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DiDonato friend testifies: ‘I didn’t see anything happen to make Mr. Ung mad.’

Thursday, 10th February 2011

Categories Boy's/Men's, Posted 2/10/11
Staff Report

Seth Webster testified today that he still does not know what caused Gerald Ung to be motivated to pull out a gun and fire it six times at Eddie DiDonato last January 17.

“To this day, I have no idea what happened,” said Webster during testimony for the Commonwealth in the third day of Ung’s trial at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. “I didn’t see anything happen to make Mr Ung mad.”

Ung, 29, of Virginia, is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of DiDonato, 24, of Blue Bell, at Third and Market streets following a brief dispute. DiDonato, a former lacrosse standout who starred at La Salle College High and Villanova University, suffers from partial paralysis in his left foot and internal injuries.

Webster was questioned by Assistant District Attorney Jan McDermott, who has been trying to prove her case that DiDonato and his four friends did nothing to elicit the six shots fired by Ung.

Defense attorney Jack McMahon continued to claim that Ung acted in self-defense, only after DiDonato approached him and after one of DiDonato’s friends moved toward him twice while Ung walked down Market Street with his two friends during the dispute.

The jury will be asked to make the decision of whether Ung was justified in his action likely Monday when it begins deliberations, according to Judge Glynnis D. Hill. Today, Ung is expected to take the stand in his defense.

Webster testified today that the two groups were exchanging verbal insults. He then testified that Ung turned around to look at them with his hand on his pocket where his semi-automatic gun was held while being restrained by a friend.

Ung had been jawing and trading insults with Tom Kelly, one of DiDonato’s friends who was put on the stand on Wednesday.

In testimony today, Webster responded to McMahon’s claim that Kelly had rushed at Ung twice. Webster testified that Ung spread his legs and put his arms out, pointed the gun at Kelly and said “Back the bleep up.”

Webster continued, saying he and DiDonato walked toward Ung and that Ung swung around and pointed the gun towards them. Webster then testified that DiDonato kept walking toward Ung and said “who ya gonna shoot?” with his hands out by his side at hip level before taking the first two shots.

McMahon, in cross examination, asked how Ung ended up on the ground. Webster was unsure. Webster said he only saw Ung fire the first two shots while standing up and recalled seeing Ung on the ground while still firing at DiDonato.

“Eddie said he couldn’t feel his legs,” Webster testified. “He said, ‘I’m gonna die …don’t let me die here.’”

McDermott also called two independent witnesses to the stand. One of them, Zeina Al-Shaid, who was walking with three friends, said she was alerted to a dispute when she heard Ung say, “Do not piss me off or I’ll shoot you,” shortly before shots rang out.

The second witness, Mamadou Diarrassua, testified that he thought he saw one big group having “an innocent argument among friends.

“I thought they were friends, they were all walking side by side.”

McDermott began the day by calling expert witness Dr. Guy Fried, the Magee Rehabilitation Chief Medical Officer. Fried spoke about DiDonato’s six-week stay at Magee. DiDonato came to Magee in early March after spending 43 days in Jefferson University Hospital.

“He had catastrophic injuries,” Fried said. “He took several injuries to his liver and intestines; the most severe was to the lower spine, causing partial paralysis (of the leg).

”He was in a wheelchair and bed-bound with ongoing paralysis. He couldn’t stand or walk and there was numbness in his legs.”

Fried said DiDonato had to learn to live a new life – and accept where he now was.”

Fried testified that DiDonato was a goof patient who worked hard to recover.

”We were working with him to get his life back as much as we could get it back,” Fried testified. “He was relearning life as it is. He was willing and motivated.

”He was good-natured, motivated, polite, respectful, and he wanted to learn. He looked at it, accepted it and did what we had to do to get home and get on with his life.”

McDermott asked if DiDonato is likely to show much improvement now that over a year has passed since the incident.

”It’s a tough question,” Fried testified. “I like to be optimistic, but the likelihood is, this is as good as it gets – the damage will be permanent.”


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