There's still nearly a month before the suspect in a Fishersville murder case goes to trial, but the court battle is already heating up.
The defense says jury members should not be allowed to hear from the murder victim and they want a second opinion on his cause of death.
In the week after he was repeatedly shot outside the Skyline Motel, 48-year-old Melvin Jordan met twice with Augusta County investigators in his intensive care unit at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Court documents say he picked 23-year-old Jerad Michael Ross out of a lineup, saying "that's him right there." He told deputies that Ross pulled a gun and fired just after a scuffle, over an alleged debt to Ross's girlfriend.
Jordan suffered wounds to the stomach, back and legs and his family helped him through multiple surgeries and extensive rehab. He finally died of what a state medical examiner called a pulmonary embolism that was a direct result of the shooting.
The defense wants Jordan's statements barred from the trial as hearsay, partly because he cannot be cross-examined. But the prosecution claims that his words were a "dying declaration," even though Jordan's actual death came six months later.
The defense is asking the court to help pay for another look at the autopsy through a medical examiner of its own. Ross's attorney, John Hill, says denying the request would result in a "fundamentally unfair trial."
Ross was arrested just hours after the May 2012 shooting and the charge against him upgraded to first-degree murder soon after. He will face a trial by jury beginning April 10.
The Augusta County judge is considering the arguments from both sides and will issue a written ruling on both defense motions in the coming days.