Washington Heights, NY - Man Accused of Killing Elderly Mensch Stands Trial Again
Washington Heights, NY - William Hill may have intended to rob an 81-year-old man when he got on a Washington Heights apartment building elevator in May 2006, but what he came away with was a murder charge after allegedly killing a beloved member of the neighborhood’s Jewish community.
Hill, who is roughly 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, punched Jacob Gerstle in the face, knocking him to the ground, and then took his wallet and cell phone, (as was reported here on VIN News). Gerstle, who was on blood-thinning medication, was found “lying in a pool of blood on the floor,” and died days later from a brain hemorrhage, prosecutors said during opening arguments of Hill’s murder trial.
“He was a real mensch,” said a long-time friend of Gerstle, who asked not to be identified, outside the court room. “There was no one too low for him to help.”
This is the second time Hill has been tried for murdering Gerstle. The previous trial ended in a hung jury.
The report from CBS 2 in 2006
Video surveillance footage shows Hill entering and leaving 105-115 Bennett Avenue in Washington Heights at the time of the assault and robbery, said Assistant District Attorney David Hammer.
Hill was later recognized by a childhood friend who was required to testify about his friend’s misdoings.
The friend, Brandon Stevens, said he identified Hill’s jacket, outfit and mannerisms in an NYPD security tape that was played on a TV news station.
The worried buddy called Hill to inquire and eventually advised him to turn himself in.
Stevens said police had been “trying to get to [Hill] through me,” by visiting and calling his home frequently.
Gerstle’s widow is expected to testify, along with Hill himself and medical experts.
Relatives and friends from Gerstle’s synagogue, Khal Adath Jeshurun on Bennett Avenue, at the trial Thursday said Gerstle fled Nazi Germany and had been living in New York most of his life.
The trial will resume Monday out of respect for Hill’s Islamic observance of Friday as a day of rest.
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