Judge considering other charges besides murder in Michael Slager trial

Michael Slager takes the oath before testifying Monday. (Source: Pool/File)
Michael Slager takes the oath before testifying Monday. (Source: Pool/File)
(Source: Pool/File)
(Source: Pool/File)
(Source: Pool/File)
(Source: Pool/File)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The judge in the Michael Slager trial said he will consider other charges besides murder for the jury to consider.

Slager shot and killed Walter Scott in April of last year. Slager claims it was self-defense.

The judge said Tuesday night that he would go over requested charges which includes the defense's requested charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The judge is expected to rule on the charges Wednesday morning as well as whether or not the jury can visit the incident scene.

The defense wrapped its case Tuesday after Slager himself took the stand followed by additional defense witnesses.  Slager teared-up twice on the stand: once, telling the jury he missed the birth of his child from being in jail; the other, while saying how scared he was of Scott.

Closing arguments are slated to begin on Wednesday and when they are complete, the case will go to the jury.

LIVE BLOG: Michael Slager trial

Earlier on Tuesday, a defense witness testified what the former North Charleston police officer charged with murder described is consistent with being under a high level of stress.

Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Yale and the University of New Haven, testified Tuesday at Slager's murder trial in South Carolina.

Morgan testified that high levels of stress can distort perceptions, can make colors seem brighter or vanish altogether and cause blanks in people's memories. Morgan testified  such experiences are perfectly normal in such situations.

Slager takes stand in his own defense

Slager himself took the stand Tuesday morning, testifying the shooting destroyed two families, Scott's and his own. Slager told authorities he shot at Scott after the man ran from his vehicle and then took hold of the officer's Taser in a struggle on a yellow-paved lot in Charleston Farms, repeatedly called a high-crime area of North Charleston.

Slager testified that he was going to give Scott a warning ticket for a broken taillight when Scott ran from his car. Slager testified that after Scott ran, Slager fired his Taser several times. He said at some point, both of them wound up on the ground.

Slager said he tried to handcuff Scott but couldn't, and that Scott rolled over on his back and used the Taser on Slager.

After Slager called for backup, he said Scott ripped the Taser from his hands. He said both he and Scott stood up and that he saw the barrel of the Taser coming at him.

"And he takes the Tazer out of my hand with such force, it comes out of my hand, and then I see him with the Tazer in his hand and I see him spin it around," Slager said. "That's the only thing I see is that Tazer coming at me, I see that barrel, it's like this big, coming at me and I knew I was in trouble, I knew I had to call backup, I needed back up, I knew I was being overpowered."

Slager said during the struggle he realized Scott was much stronger than he was. Slager, choking back tears, says he felt "total fear" when Scott pointed the weapon at him.

Slager said he tried to get Scott to listen to his commands several times before the struggle and the shooting. Slager said he handcuffed Scott after the shooting because Slager didn't know if he hit Scott or if Scott tripped.

When asked by defense attorney Andy Savage if he planted evidence by dropping the Taser next to Scott's body, Slager said no.

Slager appeared to hold back tears when he told the court his son was born while he was in jail for the shooting. His defense attorneys questioned him about prior foot chases and arrests, noting that Slager had never been reprimanded for use of force before the incident.

Slager testified he has not been the same since the shooting and said his mind was like spaghetti from running and chasing after Scott.

"I was happy April 4th because Easter was the next day and I had off for a few days," Slager said. "Spent time with my family, and... after April 4 it's been a roller coaster can't sleep nightmares. My family has been destroyed by this,  the Scott family has been destroyed by this, it's horrible."

Prosecutors accused Slager of changing his story about the chase. During cross-examination, prosecutors again showed the cellphone video and asked Slager if it didn't show the Taser on the ground just before the shooting. Slager replied that at the time of the shooting he would have said the weapon was not on the ground, but that looking at the video can see that it was.

When asked about the video, Slager says he doesn't remember certain things, because it all happened so quickly.

Before a short break, attorneys representing the state of South Carolina started questioning Slager about his training and experience.

"You won the Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon (Coast Guard), which means you're a pretty good shot," one attorney asked.

"If you say so, yes," Slager said.

Slager called the shooting horrible and says it destroyed his family as well as the family of Walter Scott.

On Monday, Slager's defense team said he would likely be the first witness to take the stand Tuesday morning.

Scott, who was black, was shot five times in the back while running from the white officer. The shooting was captured by a bystander on cellphone video. Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department and charged with murder when the video became public.

Michael Slager faces 30 years to life if convicted.

Copyright 2016 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.