As 88-year-old Albert Korn lay brutally beaten and bleeding in the kitchen of his Belmont home, the man asked for his wife and told first responders he didn’t know what had happened.
But prosecutor Morris Maya told jurors yesterday what he believes led to Korn’s severe injuries on June 2, 2009 — Tyler James Hutchinson, a 22-year-old transient, broke into the Hallmark Drive home and assaulted him severely before fleeing in Korn’s Jaguar with stolen jewelry and a wallet.
Hutchinson, now 25, began trial on murder and robbery charges before a jury yesterday, more than three years after the attack on Korn that led to his death two weeks later when his family removed him from life support. Trial is estimated to last until mid-March and began with Maya telling jurors they will find Hutchinson guilty based on witnesses who saw him in the area and physical evidence at the scene like blood and fingerprints.
Korn was at home alone, his wife having left for the Peninsula Jewish Community Center around 11:45 a.m. and his grown son making a run to a home improvement store for address numbers. Matthew Korn found his injured father in the kitchen and thought initially the man had fallen. Emergency workers called shortly after 4 p.m. felt otherwise.
According to witnesses for the prosecution, the office and master bedroom were ransacked, a great quantity of fresh blood was present and Korn himself was actively bleeding from cuts on his face and what appeared to be a blow to the back of his head.
As Korn received medical care he was mumbling and asking for his wife but later grew quiet, said an emergency medical technician on the scene. Authorities asked Korn how he was injured but he said he couldn’t remember.
Inside the master bedroom’s adjoining closet, a large dresser had several drawers pulled open, testified Belmont police Sgt. Peter Lotti.
Hutchinson was arrested after similar home invasion robberies in West Sacramento following the fatal encounter with Korn. After being convicted in those crimes, Hutchinson was sentenced to prison for six years and eight months and sent back to San Mateo County. Hutchinson was also charged in a jailhouse attack after his arrest on correctional officers providing security for a maintenance worker in his cell. Those charges will not be a part of the murder trial.
Defense attorney Jim Thompson did not present an opening statement yesterday, instead waiting until after the prosecution rests.
If convicted, Hutchinson faces life in prison without parole. Prosecutors opted against the death penalty in part because of his relative lack of serious criminal history and questions about his mental fitness.
In April 2011, Hutchinson was committed to a hospital after being found mentally unfit but doctors there found him competent and returned him last year to San Mateo County for prosecution. Hutchinson’s competency was questioned in Yolo County and also in previous San Mateo County cases. In one incident, approximately a year before Korn’s beating, Hutchinson reportedly yelled epithets and spit at one of two women standing with their young children at the Hillsdale Caltrain station in San Mateo. In pretrial motions, however, Thompson indicated he would not be mounting a psychiatric defense.
Hutchinson remains in custody without bail. The prosecution will continue its case today.
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