(Editor's Note: This is the continuation of Wednesday's hearing in the case of People vs. Tyler James Hutchinson. We reported earlier that the hearing was delayed due to an injury sustained by one of the defense witnesses on her way into court. The witness was treated and released and returned to court Wednesday afternoon. The hearing resumed at 3:00 p.m.)
Three family members of testified in San Mateo County Superior Court on Wednesday that Hutchinson, the man accused in the murder of 88-year-old Belmont resident Albert Korn, had a troubled youth and possible mental illness.
The purpose of Wednesday's hearing was for conditional examination of several of the defendant’s family members and to set jury trial and pretrial conference dates.
Following several delays throughout the day, the conditional examination wrapped up at 3:00 p.m. and the defense and prosecution will now meet in early May to determine whether or not this will become a death penalty case.
Two of the defendant's family members were flown in to testify, and one, an cousin in Texas gave her testimony via video conference because she was unable to travel due to health issues.
Hutchinson is accused of robbing, burglarizing and beating 88-year-old after breaking into his home on Hallmark Drive on June 2, 2009. Korn died of his injuries on June 17, 2009.
All three--an uncle, an aunt and cousin--testified that Hutchinson was shuffled around to different relatives' homes by his parents during his childhood and teenage years, sometimes being left at the home of an aunt or uncle for a period of time.
Uncle remembers the early days
The defendant's uncle, Herbert Burley of Colorado Springs, Colorado, said that as a child, Hutchinson was a happy, normal kid during the summer they spent together at Burley's Colorado home.
"He had a skateboard--loved that skateboard, and he built a rail for it and I watched him everyday," said Burley.
He added, "I gave him some rules, like a curfew, and he never broke it."
Burley said that Hutchinson's father expressed concern as the boy got older that he was hanging out with older children. "And his father didn't like it."
When asked by defense attorney Richard Keyes how he would feel if Hutchinson received the death penalty, Burley said, 'It would hurt. You never get over that. My son was shot in the face and killed and my father was murdered also. I know the pain."
"I care child"
Dencei Mason, Hutchinson's first cousin testified via video conference from Texas. She said that Hutchinson showed up at her home in Marshall, Texas one day when he was a teenager.
"I looked out my back door and he was just sitting there on his luggage so I invited him in and he stayed a while. He said his daddy (JC Hutchinson) left him there."
Mason said that Hutchinson's father told her he couldn't help his son any longer. She noticed Hutchinson's feet were swollen and red and from gout. She went on to talk about odd and aggressive behaviors he exhibited while living with her.
"He was fidgety and jumpy and would talk to himself all the time and his mom would call he'd say ugly things. He would stay up all night and throw mattresses and furniture around. He never slept in the room I gave him."
"He was a normal kid when he was 5 or 6, but then he changed," added Mason.
"It's sad to say, but I just couldn't help him anymore. I've taken in lots of kids, but he was the toughest."
Mason also said Hutchinson would use marijuana and alcohol while living with her, and his bad behaviors escalated when he was under the influence.
When assistant district attorney asked her on cross examination if she knew if Hutchinson had been in a gang, she said his mother said he was.
She finally asked him to leave and had her son and nephew take him to the bus station, but admitted she felt sorry for him.
"Other kids picked on Tyler--it's natural that he would act out," Mason said.
When asked how she would feel if Hutchinson was executed, Mason became emotional and said, "He's not Tyler. God forgive me, it would hurt because he is my blood."
"Not accepted by his white grandparents"
The day's final witness was Paula Crockett, who testified after being treated at Sequoia Hospital for a knee injury she sustained on the escalator in the courthouse earlier in the day. Crockett was wheeled into the courtroom by a bailiff.
Crockett, 70, is Hutchinson's aunt. She said she didn't hear much about him while he was a small child, but when they were together at her home in Marshall, Texas on Christmas, she said, "He wasn't like all of the other nephews and nieces I have. I had some concern about him from our first meeting."
"I know that child is not normal. He wasn't the same person when he grew up, and that hurt me." She added that Hutchinson's father, JC Hutchinson, would correct his son for being disrespectful to his aunt.
When asked by Giannini if she had ever met the younger Hutchinson's grandparents on his mother's side, she answered, "No I never did. He was not accepted by his white mother's parents," she said.
Crockett became emotional when asked how she would be affected if Hutchinson was executed. "It would affect me real bad. I pray for him."
While being wheeled out of the courtroom she gave Hutchinson's attorney a program from JC Hutchinson's funeral.
"I want Tyler to have this," she said, and asked if she could give Hutchinson a hug and Judge Mark Forcum said he didn't think it would be a good idea.
"I love you baby," she said to Hutchinson as she was wheeled out of the courtroom.
The defense and the prosecution will meet on May 2 to discuss whether or not the death penalty will be pursued in this case.
A pre-trial conference is scheduled for May 11 at 10:30 a.m.
(Editor's note: the following is the earlier story that was reported on Wednesday morning):
A woman who was to serve as a possible defense witness for Tyler Hutchinson, the man accused in the of Belmont resident Albert Korn, suffered an injury on the escalator at San Mateo County Courthouse Wednesday morning and was taken to Sequoia Hospital.
Defense attorney Richard Keyes says the woman, Paula Crockett, who traveled from Texas to for the proceeding, may return to the courthouse Wednesday afternoon pending results of an x-ray. An investigator for the defense team was at the hospital awaiting word on the results.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Mark Forcum agreed to continue the proceedings at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday pending the outcome of Crockett's condition.
The injury caused a commotion in the busy lobby of the courthouse, and because it occurred on the escalator, firefighters and paramedics had to treat the woman on the steps of the halted escalator and move her on to a stretcher.
As paramedics began sliding the woman on the stretcher down the escalator, the escalator somehow began moving prompting the paramedics to shout for it to be shut off and stabilize the stretcher as it moved.
Crockett's testimony was to be part of a conditional examination proceeding, during which witnesses for the defense answer questions from the defense and are subject to cross examination by the San Mateo County assistant district attorney, Al Giannini.
Giannini explained that the purpose of the conditional hearing in a potential capital punishment case is to preserve the testimony of witnesses who are either infirmed or elderly and may not be able to participate in a jury trial, should one occur.
Several defense witnesses from Texas were unable to come to California, so arrangements are made for video conferencing their testimony into the courtroom.
"If and when this becomes a death penalty case, we would have that testimony available by video recording," said Giannini.
The defendant is currently being held at the San Mateo County Jail. He is accused of robbing, burglarizing and beating 88-year-old Albert Korn after breaking into his home on Hallmark Drive on June 2, 2009.
Patch will update this story as the proceedings unfold.
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