Defense attorneys call their first witness in Slager trial

Defense attorneys call their first witness in Slager trial
Williams in court Tuesday. (Source: AP/Pool)
Williams in court Tuesday. (Source: AP/Pool)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The defense called its first witness late Wednesday in the trial of the former police officer charged in the shooting death of a man who fled a North Charleston traffic stop last year.

Former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager is charged with murder after shooting Walter Scott on April 4, 2015.

Slager's defense attorneys called on audio expert David Hallimore to testify, making another witness who has worked to enhance the cell phone video of the shooting that a bystander recorded.

Hallimore also enhanced the audio from Slager's microphone but said it is difficult to make out some of what was said because Slager was chasing Scott.

Earlier Wednesday, crime scene investigator Bill Williams showed jurors the timeline he created based on cell phone and dash cam video as well as police radio calls. Williams said he spent 500 hours creating an animation of the incident.

But before the prosecution rested, Slager's lawyers asked the judge to declare a not guilty verdict outright, saying the prosecution did not prove pre-meditated malice.

Judge Clifton Newman denied that request and said the jury will get a chance to decide if Slager is guilty of murder.

With the jury out of the courtroom for hours Tuesday, attorneys discussed whether crime scene investigator Bill Williams of Georgetown should be allowed to testify. The defense argued Williams, who is largely self-taught, doesn't have the qualifications to testify as an expert. Newman ruled Williams could testify about crime scene re-creation and analysis, but not about Slager's Taser.

Slager told investigators he shot Scott after the man grabbed his Taser in a struggle, causing him to fear for his life.

Prosecutors have worked to prove to the jury that Slager is guilty of murder in the shooting.

The prosecution has called just under 30 people to the stand, including crime scene investigators, SLED agents, a bystander, first responders, and Scott's family members.

Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

The defense team will continue to call their witnesses on Thursday, possibly including North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers, who had been expected to be called as a state witness last week. Driggers is likely to be questioned about the department's practices.

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