Trial kicked off today for a 2012 South Philly murder that may be connected to organized crime.
Prosecutors are charging Anthony Nicodemo with first-degree murder for the 2012 death of Gino DiPietro, 52.
Prosecutor Brian Zarallo said in his opening statement Tuesday that Nicodemo is guilty of murder for allegedly planning the 2012 slaying and then serving as getaway driver, but said that Nicodemo's friend, who is not charged, was the shooter.
Witness Louis Houck testified that he heard the gunshots from where he was standing on Camac Street, then he saw a man wearing a black mask and a dark jacket run into an SUV, which drove away. Houck memorized the car's tag and wrote it down. Police allegedly matched the tag to Nicodemo's Honda Pilot and arrested Nicodemo at his home later that day.
"Honestly when it happened I was pretty scared," Houck said. "Nothing like that ever happened to me before, I've never seen a guy die in front of me."
"I looked to the left, seen that guy laying down, just put it together, and had to do the right thing," Houck said when asked why he memorized the tag.
But defense attorney Brian McMonagle claimed in his opening statement that Nicodemo was just in the wrong place at the wrong time -- and was held hostage by the shooter for three minutes, who stuffed a revolver wrapped in a fleece in Nicodemo's car and then fled.
"If Anthony Nicodemo was planning to harm this man, would he drive a car with his tag to a neighborhood that he grew up in ... to commit this crime?"
In his opening, McMonagle described Nicodemo's day on Dec. 12 -- taking his son and daughter to a local Catholic school, buying $155 of frozen shrimp for a family dinner that night, then going to his parents' house on Iseminger Street -- near where the murder occurred.
Nicodemo was officially indicted in March 2013 by the grand jury for DiPietro's murder, which took place on the 2800 block of Iseminger Street around 3 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, 2012.
Reports say DiPietro was targeted because he served as a federal informant on his cousin Victor DiPietro.
But Zarallo said the motive for the murder is unknown.