CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The Latest in the trial of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist (all times local):
The case of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist is now before the jury.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman gave the jury instructions on the law and now the panel of one black man and 11 white people will consider the case after a monthlong trial.
Michael Slager, who is white, is charged with murder after shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott during a traffic stop last year in North Charleston. The shooting was captured on dramatic cellphone video that stunned the nation.
The judge instructed the jury that they can acquit Slager, convict him of murder or convict him of voluntary manslaughter. A murder conviction carries a sentence of 30 years to life. Conviction on a count of voluntary manslaughter carries a sentence of two years to 30 years.
The judge in the Michael Slagger trial in South Carolina is giving instructions to the jury.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman began describing the details of their task ahead late Wednesday following an afternoon of closing arguments.
Slager, a white former North Charleston police officer, was indicted on a murder charge after fatally shooting Walter Scott as the black motorist fled from a traffic stop. The shooting was captured on a dramatic cellphone video that stunned the nation.
After a monthlong trial, the judge ruled Wednesday that he would allow the jurors to consider an alternative verdict of manslaughter.
Because the prosecution is not alleging any aggravating circumstances that could result in the death penalty, Slager could be sentenced to 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. A conviction on manslaughter, which does not require a finding of malice, is punishable by two years to 30 years.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson is urging jurors in the Michael Slager murder trial to ignore what she calls defense attempts to divert attention from the cellphone video that shows the officer shooting Walter Scott five times in the back.
"You've seen lots of smoke and you have seen lots of mirrors" she said after the defense made its closing arguments. Slager's lawyer said Scott attacked the officer and got control of his stun gun, making him fear for his life.
But Wilson showed jurors pictures of Slager with his radio and earpiece still in place after the shooting.
She said "that is not the sign of a violent, throw-down, life-threatening fight."
She accused Slager of inventing a story about the fight, and said his fellow officers "bought everything he said that day, hook, line and sinker."
Wilson said "our whole criminal justice system rides on the back of law enforcement," and because of that, "they have to be held responsible when they mess up."
Closing arguments continue in the trial of Michael Slager, the former police officer who was recorded by a bystander shooting an unarmed man who was running away from a traffic stop.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson says Slager is guilty of murder because there had to be malice in his mind as he shot Walter Scott repeatedly in the back. But if jurors decide to consider manslaughter instead, Wilson says Slager is guilty of that, too.
Manslaughter requires a lesser standard of proof — that the killing was done in passion after being provoked.
The prosecutor says that even if Scott provoked Slager by resisting arrest, that doesn't give someone the right to do whatever they want in response.
Defense attorney Andy Savage says a video of the shooting doesn't tell the whole story, and Slager had no way to know that Scott wasn't armed.
Savage says Scott "chose to attack a police officer," and Slager "shot him in fear for his life."
Closing arguments are underway in a South Carolina courtroom in the trial of a white former police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist.
Michael Slager is charged in the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, who was shot and killed running from a traffic stop in April 2015. The shooting was captured on cellphone video by a passerby.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson started her closing argument discussing the law that applies in the case.
She told the jurors that to convict of murder they would have to find Slager shot Scott with malice. And she said that malice simply had to be in his mind the instant the shots were fired.
She said manslaughter is a killing in the heat of passion after being provoked.
But she added provocation is not justification and being provoked doesn't give someone the right to do whatever they want when they want.
The judge in the murder trial of a white former South Carolina patrolman who fatally shot a black motorist says he will let the jury consider a lesser charge of manslaughter.
Michael Slager is charged in the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott as Scott fled from a traffic stop. The shooting was captured on cellphone video that shocked the nation.
While the jury was visiting the scene of the shooting on Wednesday morning, Judge Clifton Newman told attorneys he would grant a prosecution request to let jurors choose between murder or manslaughter if they decide to convict.
South Carolina law defines murder as the unlawful taking of life with malice. In Slager's case -- because the prosecution is alleging no aggravating circumstances that could bring a death sentence -- murder carries a penalty of 30 years to life.
The prosecution contends that by shooting Scott repeatedly in the back, Slager showed evidence of malice.
Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another without malice, punishable by two to 30 years in prison.
Closing arguments are set for Wednesday afternoon.
The jury in the trial of a white former South Carolina patrolman charged with murder in the death of a black motorist is visiting the scene of the shooting.
Michael Slager is charged in the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, who was shot five times in the back as he fled a traffic stop in North Charleston in April 2015. The shooting was captured by a bystander on cellphone video that shocked the nation.
Jurors accompanied by court officials and a representative of both the defense and the prosecution were visiting the site of the shooting in a vacant lot Wednesday morning.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman told the jurors they would view the scene but said they should not discuss what they see or take any notes. News media representatives were not permitted to accompany the jury.
Closing arguments are expected when the jurors return to the Charleston County Courthouse.
After hearing from 55 witnesses over a month, a South Carolina jury is set to hear closing arguments in the Michael Slager murder trial.
Slager is the white former North Charleston patrolman charged in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott as the black motorist fled a traffic stop in April of last year. The shooting was captured on cellphone video. The 35-year-old Slager could be sentenced to 30 years to life if convicted.
A jury of 11 whites and one black will hear closing arguments Wednesday.
The prosecution contends there was no justification for shooting Scott five times in the back as he ran. The defense has argued, and the defendant himself testified, that Slager feared for his life when Scott wrestled with the officer and grabbed his Taser.