REDWOOD CITY -- Albert Korn, 88, stood in his Belmont driveway and waved goodbye as his son drove off to a hardware store. About an hour later, the elderly man was found beaten so badly he never recovered.
During opening arguments Thursday, a prosecutor pointed to the man he says broke into Korn's home in June 2009 and pummeled his face until it was a swollen bloody mass: 25-year-old Tyler James Hutchinson. Korn died two weeks after the attack when his family took him off life support at Stanford Hospital.
The trial in San Mateo County Superior Court may be the closing chapter in a rare and brutal killing for the affluent bedroom community -- the only homicide there since 2003.
In his comments, deputy district attorney Morris Maya promised jurors a heap of physical evidence -- DNA, blood and fingerprints -- tying Hutchinson to the crime at 2536 Hallmark Drive. He also promised the panel witnesses who would testify they saw the defendant walking in Korn's neighborhood before the killing.
"The defendant Tyler James Hutchinson turned this storybook house into a slaughterhouse," said Maya, after showing jurors photos of Korn's home, blood splattered carpet and Korn's beaten face.
Hutchinson, dressed in a blue button-up shirt and his hair in scruffy braids, has pleaded not guilty to the charges which could put him in prison for life without parole.
Defense attorney James Thompson put off his opening statement until Maya
Maya told jurors that on June 2, 2009, Matthew Korn came at 2:30 p.m. to help his father put up address numbers on the Hallmark Drive home, which had just been re-painted. But, Maya said, the elder Korn thought the numbers they had were too small, so he sent his son to a home improvement store to buy some bigger ones.
That left Korn home alone. His wife, Gabriele Korn, had left around 11:45 a.m. for the Peninsula Jewish Community Center. She was visiting her grandchildren when she got a call that afternoon from her son, Matthew, telling her something was very wrong.
After buying the bigger numbers, Matthew Korn returned to Hallmark Drive to find his father slumped over the kitchen counter. He was injured and bleeding, but the son concluded his father had fallen. The family called for help around 4:10 p.m., and firefighters and paramedics arrived minutes later. Authorities -- who found Korn's blood and some of his teeth in one of the home's rooms -- quickly realized they weren't dealing with a fall.
"This person looked like he went three rounds with Mike Tyson," retired Belmont-San Carlos Fire Captain Art Anderson testified.
Though he could at first say some words, Korn's condition deteriorated quickly. There was bleeding in his brain and despite emergency surgery, he didn't get better. His family elected to take him off life support June 17, 2009. Gabriele Korn was in court Thursday but declined to comment on the trial.
By the time of his death, Hutchinson had already been in police custody for nearly two weeks. Just a few days after the Korn robbery, he was arrested in West Sacramento after a burglary spree, Maya said. Yet the case has languished for years, first because of the Yolo County trial over the burglary cases but later because of questions about Hutchinson's mental competency to stand trial.
He remains behind bars without bail and the trial is expected to continue Friday before San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.