Lawyers: Jury should visit site where cop shot black man
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Attorneys for a white former South Carolina police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist want the jury to visit the scene of the shooting and not be sequestered during the trial.
The requests are among a flurry of motions attorneys for Michael Slager have filed in recent days. Jury selection begins next Monday in Slager’s murder trial.
Slager, who turns 35 next month, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted in the April 2015 death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. Scott was shot in North Charleston as he ran from a traffic stop in an incident captured on a dramatic cellphone video.
Other motions ask that Scott and Slager be referred to only by their names, not by words such as “victim” or “defendant,” and that there be no mention of a $6.5 million civil settlement between the Scott family and the city.
One motion said the jurors should be allowed to visit the scene “in order to fully appreciate what happened on the date of the alleged crime.”
While the court has instructed the clerk’s office to make arrangements to house jurors in hotels during the trial, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman said at a hearing last week he has not made a final decision on sequestering the jury.
Defense attorneys argue jury sequestration would violate Slager’s constitutional right to an impartial jury.
Attorney Andy Savage said sequestration would do nothing to address extensive pretrial publicity in a case reported in local and national news media for 18 months. The motion said jurors can resent being separated from family and friends and “direct this resentment at the defendant, in as much as the defendant is perceived as the reason for their confinement.”
There should be no mention of the $6.5 million settlement between North Charleston and the Scott family because the jury could infer Slager, and not the city, was responsible, another motion said.
Other motions ask Newman to prohibit any testimony about Scott or his family suffering or mentioning that Slager also faces federal charges. The motions say such testimony is irrelevant to deciding a verdict.
Slager goes on trial next year on a charge of violating Scott’s civil rights and other federal charges.
Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.