Slager shot and killed black motorist Walter Scott. Michael Slager and his defense team wait last week outside a downtown Charleston hotel during jury deliberations. Local clergy hold a prayer outside the courthouse as the jury resumes deliberating in the Michael Slager trial Monday, Dec. Defense attorney Andy Savage, assistant Cheryl Savage and former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager review a note sent by the jury asking for explanations as they deliberate at the Charleston County court in Charleston on Monday Dec. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson reacts to a note received from the jury seeking explanations as they deliberate during former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager's murder trial at the Charleston County court in Charleston, S.
Defense attorney Andy Savage, former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager and assistant Cheryl Savage review a note sent by the jury asking for explanations as they deliberate at the Charleston County court in Charleston, S. For a dozen times over the past month, jurors watched a video of a North Charleston police officer fatally shooting Walter Scott as the black man ran away, but they could not agree Monday whether the lawman had committed a crime.
Declaring a hung jury, a judge ordered a mistrial for Michael Slager, the patrolman who fired eight gunshots in 2. It brought to a close a month-long murder trial that laid bare alleged shortcomings in the training of law enforcement officers and in the way police-involved deaths are investigated in South Carolina. The 12 jurors encountered another impasse on the fourth day of deliberations, a divide much deeper than a series of notes and letters indicated earlier in their talks.
An inkling that only one member refused to vote for a conviction had buoyed hopes among prosecutors and Scott's family, but they were all but dashed Monday morning when the panel said a majority of its members remained undecided — a development that quickly shifted hope to the opposite side of the downtown Charleston courtroom. The jury had three options for Slager: convictions for murder or voluntary manslaughter, or an acquittal.
As the presiding judge told the jurors that the mistrial would put the case back to "Square 1, as if this trial never happened," some closed their eyes and bowed their heads. Others nodded. They did the same as Wilson and lead defense attorney Andy Savage bid them farewell. One woman sobbed and dabbed tears.
The jurors left swiftly, filing through a doorway to their parked cars, driving away from a courthouse they had visited 22 days since Halloween and leaving behind opposite sides of a dispute still searching for justice. Slager, who had told jurors his side of the story, met with his wife afterward at a nearby hotel. He will remain free on bail through the holidays.
They discussed their plans. Savage said political leaders' reaction to the mistrial typified how his client had been treated through a rush to judgment and a failure to consider the decision Slager thought was his only option for self-defense. Several members of the Scott family stood up, pushed open a courtroom door and left as he spoke to the jury. A host of national news media descended on Charleston as the jury once appeared on the verge of a verdict.
Many of them had leaned on their faith in God to help deliver the justice they seek.
The Rev. Nelson Rivers, a North Charleston pastor and civil rights advocate from the National Action Network, also looked to the heavens. They had learned that Slager stopped Scott's car on April 4, , and soon began chasing the fleeing man on foot. In a confrontation, Slager told the jurors that he and Scott fought over his Taser and that Scott eventually grabbed it. He fired in self-defense, he testified, as Scott turned. But the bystander's video showed the Taser bouncing on the ground while Scott separated himself from Slager and ran. Experts estimated that the policeman was about 17 feet away when he fired the first time.
Five of the eight bullets hit Scott. He was arrested on a murder charge once the video emerged publicly, but prosecutors pushed for the manslaughter count as another option for the jury. At one point, the foreman said the jury was deadlocked, pointing to a single juror unwilling to consider Slager guilty of anything. But that lone juror also indicated that only some disagreed with his position. Upon their return Monday, the jury penned another note, this time from a new member.
It listed six questions ranging from why the jurors had been given the manslaughter option, to whether a self-defense claim is different for a police officer than for other citizens.
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His defense lawyers smiled when they were handed a copy and huddled with the defendant. The opposing attorneys argued over how Circuit Judge Clifton Newman should respond to the questions. He opted to use a hybrid of their proposals. Most significantly, he told the jurors that fear could prompt someone to act in the heat of passion — a request of prosecutors that Newman had declined to carry out last week.
The defense took exception to the move. But the judge said the answers would help the jury reach a unanimous verdict. Either a conviction or an acquittal would have required such a vote.
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Minutes after defense lawyers aired their objections, the judge summoned everyone back. A control hearing about what happens next is scheduled for Jan.
Lewis had pleaded not guilty to murder and sexual abuse charges in the Aug. He was 20 when he allegedly sexually assaulted and strangled Vetrano, abandoning her body in the marsh. Vetrano had gone out for her usual run early that evening. She never came home. Her father, Phil Vetrano, was among the group that found her body in Howard Beach's Spring Creek Park hours after she was reported missing. Phil Vetrano broke down on the stand as he testified about the horror. Jurors are deciding the fate of a man accused of killing a jogger in New York. Rana Novini reports. Lewis, who was 20 when he allegedly sexually assaulted and strangled Vetrano, was arrested in the killing about six months after her death.
Prosecutors said he was connected to the case via DNA evidence obtained from underneath Vetrano's fingernails.
The medical examiner had said she fought for her life. In a confession tape played during the trial last week, Lewis was heard saying he was angry about the loud music his neighbor had been playing when he encountered Vetrano jogging on the park trail. The father of Karina Vetrano broke down on the stand as he told the courtroom about finding his daughter's body after she went out for a jog and never returned. Lewis' defense lawyers claimed in closing arguments that a confession was obtained under duress and the evidence in the case was weak.
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They said the DNA found on the Vetrano's body was minuscule, and that police were eager to make an arrest six months after her body was found. The defense also claimed there was sloppy police work, starting with the crime scene when Vetrano's father lifted up and hugged her lifeless body when he found her.
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He broke down on the stand as he testified about the horror last week. The defense said because of that, "The crime scene became corrupted for the first time.
You can't blame Mr.