Jury shown video evidence in Nicodemo murder trial

(center,horizontal stripe shirt) Defendant Anthony Nicodemo seated in courtroom. (David M Warren / Inquirer) EDITORS NOTE: JBORGATA17Pl 103458 MAYS LANDING 6/16/08 The reputed leaders of an audacious, $60 million illegal bookmaking operation allegedly run out of the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa appear at an arraignment at criminal courthouse in Mays Landing before Judge Michael Donio. 12/
(center,horizontal stripe shirt) Defendant Anthony Nicodemo seated in courtroom. (David M Warren / Inquirer) EDITORS NOTE: JBORGATA17Pl 103458 MAYS LANDING 6/16/08 The reputed leaders of an audacious, $60 million illegal bookmaking operation allegedly run out of the poker room of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa appear at an arraignment at criminal courthouse in Mays Landing before Judge Michael Donio. 12/ (DAVID M WARREN / Inquirer)
Posted: May 17, 2014

The Dec. 12, 2012, slaying of Gino DiPietro was seen by no one but the masked gunman who emptied a .357 Magnum revolver into the victim on narrow Iseminger Street in South Philadelphia.

On Thursday, however, a Common Pleas Court jury hearing the trial of alleged killer Anthony Nicodemo got a tantalizingly close look, via multiple security cameras showing the hours up to the killing and the minutes after.

"Boom" echoes the first shot, at 2:53 p.m., on the audio from a camera at a house around the corner, in the 1200 block of Johnston Street. A mail carrier working in the back of his van stands erect, turns, and heads toward the shot, his van still open.

There's a second or two of quiet, and then: "Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom."

Passersby stop and then run to where DiPietro, 50, lay dying.

A camera in the rear of the same house catches a figure in black - masked and gloved - running down an alley toward Camac Street.

As startling as the loud shots were to hear - they drove DiPietro's mother from the courtroom weeping - Assistant District Attorney Brian Zarallo spent much more time on video from before and after the killing.

Zarallo alleges that those video cuts show Nicodemo's 2011 black Honda Pilot passing the Johnston Street house six times before the shooting.

Narrated by Homicide Detective Thorsten Lucke, the video shows a man who appears to be Nicodemo get into the SUV behind his house in the 3200 block of South 17th Street. The Pilot pulls away at 12:17 p.m.

At 12:28, a black Honda Pilot cruises by the Johnston Street camera. The drive-by is repeated five times before a last pass at 1:16, 97 minutes before the killing.

On the first day of testimony, Wednesday, a pedestrian on Camac testified that he saw a masked figure in black come out of an alleyway and jump into a black Honda Pilot moments after the shots. He noted the license plate - HTK-1942 - and told police at the scene.

Police identified the plate as Nicodemo's and got to his house within 10 minutes of the shooting. Nicodemo, sweating profusely, was arrested. Police found a revolver wrapped in a jacket behind the driver's seat. Tests showed it was the firearm that killed DiPietro.

Defense attorney Brian J. McMonagle has argued that the gun was planted in the SUV by a masked gunman who jumped into Nicodemo's car, dropped the weapon, and fled.

Questioned by McMonagle, Lucke acknowledged that no video shows the license plate of the cruising black SUV, and that there was no evidence proving that the same vehicle drove by six times.

Among the spectators Thursday was Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Han, a prosecutor in the federal racketeering trial of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi. Ligambi's second trial ended in a hung jury in January and he will not be retried.

Authorities have alleged that Nicodemo is a mob soldier. DiPietro's killing happened during Ligambi's first trial.

Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart has ruled that organized crime may not be mentioned in Nicodemo's trial without evidence that the killing was mob-related.

Zarallo and McMonagle could not comment because of a gag order.

Han, who consulted with Zarallo several times on Thursday, said he was only "watching the trial."

Because of a scheduling conflict, testimony will not resume until Monday.


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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