The Latest: Jurors can consider lesser charge against Slager


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):

10:20 a.m.

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.

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9:30 a.m.

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.

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3:30 a.m.

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.

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