Judge will decide today if Allen trial can proceed

A judge is set to decide today whether to delay the capital murder trial of a Stockton man accused of killing a California Highway Patrol officer near Salida in 2006.

The trial for Columbus Allen Jr. II has been delayed four times since it was first scheduled for March 2008.

The case was moved from Modesto to Sacramento because of "pervasive publicity." Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette will decide whether to delay the trial, which is scheduled to begin Monday.

Allen, 34, of Stockton, is charged with killing CHP officer Earl Scott about 4:40 a.m. Feb. 17, 2006. The slain officer was found at the edge of northbound Highway 99, just south of Hammett Road near Salida, holding registration papers for a Nissan Maxima registered to Allen's wife, Bertera.

The Stanislaus County district attorney's office has charged Allen with first-degree murder and three special circumstances that could lead to the death penalty. He is being held without bail.