Two North Philadelphia men charged in the killing went on trial yesterday in Common Pleas Court.
On one side of the courtroom at the Criminal Justice Center, members of Aidenbaum's family sat solemnly, clasping their hands. On the other side, the families of defendants Lamon Jackson and Thomas Pinckney listened intently, occasionally smiling at the two men.
The prosecution is seeking a first-degree murder verdict and the death penalty for each defendant.
In his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Randolph Williams said Jackson, 25, struck the fatal blow, and Pinckney, 21, stole Aidenbaum's wallet after the victim crumpled to the sidewalk near his apartment in the 1600 block of North Broad Street about 7:35 p.m. on April 28, 1995.
``These two defendants and three other friends were on Broad Street looking for a victim,'' Williams told the jury.
Aidenbaum had told his roommates at about 7:25 p.m., when it was still light out, that he was going to the automated teller machine at the CoreStates Bank in Progress Plaza to get some cash. He had a date that night, the prosecutor said.
After Aidenbaum withdrew $30, he crossed back to the west side of Broad Street and was two doors from his apartment when several young men came up behind him, said Williams. Aidenbaum, who was listening to music over his Sony Walkman, had no warning of the attack.
The prosecutor said Jackson punched Aidenbaum once in the right jaw, knocking him unconscious. Aidenbaum fell to the ground, ``crashing his face against the concrete,'' the prosecutor said.
Next, Pinckney ran up, and took the victim's wallet, MAC card, credit cards and Temple ID, Williams said.
A third man, who has not yet been charged, stole Aidenbaum's Walkman, the prosecutor said.
Two women on their way to church witnessed the attack and saw the unconscious Aidenbaum ``shaking as though he was having a seizure,'' Williams said.
Aidenbaum was rushed to Hahnemann University Hospital and placed on life support. He died about 1:30 p.m. the next day.
Defense attorneys acknowledged in their opening statements that their clients were part of the group that assaulted Aidenbaum. But both argued that the two defendants were not guilty of first-degree murder.
Jackson's attorney, William T. Cannon, admitted that his client struck a single blow with his fist to Aidenbaum's jaw. Cannon said his client would be facing charges of assault rather than murder if Aidenbaum had gotten up and run off.
``Instead, for some reason, that blow occasioned the loss of his life,'' Cannon said. He said the circumstances did not indicate an intent to kill, a requirement for a first-degree murder conviction.
Pinckney's attorney, Tariq El-Shabazz, said his client was guilty only of robbery. He asked the jury to convict his client of that offense.
Aidenbaum, who was born and raised in Bustleton, graduated from Washington High School. On March 16, 1994, he and a friend came to the aid of a fellow Temple student who was screaming for help as a man tried to assault her sexually. They chased the man away and later testified on the student's behalf, according to an assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case.
Aidenbaum and his friend received a letter of commendation from District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham. The assailant was found guilty of attempted rape and sentenced to a minimum of three years at a state institution for sex offenders.