Defense, Prosecution Argue Motions in Michael Slager Pretrial Hearing

A pretrial hearing for the upcoming federal trial of Michael Slager that began on Friday, April 21, 2017, is set to resume on Monday, April 24, 2017, at 1:30 p.m. EST ahead of jury selection scheduled to begin May 1, 2017. Slager, 35, faces charges of violating Walter Scott’s civil rights, lying to investigators and using a firearm in a violent crime for the shooting death that occurred in April 2015.

Defense Argues Against Admission of Slager’s Inaccurate Incident Accounts During Trial

The focus of the April 21, 2017, hearing were allegations by Michael Slager’s previous and current defense attorneys that State Law Enforcement Division Officer Angela Peterson lied to Slager and then-defense attorney, David Aylor, during questioning three days after the shooting death incident April 4, 2015.

The defense contends that Peterson did not mislead him about the presence of a witness and subsequent video of the incident, as SLED has labeled Peterson’s statement, but a lie when Aylor directly asked Peterson if there were any known witnesses to or video footage of the incident, or autopsy results on Walter Scott. SLED officials did have knowledge of the existence of video footage taken by eyewitness Feidin Santana at the time of Slager’s interview, as well as Walter Scott’s autopsy results, something else asked for by Aylor prior to Slager’s interview on April 7, 2015.

The Slager defense contends that the outright lie from SLED officers to Aylor affected the advice the attorney gave his client either about participating in the interview or how he answered SLED questions. For that reason, the defense contends Slager’s statements to SLED officers that day, proven to be an inaccurate account of the April 4 incident, should not be able to be used against him.

Did Eyewitness Lie to Defense About Travel Expenses Paid by Prosecution?

Another issue before the court is the defense’s assertion that the April 4, 2015, eyewitness, Feidin Santana, lied under oath about his travel expenses paid by the prosecution for his return from the Dominican Republic to testify in the state’s trial of Slager that ended in a mistrial in December 2016.

When prosecutor Scarlett Wilson was called to testify on Friday about the matter, she explained that Santana had paid for his own ticket back to the United States and was later reimbursed by the state, as well as receiving lodging paid for by the prosecution and a per-diem payment while the trial was ongoing. Wilson expressed confidence that the court would throw the motion out once Sandana was called to testify on the matter.

Additional motions filed by the defense included an argument that double jeopardy was being applied to Michael Slager in that he faced both federal and state trials for the same incident. Judge David Norton denied that motion, explaining that decades of precedence existed that double jeopardy does not apply just because two different jurisdictions filed charges based on the same incident.

A motion by the former North Charleston, South Carolina police officer’s defense attorney, Andy Savage, to exclude a video of the April 2015 incident that shows the on-duty officer shooting at Walter Scott as the unarmed man ran from him, was ruled on in earlier pretrial hearings and will be allowed by the court to be shown to the jury.

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