Ward, who pleaded not guilty, was indicted Oct. 5, 2010, on a charge of depraved-heart murder, which is a murder charge compounded by allegations of such callous disregard for safety that someone dies.
Last fall, his attorney, Victor Fleitas of Tupelo, asked the court to move the trial out of Lee County, claiming that unfair pretrial publicity hurt his client's chance for a fair trial.
Circuit Judge James L. Roberts Jr. told him, after a nearly day-long hearing, that the trial will begin in Tupelo with a Lee County jury pool.
But, Roberts said, if it appears that Ward cannot get a fair trial - to be judged by fair-minded jurors - he will consider changes.
Twenty-year-old McCoy, a soccer player at Itawamba Community College, died April 15, 2010, in Ward's Saltillo home from a gunshot wound.
His trial was re-scheduled at least twice to allow more time for experts to analyze the evidence.
Because there apparently are no other witnesses to McCoy's death, prosecutors reportedly must rely heavily on the forensic evidence in the case.
The trial will be the first murder prosecution in Lee County for new District Attorney Trent Kelly's team, which came into office in January.
Look for updates here at DJournal.com and complete coverage in the NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.