Judge to decide on delaying ex-officer's retrial for murder

AP News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2017 3:25 PM
Judge to decide on delaying ex-officer's retrial for murder

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A judge is considering whether to delay the scheduled March 1 retrial of a former police officer in South Carolina charged with murder in a traffic stop shooting.

At a hearing Monday, defense attorneys for Michael Slager repeated their argument that several of their experts can't be in Charleston in early March for the retrial that would take place less than three months after a jury deadlocked in Slager's first murder trial.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman asked Slager's lawyers to talk to prosecutors about dates that could work, local news outlets reported. He asked them to return to court Tuesday morning and he would decide whether to delay the retrial.

"This case has to be retried and there will probably never be a convenient time for 50-something people to appear for a trial," Newman said.

Slager's legal calendar for the spring is already full. Federal prosecutors plan to try him in May for violating Walter Scott's civil rights when he shot the black driver in the back as Scott ran from a traffic stop for a broken brake light in North Charleston in April 2015. As in the state murder trial, the maximum sentence in the federal case is life in prison.

Newman must decide quickly. Questionnaires for possible jurors in the state case are scheduled to go out later this month.

Jurors deliberated over four days but couldn't reach a verdict after Slager's monthlong trial ended in December.