TOMS RIVER - The Manchester man accused of killing his 76-year-old neighbor with a hammer took the stand Wednesday morning.
Alan Bienkowski told jurors that he was at the crime scene and saw Anthony Verdicchio’s body, but that he did not kill him.
“I see Tony laying there. I didn't know what to do,” he said. “I'm high on dope at the time. I don't know what to do. I'm thinking, should I call 911?"
Both men lived in the Pines Acres Manor trailer community. Bienkowski said that he saw the front door open to Verdicchio’s home and found him dead inside.
"He was cold to the touch. His eyes were open. His mouth was open,” Bienkowski testified.
Prosecutors allege that Bienkowski struck his neighbor at least 14 times with a hammer so that he could steal coins, baseball cards and other collectibles for drug money.
A partial print from Bienkowski's sneakers was found near the body. Those sneakers were later found at Bienkowski's home with the victim's blood on them. Bienkowski testified that he should have called police but panicked and also made the bad decision to steal from the victim.
“I'm thinking to myself if I call the police, I'm high on drugs, I have priors. I probably look like hell from doing a couple bags that morning,” he said.
The hammer believed to have been used in the murder was never found.
Closing arguments were given by both sides following the defendant's testimony. The jury will be charged Thursday.
If convicted, Bienkowski faces a minimum of 30 years in prison.