Slager state trial hearing ends with no rulings
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — A hearing in the state case against former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager ended with no rulings Tuesday.
Among motions to hash out in the hearing was a motion being considered to drop the murder charge against Slager. The case for the motion was an argument around double jeopardy, given he was already in a state court on the same charges and a mistrial was declared.
While Slager's team of attorneys argue a retrial would violate the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson counters that a mistrial is "the equivalent of no trial and leaves the cause pending the circuit court." The solicitor mentions several cases that ended in a mistrial in making her argument.
Judge Clifton Newman didn't make a ruling on that motion or a motion officially ruling Slager indigent.
Slager has petitioned a court for a public defender in February. Slager argued he has no income and relies on family financial assistance to survive.
Public Defender Ashley Pennington also asked the court for permission to use Slager's previous attorney as a consultant. Pennington said Andy Savage's fees could come from the Office of Indigent Defense.
"I'm not going to do the solicitor's bidding," Savage said during the hearing. "I'm not going to take up the cost that she is causing the taxpayers of Charleston by these multiple prosecutions on a charge that she doesn't believe in."
In an emailed statement, Solicitor Wilson said her office remains committed to seeking justice, and she trusts the community through a fair and impartial jury will render a true verdict.
The attorneys for the family of Walter Scott released this statement in response to Savage's comment:
It’s interesting that attorney Savage, who is apparently tired of defending Mr. Slager and is requesting the public defender to finish what he started, is questioning the prosecutor’s belief in the case. We think taking a backseat to the public defender shows that Mr. Savage doesn’t think lightning will strike twice and they were lucky to escape a murder conviction. It’s easy for Mr. Savage to publicly abuse prosecutors who cannot comment publicly due to ethical restraints. The people of Charleston – no matter the color – aren’t interested in mind games, only justice.
The hearing ended with rulings expected from the judge at a later date.
Slager has a federal court hearing scheduled for March 17 on civil rights charges.
The former officer is charged in the shooting death of Walter Scott. The case became highly publicized last year as video surfaced showing the shooting of who prosecutors and law enforcement officials have argued was an unarmed man.