A man authorities said may be one of the United States' most prolific child molesters was arrested last May after they found journals in his home believed to detail the abuse of hundreds of young boys.

Now, more than a year after Dean Schwartzmiller was arrested for allegedly abusing two 12-year-old cousins, his trial is set to begin in a Santa Clara County courtroom.

Schwartzmiller, 64, has pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of child molestation and child pornography in connection with the boys, whom he befriended in December 2002. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday in a trial that could last more than a month. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

When Schwartzmiller was arrested last May, San Jose police found notebooks containing 36,700 entries, with codes for each boy's anatomy and personality. It is unclear how many actual victims are represented — many of the line items are duplications, and police believe some may describe his fantasies. Nonetheless, police believe Schwartzmiller's victims number in the hundreds.

Police said he was also crafting a lengthy memoir about his sexual exploits with boys.

Schwartzmiller recently dismissed his public defender and will be representing himself. That's often the kiss of death for a defendant, but Schwartzmiller has a track record: he has already gotten at least two of other convictions overturned and was twice set free on appeal.

In 1976, he argued his case before the Idaho Supreme Court and won. He tried again in 1983, arguing "vague" legal definitions of illegal sexual acts. He lost this time, but the justices recommended that the Legislature should clarify the law.

A former defense lawyer, James Kevan, has described Schwartzmiller as wily, charismatic and "smarter than heck."

Another lawyer called Schwartzmiller one of the best jailhouse lawyers in Idaho at the time.

"He was respected because if an inmate needed help in a legal case, he would help them out. If he saw an injustice he would try to help the inmate. He was pretty well-liked out there," Lance Churchill said after Schwartzmiller was arrested in Washington. Authorities believe he fled after his roommate, Fred Everts, was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Everts was convicted in February of 18 counts of child molestation. He faces life in prison at his sentencing Sept. 8. His public defender, Ed Lopez, said Friday that Schwartzmiller has subpoenaed Everts to testify.

"I'm anticipating his defense is going to be that Mr. Everts lied to police, that he's the one who molested these children," Lopez said, adding that another witness for Schwartzmiller is a jail inmate who says Everts told him Schwartzmiller is innocent.

Everts has nothing to lose or gain by testifying at Schwartzmiller's trial, Lopez said.

"Mr. Everts is testifying because he wants the truth to come out. He doesn't want Dean Schwartzmiller to get away with committing these crimes," Lopez said. "In a sense, he's on the DA's side."

Reached late Friday, prosecutor Steve Fein refused to comment, citing a gag order in the case.