It's been more than two years since Lodi business owner Paul Alamo was charged with murder in the shooting death of a neighbor.
Nobody disputes the fact that Alamo and Mark Hasty were both outside a home under construction on Hogan Lane, east of Highway 99. And nobody disputes the fact that Alamo shot Hasty that fall 2003 night.
But a San Joaquin County jury this week will be asked to look at the evidence and solve a dispute between prosecutors and the defense: Whether Alamo acted in self defense because he feared for his life, or whether he shot an unarmed man.
A jury is expected to be seated this week, and lawyers will likely give their opening statements Wednesday. The evidentiary portion of the trial will get underway Thursday.
The case revolves around the events leading up to the night of Oct. 13, 2003.
Alamo was allegedly driving around the area because of recent burglaries, and was at a home under construction when Hasty arrived. The two men got into a confrontation in the driveway, and Alamo ultimately shot Hasty twice. Hasty was pronounced dead when he arrived at Lodi Memorial Hospital.
Alamo maintained that Hasty had a knife and was making threats, but investigators found no knife at the scene.
Alamo was questioned and released, and prosecutors decided a month later to charge him with murder. He remains out of custody on $333,000 bail.
The trial pits defense attorney and one-time prosecutor Ralph Cingcon against Deputy District Attorney Lester Fleming.
Both have been licensed attorneys since fall 1978, and it's not the first time they've been in trial together. In fact, Alamo's trial was postponed at one point because the attorneys already had another trial scheduled.
Presiding over the trial is Judge Bernard J. Garber, who is no stranger to Lodi cases. He recently sentenced three young men to prison for their roles in the shooting death of Lodi High School student Adrian Cortez, and a fourth defendant in that case is scheduled to start trial after Alamo's trial is finished.
Garber also presided over the murder trial of Lodi residents Christopher Jones and Joel Magana, and Magana's subsequent retrial on conspiracy charges. Both are now serving life terms in prison.
And several years ago Garber's courtroom was the scene of Sarah Dutra's murder trial. The highly publicized case centered around the poisoning death of her boss, attorney Lawrence McNabney, and his wife's cross-country flight that ended in her suicide.
A jury ultimately convicted Dutra of manslaughter after a trial that lasted two months.
Alamo's trial could last that long, and prospective jurors have been told they may be needed for 10 weeks.