in this fight “Anonymouse” so obviously you are not capable of seeing clearly or responding soundly.

        • Anonymouse says:

          Try pointing to flaws in my argument. You’re the one that appears to have a dog in this fight, because you are taking positions without backing them up.

          And you make some bogus claims about understanding the law and the facts–but are unwilling to discuss them.

        • Guest, Esq. says:

          You clearly have no grasp of the law. You think it’s unfair, which is an understandable reaction, but that doesn’t make what Anonymouse is saying wrong. He’s interpreting the law correctly.

    • Sebastian says:

      I carry firearm for self-protection on a fairly regular basis. Quite often the same model pistol Gerald Ung was carrying that night. It is not unreasonable for him to be in a position to draw quickly if he’s reasonably apprehensive about the possibility of trouble. I have never been in a situation where I’ve felt the need to draw my firearm, let alone point it as someone, but I won’t say I’ve never been in a position where I haven’t had my hand in my pocket ready to draw if necessary. During that period, I also kept my eye on the potential threat.

      Ung’s actions were not unreasonable. The lesson here is when confronted with words, to walk away. It’s not worth it. Whatever your pissed at, it is just not worth it. I don’t’ care how much of a jackass you think the other guy is. You take words to the next level, there’s no good that’s going to come of that.

  5. Sebastian says:

    I want to thank Phillylacross.com for being an excellent source of information during this trial. There are no winners in this case, because everyone in it was a loser. Eddie DiDonato will have to live for the rest of his life disabled because of his poor judgement, and Gerald Ung will spend a significant part of his life paying off his legal bills, and trying to get past the events of that night.

    Ultimately, however, the jury has spoken. I believe this is a just verdict. But I hope all the parties are able to move on in their respective lives, and will take important lessons away from the circumstances here.

  6. Sean says:

    While obvious emotions rage on both sides of this debate, I want to commend this website for its reporting on the trial. The news articles written of late have been much less biased, and the writing first-rate. I also want to commend you guys on allowing the heated discussions that have taken place in the comments section — it would have been easy to slant this completely one way, but you stayed above board.

    To those that think Ung “got away” with something — I ask that you learn before speaking with such ignorance. To say that Ung shot an unarmed man, that simply isn’t true — the life of the girl he was with had been threatened by muscle-bound drunks who then followed him for several blocks. Running across the road, from athletes TRAINED to run, would not have been smart as he would have to turn his back to them and would be less able to watch his own friends.

    Ung didn’t shoot an unarmed man — he shot a man who — along with his friends — had made it very clear they intended to do grave harm to Ung and friends.

  7. Fred Smerlis says:

    “There are no winners in this case, because everyone in it was a loser.”

    Amen, brother.

  8. god says:

    Unfortunate incident all around. But, it was the best possible outcome, and only legally sound outcome.

    Gerald Ung is not, and was not, required to take a beating because Ed DiDonato decided to administer one. Ed DiDonato happened to pick on the wrong person, just the same as if he had picked on a martial arts expert, or off-duty police officer.

    Mr. Ung was legally armed according to state law and the Constitution of the USA. Mr. Ung was also legally allowed to defend himself against an assault that was taking place against him at the time he fired. Mr. Ung was NOT, and would not have been, justified in killing DiDonato AFTER DiDonato stopped attacking him.

    Instead of killing him, he called 911, which is what a responsible armed citizen does when he is no longer in fear of serious bodily injury.

    This is a textbook case of self-defense and the jury of his peers agreed. I wonder if this was the first fight Ed DiDonato had ever gotten into.

    Does anyone know if Ed DiDonato had ever physically assaulted anyone else in his life?

    As an attorney, Ed DiDonato Sr. should respect the jury’s verdict more than anyone else. His skills as a father are questionable if his son is out fighting strangers at 230am.

    I watched the video, I watched Ed follow Gerald, and I watched them fight before the shots.

Latest Headlines