NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A pretrial hearing for the former North Charleston police officer charged in the fatal shooting of a motorist was held Tuesday.
Michael Slager was charged with murder in the April 4, 2015, death of Walter Scott. Slager's trial is set to begin in less than three weeks.
On Tuesday afternoon, Slager's attorneys were trying to limit the viewing of a video captured of the shooting, from being shown during the trial.
Slager's attorney has concerns for how the state would use the video during the trial.
He believes it can be used to show different images to the jury based on how attorneys play the video.
"If the video is going to be shown it should be done a certain way," said Andrew Savage, Slager's attorney. "First we need the authenticity to be addressed. We also want the video shown in real time, and not slowed down."
Savage said changing the speed of the video doesn't give the jury an accurate account of what happened.
The state says this piece of evidence is a large portion of their case against Slager.
"We will be discussing it in opening [arguments] and if it later became deemed inadmissible, then I'll have to deal with that later in the court," said Solicitor Scarlett Wilson. "But to limit my ability to discuss that in opening is to limit a reliant share of the state's evidence."
A judge will make a motion on the issue at a suppression motion hearing October 21 at 10 a.m. This hearing will look at the different motions filed by the state and defense on what evidence should or should not be admitted. Motions are to be filed by October 13 at 12 p.m.
State Motions filed
Four motions by the state were being also being considered Tuesday.
One would prevent the defense team from asking witnesses from making comments about Slager's guilt or innocence or his state of mind at the time of the shooting.
A second would prevent attorneys or witnesses from making any comments about Scott's character (ie: drug usage, arrests).
A third motion would prevent the defense, attorneys or witnesses from making comments about any penalty or punishment Slager faces.
A final motion, approved by the judge, required the defense to send the state the identities of their expert witnesses along with reports of examinations and tests they performed, on or before October 31.
Assistant Solicitor Chad Simpson said the state has disclosed 30,000 pages to the defense, including expert testimony, and they haven't "received one bit of a list from them".
Defense motions filed
Three motions filed recently were also considered Tuesday.
One would ask the state to present all records and information about witness(es) history and incentives for those being called to testify. Savage specifically cited one of the state's key witnesses, the man who shot the cell phone video, throughout this motion.
A second motion asked for a more descriptive list to be put together regarding witnesses. The defense would require the witness to list their name, nickname (if applicable), residence, employer, age, social media name and show a photo id. Savage said this is a way to determine if any potential juror may have a relationship with a witness that may impact the juror's ability to be fair and impartial, besides just looking at a name.
A third motion requests the jury not be sequestered during the trial. Slager's attorney said there's no amount of information that the general public doesn't already know. The judge took this motion under advisement.
Additionally, Slager's attorney brought up previous motions during Tuesday's hearing.
The defense requested the contact information of the man who captured the cell phone video of the shooting last year. The state said they have been in contact with the man's attorney about the defense's request to talk to the witness. Savage said they haven't heard back from the attorney after numerous attempts to contact. The judge said he would make a decision on what to do if the witness's attorney does not contact the defense by October 31.
Another previous motion requested the state to compel disclosure of information, citing police field-interviews after the crime, found on another news media site. Additionally, the defense requests the rap sheets of the potential jurors. Savage said his team should have the same opportunities as the state. The judge took this motion under advisement.
The judge granted a motion to prevent Slager's "bad acts" from being presented during trial.
The defense team also looks to suppress statements from April 2015 given by Slager. These statements depict his account of what happened the day of the shooting. According to Savage, one of those statements has "serious constitutional issues", specifically surrounding Miranda rights. The issue will be taken up at a later date.