BURKE, S.D. -

A murder trial began Wednesday for a former Harrisburg police chief accused of shooting and killing his fiancée in 2009.

Russell Bertram was indicted on first degree murder charges September 2015.

His jury trial is being held in Gregory County, where the shooting took place.

The state argues that Bertram shot and killed his 26-year-old fiancée, Leonila Stickney while on a hunting trip in order to receive a nearly $900,000 dollar payout from her life insurance policy.

The state told the jury that it was on that hunting trip Bertram learned his fiancée was “late” and possibly pregnant.

They say Stickney did not know that Bertram had a vasectomy years before the two met.

The defense also argues that Stickney was the one who wanted the life insurance policies to be able to send money to her family back in the Philippines if anything were to happen to her.

The defense told the jury that the shooting was accidental.

They argue that Bertram thought the safety on his Remington shotgun was on, and when he was loading it back into his truck the barrel was “tugged on or grabbed” and the gun discharged striking, and killing Stickney.

The trial is scheduled to continue for the next three weeks in Gregory County.

If convicted on the first degree murder charge, Bertram faces a sentence of mandatory life in prison or the death penalty.