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Opening statements begin in the murder trial of man accused of killing SDPD officer

Jesse Michael Gomez, 60, is charged with murder and attempted murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer.

SAN DIEGO — Opening statements are scheduled Tuesday in the murder trial of a man accused of gunning down a San Diego police officer more than five years ago.

Jesse Michael Gomez, 60, is charged with murder and attempted murder, plus a special circumstance allegation of murder of a police officer, for allegedly shooting Officer Jonathan "J.D." De Guzman, 43, and fellow gang- unit Officer Wade Irwin in the Southcrest neighborhood on the night of July 28, 2016.

De Guzman, a 16-year veteran of the San Diego Police Department, died at a hospital, while Irwin was shot in the neck and hospitalized for nearly a month.

Gomez, who remains held without bail, could face the death penalty if convicted of the murder count and special circumstance allegation. His trial is expected to last as long as two months.

At the defendant's preliminary hearing in 2019, Irwin testified that as he and De Guzman were patrolling the area, they saw two men split up and start walking along the north and south sidewalks of Acacia Grove Way. Irwin said he believed the man on the south side was someone else he had previously arrested. De Guzman stopped the car and Irwin got out of the passenger side, leaving the door open, he said.

Irwin testified that he asked the man if he lived near the area and was shot "almost immediately." He testified the gunman then approached the open passenger door of the patrol car and fired into the vehicle, where De Guzman was sitting.

After De Guzman was shot, Irwin said he drew his gun and fired on the shooter, who was running eastbound.

Gomez was taken into custody in a ravine off South 38th Street, a short distance from the scene, and was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to his upper body.

In court Tuesday, prosecutors showed footage captured on the body worn camera of an officer who responded to the scene.

The video shows fellow officers trying to save De Guzman's life.  

It also shows them driving him to the hospital in a patrol car.

The officer whose camera captured the video broke down on the stand after the video was played.

WATCH: Jury selection to begin in trial of man accused in SDPD officer's killing