Ezavia Allen is the first of three men charged with the April 2005 slaying of 63-year-old Shirley Newkirk to go on trial.
The trial began Monday with sharply differing pictures of what led to the shooting.
Assistant Wake County District Attorney Adam Moyers told jurors in his opening argument that Newkirk was getting ready to meet a friend for a morning walk in southeast Raleigh when she was shot through her car window from less than 5 feet away. She managed to crawl into her house, but never reached her husband for help, he said.
"She bled to death in the hallway of the home that she lived in for 25 years," Moyers said.
Allen is a high school dropout who grew up in an environment of drugs, alcohol and prostitution, and he suffers from anti-social personality disorder, defense attorney Mike Klinkosum said in his opening argument.
Klinkosum said the shooting wasn't premeditated, and Allen admitted in court last month to shooting Newkirk in hopes of avoiding a conviction on a first-degree murder charge, which could lead to a death sentence.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Allen could get no more than 40 years in prison.
"He came clean about everything he had done and told them, 'Yes, I was the one that fired the gun that killed Shirley Newkirk. I didn't mean to kill her. I meant to shoot ahead of her. I meant to shoot at the rear view mirror,'" Klinkosum said. "It was an impulsive act that, when she blew the horn, he jumped, ratcheted the gun and turned and fired."
Prosecutors said Allen and two friends -- Marvin Johnson and Cameron Morris -- were involved in a three-week crime spree that culminated in Newkirk's shooting.
Several people testified Monday that they were robbed at gunpoint by three men in red bandanas in the days and weeks before Newkirk's slaying.
"I had a gun barrel in my face. I was afraid for my life," robbery victim Lance Gittens said.
Johnson and Morris also have been charged with first-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors said Johnson might testify in Allen's trial. Neither Morris nor Johnson have ben tried.