A jury heard conflicting accounts yesterday of the shooting death of a motorist on a North Arlington street on a summer night in 1984.

The prosecution contended in opening arguments that it was a deliberate act on the part of Ricky Nesbitt, 25, who is on trial in Arlington Circuit Court on a first-degree murder charge in the death of John P. Green, 39. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Liam O'Grady said Nesbitt, driving a sedan, chased Green's pickup truck until he found a "nice location" on S. 10th Street to shoot him.

Nesbitt's attorney, R. Ramsey Maupin, argued that Nesbitt acted in self defense after Green tried to run Nesbitt's car off the road.

The shooting occurred at 11 p.m. July 27, 1984, and became known as the "green Volvo case" because witnesses said the shots were fired from such a car. An informant's tip that Nesbitt, who lives at 5353 Taney Ave., Alexandria, had painted his green Volvo black shortly after the shooting led to his arrest.

O'Grady said Nesbitt and Green, who lived at 1501 N. Pierce St., Arlington, encountered each other on the 14th Street bridge and that the two had a minor argument and possibly a minor traffic accident there.

O'Grady said Nesbitt followed Green's truck along the George Washington Memorial Parkway to Rte. 50 and finally to N. 10th Street, where Nesbitt fired six shots in Green's direction. Green died hours later at Arlington Hospital of wounds to the head and chest.

Defense attorney Maupin said the shooting was in self-defense, and that he, with Nesbitt acting as co-counsel in his own behalf, would prove that Green twice deliberately rammed Nesbitt's car.

He said Green refused to pull over to discuss the accident and, instead, rolled down his truck window and began cursing and acting irrationally. "The evidence will show that this man [Nesbitt] was scared because John P. Green was trying to run him off the road," Maupin said.

Rita Hemphill, sister of Nesbitt's girlfriend Pam, who was allegedly with him that evening, testified for the prosecution that Nesbitt called her shortly after he was jailed with a message for Pam. She said Nesbitt told her to tell Pam to say "it was self-defense."