In a case that had already become quite controversial before the trial has even started, preliminary hearings started Monday morning for the suspected freeway gang shooting that took the life of two-year-old Jasper Wu.

Even amidst a rash of East Bay freeway shootings in the last few years, one that understandably stood out and enraged the public writ large was the November 2021 I-880 Oakland freeway shooting of two-year-old Jasper Wu. The toddler was shot and killed while riding in his child’s car seat, in what was suspected to be gunfire between rival gangs. That suspicion was bolstered when three suspects were arrested in December 2022, all three of them alleged gang members, while a fourth suspect had already been shot in an unrelated drive-by shooting in November 2022.

The three surviving defendants — Johnny Jackson of Richmond, Ivory Bivins of Vallejo, and Trevor Green of Richmond — all appeared in court Monday morning as preliminary hearings started in Alameda County Superior Court, according to the Bay Area News Group. All three defendants are charged with murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle; and being a felon in possession of a gun, while Bivins and Green also are also currently being charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and criminal street gang conspiracy. The preliminary hearings are expected to last through the week.

There was testimony Monday from California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers who were on the scene responding to Wu’s shooting. Officer Lawrence-Christopher Finley testified that there were “many pedestrians screaming at us, ‘He’s shot! We need help!’“ Finley’s testimony turned heartbreaking when he recounted finding the shot toddler, saying “He was bleeding,” and “He appeared to be conscious.”

CHP Special Investigations detective Brian Phillips testified that he’d found eight bullet casings over about a quarter-mile stretch of northbound I-880, all of which were from a rifle.

And in likely the most significant aspect in Monday’s hearings, Judge Scott Payton ruled that evidence from a separate mall shooting in Concord, which investigators say led to the arrest of these three suspects, could be used in this trial.

But this trial is likely to be anything but normal. Recently elected Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price set off a firestorm of controversy by saying she was “reviewing” the murder charges already filed by her predecessor, which her critics have seized upon saying she might lower the charges or allow the suspect to plea down. No real announcement has been made on that, but Price even bringing the idea up has people already screaming for her recall, less than four months after she was sworn in.

Related: Alameda County DA Says She’s ‘Reviewing’ Murder Charges In Toddler Shooting, Received ‘Racist Messages’ Since [SFist]

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