Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/15/11
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.”