Brandon McInerney, 17, will stand trial for the execution-style shooting death of classmate Lawrence King.
The killing happened during class at O.E. Green School in Oxnard in 2008.
Prosecutors later added the hate crime allegation, accusing McInerney of murdering King because he believed the victim was gay.
Pre-trial publicity moved the trial out of Ventura County and into a Chatsworth courtroom.
"I think all parties are ready to get this underway," said Scott Wippert, McInerney's attorney.
Wippert said McInerney was "doing as well as he's expected to do. He's a 17 year old who's standing charges for crimes when he was barely 14, so I can't imagine being in his position at 17."
Attorneys for the prosecution declined to comment.
Wippert said there is no doubt a horrible tragedy happened in 2008, but he does not believe McInerney murdered King, who was 15 years old at the time.
"Regardles of what the jury comes back with, it is not an issue of him going home. The issue is whether he'll receive a life sentence on first or second degree murder or whether he'll receive voluntary manslaughter, which is what we believe actually occurred. It was a crime of passion, so that is our defense."