Judge sets new retrial date for former officer charged in motorist's death

Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)
Walter Scott. (Source: Facebook)

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A judge has set a new date for the state retrial for a former North Charleston officer accused of murder.

Judge Clifton Newman set the date for the state retrial of Michael Slager for Aug. 28, but said that date could be moved up if federal prosecutors decide not to try him.

Slager is charged in the April 4, 2015, shooting death of Walter Scott, who ran from a traffic stop.

Slager claims there was a scuffle after he chased him and the man grabbed his Taser, but bystander video appearing to show Slager shoot Scott in the back as he was running away caused debate nationwide.

In a hearing Monday, attorneys representing Michael Slager said the current retrial date, March 1, would be a bad time for them as they and several of their expert witnesses would be unavailable.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says she was ready for a March or April date but she understands why the judge picked the August date.

"We don't want to do anything to disrupt the federal case or to cause an issue on appeal and that's always a problem when we're looking at scheduling," Wilson said.

Judge Clifton Newman said if the Trump administration orders federal prosecutors to not try Slager, Newman will consider moving up the date for the retrial.

After a five-week trial last year, a jury of 12 said they would be unable to come to a unanimous decision on whether Slager was guilty or not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Prosecutors and Scott's family vowed Slager would be tried again.

In a motion filed earlier this month, the defense attorneys also argued there are 23 pending murder cases in Charleston County with arrest dates prior to that of Slager's, two of which are 10 years or older. According to the motion, 20 of those defendants are currently being held in jail. The attorneys felt that those cases should be tried first.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson with the prosecution told Newman that she would be ready on March 1, but the judge said both sides should get together and come up with a new date for the retrial.

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