Jason Colton pleaded not guilty to murder in the Supreme Court but admitted to manslaughter in Ramis Jonuzi’s death in 2017.
Colton would face a possible life sentence if a jury convicts him of murder. He would face up to 20 years in prison if the jury accepts the death was manslaughter.
Prosecutors told the jury that Colton knew his actions were likely to kill or seriously injure Mr Jonuzi.
Mr Jonuzi had been subletting a room in a Melbourne home from Colton, who was also a tenant.
Mr Jonuzi first rented the room for three nights on Airbnb, but agreed to stay another week for $210.
But when the week was up and the rent wasn’t paid, Colton threw Mr Jonuzi against a wall, choked him with his forearm and punched him unconscious, prosecutor Mark Gibson told the jury.
Colton also forced Mr Jonuzi to show that he had less than $10 in his bank account.
Mr Gibson said Colton choked or compressed Mr Jonuzi’s neck to prevent him from breathing.
Colton told police he only wanted to subdue Mr Jonuzi so he would pass out.
The trial continues on Tuesday.