Mom, 70, used 16-inch blade hidden in walking cane to fatally stab man fighting her adult son near bar; jury calls it murder

News & Politics

A 70-year-old mother was found guilty of murder Thursday for using a 16-inch blade hidden in a walking cane to fatally stab a man fighting her adult son outside a Philadelphia-area bar last year.

As sheriff’s deputies escorted a handcuffed Renee DiPietro through a hallway following the verdict, she was heard saying, “If it was their child, what would they do?” WPVI-TV reported.

According to WPHL-TV, DiPietro’s “child” — her son, Jason, who was involved in the June 10 fight that led to the fatal stabbing — is 29 years old.

What’s the background?

WPHL, citing the Philadelphia Inquirer, said Jason called his mom for a ride home after he sucker-punched a friend of the victim — 31-year-old Michael Sides — inside an Ardmore bar for kissing his girlfriend.

Police said Sides was overheard saying he was going to “seek out” Jason for punching his friend, WPHL said.

Prosecutors said soon after, Jason tried to get into his parents’ vehicle, but Sides stopped him, and police said the two started to fight, WPHL said, adding that DiPietro and her husband were inside the vehicle.

With that, police said DiPietro exited the vehicle and stabbed Sides in the chest with the murder weapon, WPHL reported, after which Sides died at a hospital.

Investigators added that DiPietro bent the vehicle’s license plate to obscure it and prevent her from being identified, WPHL noted.

While DiPietro claimed she was defending her son, WPVI said video played in court showed that she, her husband, and son didn’t call 911 or try to help the victim.

“This defendant injected herself and a 16-inch blade into a fistfight, and while she had the right to defend herself and her son, she did not have the right to take the victim’s life,” Assistant District Attorney Brianna Ringwood said, according to WPVI. “The way she behaved during the fight, and also immediately after the victim fell and was bleeding, demonstrated an indifference to the value of his life.”

Anything else?

The jury spent several hours deliberating before finding DiPietro guilty of third-degree murder and possessing an instrument of crime, WPVI said.

The judge revoked DiPietro’s bail, and she will stay in custody until her sentencing, WPHL said, adding that the Inquirer reported that her sentencing will be scheduled within the next few days. WPHL noted that DiPietro faces up to 20 to 40 years in prison.

DiPietro’s attorney Louis Busico said she didn’t commit murder, WPHL noted, citing the Inquirer — rather that she acted on a “fundamental human instinct” to protect her son and herself.

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