Brandyn Preston was not a member of a gang, but he may have been killed as part of an ongoing feud between gangs.
Derrick McElroy is facing a first-degree murder charge in connection with Preston's death.
Preston was shot in the neck at a bonfire party on May 8, 2011. He was paralyzed from the neck down.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Derrick McElroy, on trial for the shooting death of Brandyn Preston, 19, of Fort Dodge, listens as assistant Iowa attorney general Doug Hammerand, right, looks at a monitor during the opening morning of testimony in Webster County District Court Wednesday. McElroy is charged with first-degree murder.
After being released from the hospital, Preston moved to Tampa, Fla., with his mother, where he died in January 2012 from injuries he sustained in the shooting.
In opening statements, defense attorney Charles Kenville argued that the state has the wrong suspect and that someone else committed the shooting that led to Preston's death.
Kimberly Wood, Preston's mother, described her 6 foot, 7 inch son as a basketball standout who had hoped to play at Iowa Central Community College.
She described her son as "silly, obnoxious at times, fun-loving and gracious."
Wood cried on the witness stand as she described how her son became a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair and able to move only his head. She also described how she found him dead one morning in their Tampa home as a result of being shot.
Testimony will continue this afternoon at 1:15 p.m.