CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Federal prosecutors say jurors who will hear the case of the former North Charleston police officer charged in the shooting death of a motorist should be chosen from Charleston and Berkeley Counties.
The defense team of Michael Slager previously filed a motion requesting jurors be selected from across the state.
Slager is charged in the April 4, 2015, shooting death of Walter Scott, who fled a traffic stop in North Charleston. Slager maintained he and Scott ended up in a scuffle during which Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun and used it on Slager, forcing Slager to fire at Scott. Slager is charged with violating Scott's rights under the color of law, lying to investigators and using a firearm in a violent crime.
In a response to that motion filed Tuesday, prosecutors say there has been no showing of "good cause" to expand the jury selection process to the entire district of South Carolina.
U.S. Attorney Beth Drake also argued there are sufficient safeguards in place to select an impartial jury from the Charleston and Beaufort County area.
"Absent evidence that a jury drawn from the Charleston and Beaufort area would deny Defendant a fair and impartial jury, the Court should dismiss Defendant's motion," the response states.
In addition, prosecutors stated financial concerns about the travel time and cost to the court of pulling jurors from across the state was the very reason the state was divided into smaller areas from which jurors could be selected.
"For example, if a district-wide juror was selected from Pickens County to serve in the instant action in Charleston County, that juror would need to endure an eight-hour round trip each day of trial or be provided with lodging, in both instances generating additional court costs," the response states. "These costs are unnecessary given Defendant's failure to demonstrate good cause."
Slager could face up to life in prison if convicted on the civil rights count.
On Dec. 5, a state trial against Slager on a murder charge ended in a mistrial when jurors could not come to agreement on a verdict of either murder, voluntary manslaughter, or not guilty by reason of self-defense.
A retrial in state court is scheduled to begin on March 1.
Deputies were expected to begin delivering summonses and questionnaires to potential jurors on Wednesday for the state retrial, according to a court order issued on Jan. 6. In that order, Judge Clifton Newman said 600 people would then be split into two pools from which a jury will eventually be selected by attorneys. Prospective jurors will have five days to complete and return the questionnaires.