The trial for the Stockton man charged in the 2006 shooting death of a highway patrolman has been set for September, a Stanislaus County judge ruled Monday.
The district attorney's office has charged Columbus Allen Jr. II, 33, with first- degree murder and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty.
Allen is suspected of killing California Highway Patrol officer Earl Scott during an early morning traffic stop Feb. 17, 2006, on northbound Highway 99, just south of Hammett Road near Salida. Scott was gripping registration papers for a Nissan Maxima in the name of Allen's wife, Bertera, when emergency workers found him.
Allen's trial is set to begin Sept. 1 and could last up to eight weeks, said Carol Shipley, assistant district attorney.
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Two defense motions are scheduled to be heard in the coming months.
On Feb. 24, attorneys will argue whether statements Allen gave to authorities before he was arrested should be admissible in court.
On March 24, the judge will hear motions about whether the case should remain in Stanislaus County.
Trial-related motions are scheduled to take place in the second half of August, Shipley said.
Attorney John R. Grele of San Francisco will lead Allen's defense.
Until recently, Allen had been represented by another attorney, Ramon Magaña of Modesto. In October, Allen persuaded a judge to release Magaña, who led Allen's defense for two years.
Magaña has said a breakdown in communications led to his departure, but would not disclose the nature of that conflict.
Monday, Martin Sabelli of San Francisco, a second defense attorney, was appointed to provide support in Allen's defense, Shipley said.
The American Bar Association recommends defendants in capital cases have at least two lawyers because of the complexity of the cases.
Allen is being held without bail in Stanislaus County Jail.
The Feb. 24 hearing will be Allen's next court appearance.
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2235.