Prospect Park Man Adjudged Sane In Shooting He Shot And Wounded A Postal Worker. A Judge Found Him Guilty Of Assault And A Firearms Charge.

Posted: May 18, 2000

Declaring that Dominic Philiposian was not insane when he shot a Sharon Hill postal worker with a high-powered rifle, a federal judge yesterday found Philiposian guilty of aggravated assault and a firearms charge, but ruled that he was not guilty of attempted murder.

Philiposian could be imprisoned for up to 15 years, including a mandatory 10 years for discharging a gun during a felony, prosecutors and defense attorneys said.

"I'm totally unpersuaded by any standard that the moment he pulled the trigger . . . he was psychotic or out of touch with reality," U.S. District Court Judge Jay C. Waldman said.

Waldman, noting that Philiposian, 25, was an expert marksman, added, "If the man wanted to kill the woman . . . he would have done it."

Philiposian, who wore thick horn-rim glasses, a white T-shirt, and orange prison pants, hung his head as he heard the verdict.

Four rows behind him, the victim, Theresa Ebinger, left the courtroom as soon as the verdict was read.

Ebinger, her left arm in a cast, recently had her fifth surgery since the shooting, and attends therapy three times a week, prosecutors said. She declined to comment.

Philiposian, of Prospect Park, confessed to police that he shot at Ebinger, 42, with a Chinese-made MAK-90 rifle from his third-story bedroom window Jan. 12, 1999. Ebinger, a postal employee for more than 18 years, had just delivered his mail and was walking down the driveway of the house next door.

After firing two bullets, one of which struck Ebinger in the arm and stomach, Philiposian left his apartment in the 600 block of 11th Avenue.

When stopped by police, he said: "I did it, I did it, I admit. . . . I saw her, and I shot her," according to a police affidavit. Authorities later found seven guns in Philiposian's apartment.

The three-day nonjury trial hinged on whether Philiposian was legally insane at the time of the shooting.

His court-appointed attorneys brought in psychiatrists who portrayed Philiposian as schizophrenic and psychotic, and incapable of determining that what he did was unlawful. They said he heard voices from Satan, felt isolated from society, and walked "a tightrope between reality and psychosis."

Psychiatrists for the prosecution said that while Philiposian may have been mentally ill, he was not psychotic and did understand what he was doing, as well as the consequences.

In closing remarks yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Faith Taylor said that Philiposian was suicidal but had made a "conscious decision" not to kill himself, and instead directed his anger at Ebinger.

Philiposian told police that "I wasn't trying to hurt anyone . . . I just wanted to scare her," Taylor said.

"If he did suffer from any mental disease, he would not have been able to take any of these actions," she said.

Waldman noted that Philiposian had held two jobs, and said his actions before, during and after the shooting showed that he understood the nature and consequences of his actions.

He said there were several unanswered questions, such as how far Philiposian had been from the window, that raised reasonable doubt about whether he had intended to kill Ebinger.

A sentencing date has not been set.

Sudarsan Raghavan's e-mail address is raghavs@phillynews.com

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