Hamblen County authorities say Jordan Shelton, 16, died in November 2007 after he was disciplined by his foster father, Ken Taylor, 55, who is a former bodybuilder.
Taylor was initially charged with reckless homicide, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison, but Taylor was later indicted on a charge of first-degree murder.
A gag order has been issued in the case, and the trial venue was changed form Morristown to Rogersville because of publicity.
Prosecutors alleged that Taylor caught Shelton smoking and grounded him, at which time the teen attacked his foster father during an argument.
Taylor allegedly grabbed Shelton and choked him to the ground to stop the fight, but when Taylor let the boy loose he was purple.
Paramedics found Shelton unconscious when they arrived. He never regained consciousness and doctors withdrew life support.