Michael Slager, the former North Charleston police officer who will again face murder charges in the shooting death of Walter Scott, is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 23, 2017, for the first preliminary hearing ahead of his retrial.
Ahead of the March 1, 2017 retrial date already set for a jury trial in which the prosecution intends to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Slager’s actions against unarmed motorist Walter Scott in April 2015, while performed in the line of duty, were not that of a justifiable homicide but instead murder, or at the very least, manslaughter, the defense and prosecution will have an opportunity to air any concerns. Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over Slager’s first trial in the closing months of 2016 will preside over the former police officer’s retrial, including the preliminary hearing on January 23.
Slager’s attorneys filed a motion on Tuesday, January 17, to have the new jury selected from a pool of people throughout the state of South Carolina, but the prosecution argued that the defense failed to show “just cause” for their request. Jurors will be chosen from among those who live in Charleston and Berkeley counties. On Wednesday, January 18, Charleston County deputies began handing out summonses to potential jurors. According to a court order issued by Newman on January 6, a total of 600 people will be summoned as prospective jurors.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who headed the Slager’s first trial, promised to re-try the now 35-year-old former law enforcement officer after Judge Newton declared a mistrial because jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on whether Slager’s shooting of Walter Scott as the motorist was running away from him was murder, voluntary manslaughter or not guilty by reason of self-defense. One juror had sent a note to the judge, stating that s/he could not find Michael Slager guilty.
There had been speculation that due to Wilson being the prosecutor in the Dylann Roof trial, any retrial of Slager may have had to be put off until after his federal civil rights trial, but the federal trial that may or may not be held pending the outcome of the state’s criminal trial, is not scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court until May 1, 2017.
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Making Sense of the Mistrial in Shooting Death of Walter Scott