TOMS RIVER - An Ocean County man was sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing his 76-year-old neighbor with a hammer.
Superior Court Judge James Blaney issued the sentence Friday for 57-year-old Alan Bienkowski in the 2013 murder of Anthony Verdicchio. He's also ineligible for parole for 30 years of that sentence.
Bienkowski was found guilty in February. He had nothing to say to the court after his sentence was handed out.
The judge told Bienkowski that he found the crime to be “a senseless homicide that really defies explanation."
During his trial, Bienkowski had testified that he was high on heroin when he broke into Verdicchio's house in Manchester and found the man already dead. Bienkowski acknowledged stealing collectibles, including coins. Part of Bienkowski's alibi was that he was out running errands and snorting heroin that day.
However, the prosecutors said blood evidence linked Bienkowski to the murder.
Bienkowski's sister maintains that her brother didn't kill Verdicchio, and suggests that it was a crime of passion.
"He's 58 years old, and all of a sudden he's going to kill a friend?” asks Bienkowski's sister, Susan Kosker. “The guy had black and blues and bite marks between his thighs. Why would my brother go bite him?"
Kosker says that her bother will file for an appeal.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.