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5 years later, man scheduled to face murder trial

LAWRENCEVILLE -- After nearly five years and separate proceedings to determine his competency, the suspect in a 2007 beating death in Snellville is scheduled to stand trial this week.

In March, Flavio Garay Pena was declared fit to face a Gwinnett County judge and jury on charges of murder, felony murder and aggravated assault. Those charges stem from the November 2007 fatal beating of 22-year-old David Cruz, whom authorities believe Pena kicked to death during a drunken roadside brawl on Arnold Road near U.S. Highway 29.

Cruz's body was found in a ditch the day after the alleged beating.

Court officials said proceedings in Pena's trial were scheduled to begin Monday.

Pena was originally scheduled to face a murder trial in March 2009, when a judge granted the defense's last-minute request for a psychological evaluation. The original competency trial was scheduled for last November, but was delayed due to a death in a defense attorney's family.

Pena has remained in Gwinnett County Jail since his original arrest on Nov. 4, 2007. Federal immigration authorities have placed a hold on him as well.