Artur Waszkiewicz is alleged to have knocked Zofija Kaczan to the floor, robbed her green handbag and left her to bleed in the middle of the road as she made her way to church on May 28 last year.
Polish-born widow Ms Kaczan suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured neck and cheekbone, before her condition deteriorated.
She died from pneumonia in hospital on June 6 - a condition which would only have been brought on by the injuries sustained in the attack, the court was told.
Derby Crown Court was told Waszkiewicz had been driving around quiet residential streets in a Seat Leon car insured in his father's name, and had slowed down as soon as he saw the easy target.
The defendant's fingerprint had been found on a receipt from Ms Kaczan's handbag and no money was present when it was recovered, the court heard.
A jury panel of seven men and five women was told the 40-year-old was so desperate for money that he had tried to sell his dog to neighbours before the incident.
The prosecution said the force used in the attack was so great that the green handle on the victim's handbag was ripped off.
Ms Kaczan, who was held in a Nazi camp during the Second World War, told police she was attacked from behind, at 8.45am, close to the junction of St Chads Road and Empress Road in Normanton, Derby.
The prosecution alleges that after the incident, the defendant changed his appearance and the insurance details of the car he was driving to distance himself from the attack.
Opening the case against Waszkiewicz on Monday, Kate Brunner QC said: "She was attacked, she was thrown to the ground and her handbag was snatched from her.
"The prosecution say it was this man in the dock who robbed her and whose actions led to her death.
"She was small, on her own, vulnerable - an easy target for a man desperate for money."
The court was told Waszkiewicz was questioned by police at his father's address in Shepherd's Bush, west London, where he admitted he had been driving the car on the day of the attack.
Ms Brunner said the defendant was caught on CCTV disposing of the handbag in a well-known fly-tipping area.
She continued: "He attacked Ms Kaczan, yanking her handbag from her and leaving her injured in the road and driving off.
"The handbag was later found by street cleaners.
"What the prosecution say is this man took the money from the handbag and it was then of no use to him.
"It will be no surprise to you that no cash was found in the handbag."
Describing what could be seen on CCTV in the moments leading up to the incident, Ms Brunner said: "Part of what happened was caught on a reflection in a car window which was then recorded on a CCTV camera.
"A tall shape moved from the driver's side of the car to the pavement.
"The prosecution say that shape was this defendant."
Speaking of the days after the attack, Ms Brunner said: "Because of the changes to the car and to his appearance, you may wonder whether the defendant was panicking and had tried to distance himself from what happened.
"There's no dispute that this woman was robbed by somebody."
Concluding her opening, Ms Brunner said: "It must have been the robbery which caused the end of this 100-year-old life."
Waszkiewicz, of Hilary Road in Shepherd's Bush, west London, denies manslaughter and robbery.
The trial continues.
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