TOMS RIVER - The trial of a Manchester man accused of killing his 76-year-old neighbor with a hammer began Wednesday.
Ocean County prosecutors say that Alan Bienkowski struck his neighbor Anthony Verdicchio in the head 14 times with a hammer in 2013. They say that Bienkowski then stole the victims’ rare coins, baseball cards and other collectibles.
The items were found in a storage unit that Bienkowski allegedly rented the same day Verdicchio was found dead inside his trailer home at the Pine Acres Manor community.
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During Wednesday’s testimony, prosecutors claimed that a partial, bloody shoeprint matching sneakers that supposedly belonged to Bienkowski was found at the scene. Jurors were told that they will eventually see those sneakers.
Bienkowski’s defense team repeatedly asked first responders who testified if they disrupted the crime scene in any way, referring to the bloody shoeprint.
The defense says that none of Bienkowski’s fingerprints or DNA were found at the crime scene.
Defense attorney Michael Schreiber also says that he was told that the medical examiner had doubts the murder was linked to a robbery.
"Due to the ferocity of the attack, Dr. Perez had concerns that this could be a crime of passion,” Schreiber says.
The hammer believed to have been used in the murder was never found.
Bienkowski also has an unrelated murder charge pending against him in Monmouth County.