REDWOOD CITY -- An 88-year-old Belmont man's fatal brain injury may have been inflicted during an accidental fall and not a violent confrontation with a suspect now on trial in his death, a defense attorney said Wednesday.
Tyler James Hutchinson's lawyer told jurors during closing arguments that Albert Korn may have fallen just before someone broke into his Hallmark Drive home in 2009. Korn had, about six months prior, fallen and injured himself, James Thompson said.
"Don't dismiss it out of hand," he told San Mateo County Superior Court jurors, who began deliberating the murder and burglary charges against Hutchinson on Wednesday afternoon. "I ask you to weigh it and consider it."
The idea that Korn could have hurt himself was anathema to deputy district attorney Morris Maya who, during his arguments, showed jurors a photo of the defendant labeled "Cause of Death: Tyler James Hutchinson."
Korn was found injured in his home the afternoon of June 2, 2009, by his son who assumed he had simply fallen. Medics who rushed to the home quickly realized the man had been severely beaten and called in police, according to the prosecution.
Though initially able to talk, Korn rapidly deteriorated and his family elected to take him off life support June 17, 2009.
Maya said a pile of physical evidence at the crime scene such as DNA and fingerprints as well as sightings by eyewitnesses point directly to Hutchinson, a 25-year-old transient, as the killer. The prosecutor said Hutchinson broke into the home in the middle of the day and attacked Korn after encountering him. Why?
"It didn't matter. The defendant was going to take what he wanted," said Maya. He added Hutchinson got away with the victim's wallet, his Jaguar car and some jewelry.
Thompson countered by urging the jurors to not succumb to the "prejudice and outrage" he claimed were inspired by Maya's attacks on his client.
"You were told Mr. Hutchinson was a savage. He's not entitled to a semblance of humanity," Thompson said. "A jury trial isn't simply about attacking a defendant."
His urging of the panel to be skeptical and the theory on Korn's death were the most developed defenses he'd put forward in the trial. Thompson made no opening statement and rested the defense case without calling a single witness.
Maya by contrast called more than a dozen witnesses to the stand, including doctors, firefighters, police and even Korn's family. His wife Gabriele Korn was in court Wednesday, but has declined to comment on the trial.
Prosecutors said Hutchinson sped off in Korn's Jaguar but left it parked -- also leaving his fingerprints behind -- in Belmont, before surfacing in Yolo County. Once there, authorities say he went on a burglary spree that led to his arrest days after the Korn attack and later to convictions for burglaries in West Sacramento.
Korn's death represented a rare killing in the well-to-do suburban community. It was the only homicide there since 2003.
Hutchinson is being held without bail. Deliberations are expected to continue Thursday.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.