ST. JOSEPH — A jury was seated late Tuesday to hear the case against a Benton Harbor man accused of murdering his long-time girlfriend in January 2018.

William Edwards, 38, is on trial in Berrien County Trial Court Judge Gordon Hosbein’s courtroom on an open murder charge and several lesser charges in the fatal shooting of Novena Mathis, 38.

Berrien Assistant Prosecutor Jane Wainwright and Public Defender Christopher Renna were expected to present their opening statements to the jury this morning. The trial is expected to last several weeks.

Mathis was found dead in her car in the parking lot of the Hayward Wells townhouse complex, and Edwards is alleged to have fatally shot her in the head. At earlier hearings, Renna has said the two had a volatile relationship over the years and Edwards feared for his life when he allegedly shot Mathis.

Besides the open murder charge, which allows the prosecutor to charge first-degree murder or second-degree murder, Edwards is charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter, four counts of felony firearms and carrying a concealed weapon.

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa