More than four years after Hayward police Sgt. Scott Lunger was fatally shot as he approached a suspect's vehicle, the trial for the man accused of fatally shooting him finally began on Monday.
Alameda County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for 25-year-old Mark Estrada, who they've charged with murder with three special circumstances for allegedly shooting Lunger, 48, near Myrtle and Lion streets in Hayward at about 3:15 a.m. on July 22, 2015.
Lunger, a 15-year police veteran who lived in Brentwood, was pronounced dead at Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley a short time later.
Estrada and the attorneys in his case met in the courtroom of Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy on Monday morning but Murphy delayed further action in the case until Sept. 30 because he's just starting a trial in an unrelated homicide case.
Murphy also said he's awaiting the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on Friday that might have an impact on Estrada's case, although he didn't specify what issues are involved in that hearing.
Jury selection and hearings on pretrial motions in Estrada's case are expected to be lengthy so opening statements might not be presented until January or later.
Estrada, who has long hair and a goatee, wore glasses and brown-and-white striped jail clothes at his brief hearing on Monday, which was attended by six family members and friends.
Three of Lunger's supporters, including a uniformed Hayward police officer, also attended Estrada's hearing.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office announced its decision to seek the death penalty for Estrada on June 9, 2017, about a month after he was ordered to stand trial.
The decision marks only the second time that District Attorney Nancy O'Malley has sought the death penalty since she took the job as the county's top prosecutor in 2009.
The other time was in the case of Darnell Williams, who in 2016 was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges and sentenced to the death penalty for the deaths of 8-year-old Alaysha Carradine and 22-year-old Anthony Medearis in separate incidents in 2013.
Prosecutors said Lunger was shot after he stopped a white Chevrolet Silverado truck driven by Estrada because it was swerving and almost hit several cars.