During opening statements, the state told jurors Chris Eggleston, a 16-year-old student at Westover High School, was killed because he fell out of favor with a group known as the "Kindred."
Prosecutors say other members of the group were concerned Eggleston was telling school officials about their actions. They say the leader, Shannon Tyson, ordered his murder.
"She secured Matthew Myers to do the group's dirty work," said prosecutor Calvin Colyer, "to take Chris Eggleston to the woods, tie him up and teach him a lesson. Unfortunately, the lesson he learned that day cost him his life."
Tyson's lawyers told jurors Tyson is an innocent victim, falsely accused of a horrible crime she did not commit.
No one disputes that Eggleston died a horrible death. In testimony Tuesday, medical experts said Eggleston was tied up and strangled in a marshy area behind the high school in June 1997.
Defense attorney Coy Brewer told jurors thatMatthew Myers, who has already pleaded guilty in this case, killed Eggleston because Myers is a disturbed individual. Brewer said Myers may have committed the murder to impress the defendant, because he was obsessed with her.
Brewer said Tyson did not instigate or cause Eggleston's death.
"Shannon Tyson did not tell him to do it, authorize him to do it or encourage him to do it," he said. "Matthew Myers did what he did himself for his own reasons."
Eggleston's mothertook the witness stand Tuesday, and described what Tyson told her the day after the victim's disappearance. She said Tyson told her that Chris said he was going to run away. Four days later, his body was found behind the high school.
"She looked at us right in the eyes and told us that Chris had told her he was running away," she said.
The prosecution and defense kept their statements brief, and testimony began before noon. The trial is expected to last several weeks.