Grace Beahm/Post and Courier
Michael Slager and his attorneys look on during week three of his first state trial
The state retrial of Michael Slager has been postponed until late August to allow for the former North Charleston officer’s federal trial to proceed without conflict. Originally scheduled for March, Slager’s retrial on murder charges in the death of Walter Scott will now follow his federal trial for civil rights violations likely taking place in May.
Defense attorney Andy Savage initially asked that the state trial be moved to a later date, telling Circuit Judge Clifton Newman that important expert witnesses would not be available in March. With a new date in mind, Savage estimated that the retrial will be much shorter than the previous court battle that ended with a hung jury.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has been adamant that the state is prepared to try Slager again as soon as possible and acknowledged that prosecutors have learned several key lessons from the previous trial.
“I don’t know that it will be dramatically different, but I think there was some redundancy that we can avoid next time. We looked and our case was about eight days long. I think next time, we’re looking at six or seven,” Wilson said following the scheduling hearing.
Wilson voiced some uncertainty regarding whether the federal trial for Slager will proceed as planned under the new administration of President Donald Trump. Slager’s defense team is currently pushing for a statewide jury pool in that trial, while prosecutors argue that jurors should be selected from the Charleston area.
If the government for some reason does not decide to seek a conviction for the former officer, Judge Newman said in court that he would revisit the scheduling of the state trial to pursue an earlier start date. As for now, Slager’s state retrial is set to begin Aug. 28 in Charleston.