Prosecutors on Wednesday charged a Chicago man with invading the Albany Park home of a married couple, ages 93 and 95, early on New Year’s Day 2019. Investigators recently wrapped up the case after DNA lab test results linked 34-year-old Alex Gerstein to the crime scene, according to allegations made in bond court.
The alleged incident began around 4:15 a.m. as the elderly couple’s son dropped them off at their home in the 5000 block of North Harding following a New Year’s Eve party.
According to the son, he was helping his 95-year-old mother, who uses a walker, out of his car when Gerstein grabbed him by the collar and asked, “Am I a punk?”
The son, who thought Gerstein had been drinking, wished him a happy new year and suggested that he find his way home, prosecutors said.
After the couple was safely inside, their son drove away.
Before long, the nonagenarian night owls heard someone kicking in their front door. The husband grabbed a knife from the kitchen and hid in a nearby bathroom. His wife remained in the living room as the home invader — Gerstein, allegedly — barged into their bedroom.
The husband confronted him when he came back out. The two men wrestled as the woman ran out the back door screaming for help, prosecutors said. Gerstein allegedly threw the elderly man to the floor. Then, the husband stabbed the intruder’s arm and hands.
Prosecutors said Gerstein “bled considerably” and ran out the door.
Police who were patrolling the area crossed paths with Gerstein on a nearby street about 15 minutes later. He was bleeding from his hands, but cops had not heard about the home invasion, and they accepted Gerstein’s explanation that he cut himself while jumping a fence, prosecutors said.
Evidence technicians gathered blood samples from the couple’s home, and the Illinois State Police crime lab recently concluded that the samples match Gerstein’s blood, an assistant state’s attorney said in bond court.
Prosecutors charged Gerstein with home invasion causing bodily injury. In 2011, he was convicted of identity theft of a victim over age 60, prosecutors said.
Gerstein’s private attorney, Sergei Kuchinski, said he works as a truck driver and landscape photographer.
After hearing from Kuchinski and prosecutors, Judge Mary Marubio said, “There’s a randomness to it that makes me concerned about whether or not I can fashion sufficient conditions of bond to protect people in the community.”
But, after noting that Kuchinski had not been arrested since the alleged incident nearly two years ago, Marubio set bail at $50,000. She ordered Gerstein to observe a curfew and wear a monitoring device if he can post the $5,000 deposit bond.
Prosecutors said the elderly man who was involved in the alleged incident has since died from unrelated causes.