The Latest: Suspicious letters probed amid Charleston trials

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Posted: Nov 07, 2016 4:44 PM
The Latest: Suspicious letters probed amid Charleston trials

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest in the trial of a former South Carolina police officer charged with the murder of an unarmed black man (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Law enforcement officials say they are investigating nine suspicious letters mentioning racial violence that were sent to hotels, a church and a park in Charleston amid two trials with racial overtones.

Charleston city officials say local police and the FBI are investigating the letters sent last month from outside the United States. The letters were received by hotels, Emanuel AME Church and a local park where a popular holiday light display opens this week.

The trial of Michael Slager, the white former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist, is underway in state court. Meanwhile, jury selection in the case of Dylann Roof was to resume Wednesday in federal court across the street in Charleston's historic district.

Roof is charged with hate crimes, obstruction of religion and other counts in the shootings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in June of 2015.

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12:10 p.m.

The scene minutes after the fatal shooting of a black motorist has become the focus of testimony in the trial of a white former South Carolina police officer charged in the death.

North Charleston police Lt. Daniel Bowman is on the stand in murder trial of Michael Slager, who shot and killed Walter Scott as he ran from a traffic stop in April 2015.

Bowman testified that after he responded to the scene, Slager told him the shooting occurred as Scott held the officer's Taser and pointed it at Slager. That is contradicted by dramatic cellphone video of Slager shooting Scott in the back from yards away as Scott fled the officer.

The trial entered its second week Monday. Slager could be sentenced to 30 years to life if convicted.

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10:30 a.m.

The first officer to reach the scene after Officer Michael Slager shot and killed a black motorist in South Carolina testifies that no police backup was available for Slager on the morning of the April 2015 shooting.

The defense continued it cross-examination of Clarence Habersham on Monday as the murder trial of Slager entered a second week in Charleston.

Slager, who is white, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott in North Charleston. A bystander recorded video of the shooting on his cellphone.

Scott was shot as he ran from a traffic stop after being pulled over by Slager, who was alone in his patrol car at the time.

Habersham says two other officers assigned to the district where Slager was patrolling were serving warrants at the time of the incident. He also agreed with the defense that people who are stopped tend to be more compliant if there is a second officer at the scene.

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3:30 a.m.

The murder trial resumes Monday for a former South Carolina police officer who fatally shot a black man in the back during a traffic stop.

Michael Slager, who's white, is accused of shooting Walter Scott in North Charleston in April 2015. Cellphone video of the shooting has been seen millions of times on the internet.

Jurors also have seen the video and heard from 11 witnesses called by the state, including the bystander who took the video.

Prosecutors will resume their case Monday. Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.

The jury includes 11 whites and one black. Attorneys for Scott's family say they're not concerned about the jury's racial makeup and believe any jury seeing the video would render a just verdict.