Opening statements in a five-year-old case involving the murder of a woman who was scheduled to testify as a prosecution witness in an upcoming trial is finally scheduled to begin in Thursday with opening statements.

The trial centers on two men who prosecutors say ordered the murder of a District woman who was scheduled to testify against one of the men in an upcoming drug trial.

The case is one of the few in the District that turns on witness intimidation. Prosecutors say Willie Walker Jr. and Ricky I. Donaldson ordered the death of Delois Persha, 44, via jailhouse letters. Both men are charged with more than 80 counts including first-degree murder and assault with intent to kill.

Walker was in jail at the time of Persha’s death and according to prosecutors, he wrote to Donaldson to order her death. Prosecutors said the two men used sexual references in letters that were a code for shooting her.

Attorneys for the men have maintained that their clients had nothing to do with Persha’s death.

Prosecutors and attorneys in Judge John Ramsey Johnson’s courtroom spent more than a week selecting and interviewing prospective jurors.

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