Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/11/11
While the prosecution rested its case today in the trial of shooting victim Eddie DiDinato, the defense began its case by presenting many character witnesses who described Gerald Ung as a “peaceful, honest and law-abiding citizen.”
The testimony gave a new perspective in Ung’s trial, which completed its first week in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Ung, 29 of Virginia, is facing charges of attempted murder and related offenses in the shooting of DiDonato, 24, a former La Salle College High and Villanova University lacrosse standout. The incident occurred last year on Jan. 17 at Third and Market streets in Philadelphia.
In testimony on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott tried to establish that DiDonato and his four friends did nothing to warrant a self-defense claim for shooting DiDonato six times.
But today, defense attorney Jack McMahon brought in a number of Ung’s friends and family members, each of whom pegged as a fine young man, son and friend.
After the character witnesses were brought up to testify, the defense called Rouzbeh Afsarmanesctehrar to he stand. Afsarmanesctehrar was one of two friends with Ung during the altercation that led to the shooting.
Afsarmanesctehrar testified that he and Ung felt threatened by DiDinato and his friends as the two group walked down Market street while trading insults.
“My attention was on Eddie,” Afsarmanesctehrar testified. “It was going fast and out of control. I had a feeling he was coming at us. Just my personal feeling
“I don’t remember what was being said. I just had a feeling he may come at us and that this wasn’t going in a good direction.”
Afsarmanesctehrar also testified that for nearly the entire altercation he had his hand on the pocket in which Ung had his hand on the semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting.
“I knew Gerald had a loaded gun and that is why I had my hand on his hand,” he testified. “I tried to take down the street to walk away from them.”
Afsarmanesctehrar also said he wanted to convince DiDonato and his friends to leave them alone. He said he said to DiDonato, “I beg you man let us go,” but was unsure if it was heard.
Afsarmanesctehrar also said he never noticed DiDonato’s friend, Tom Kelly, who had testified earlier in the week that he continually traded insults with Ung and was said to have rushed Ung twice by McMahon.
”I don’t remember anything except for the last minute,” Afsarmanesctehrar testified “It was really scary. Eddie started coming at us and that is when I stepped away. Eddie got very close; it was definitely going very bad and I know Gerald had a gun.”
Afsarmanesctehrar claimed that DiDionato approached Ung and shoved him in the chest before Ung kicked at him and shot him twice at the same time.
Afsarmanesctehrar did not recall hearing Ung or DiDonato say anything before the shooting.
”When the gun was pulled, unfortunately I felt happy,” Afsarmanesctehrar testified. “I didn’t want to be beat on the street. I didn’t know it was going to go as far as it did.
“I was really scared. At the last moment there was no way we could stop these kids from coming.”
In cross examination, Afsarmanesctehrar said he “did my best to be the peacemaker. I had my hand on his (Ung’s) hand and grabbed his arm.
“I knew he had a gun and carried it most of the time when he was in Philly and when he was drinking.”
Afsarmanesctehrar admitted in testimony that at least on one occasion he asked Ung not to bring his gun when they were going out at night.
Another defense witness, Joy Keh, who was with Ung and Afsarmanesctehrar, called DiDonato and his friends “a bloodthirsty gang.”
She said she was extremely fearful because “the white hat guy (Kelly) was about to sucker-punch Gerald’s blind side. I blocked him. They were screaming and being aggressive; they wouldn’t stop.
I heard (Kelly) scream, I’ll kill you; you’re dead.” Then she testified she screamed back, “Stop, you’re a good person!” She claimed he rushed them again.
She said she heard Ung scream something like back off and thought someone shot Ung and checked herself to see she wasn’t shot. .
Keh never gave police a statement and left for her home in New York City early the next morning.
Ung is expected to take the stand Monday.