Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Federal prosecutors oppose statewide jury pool for upcoming trial of Michael Slager

Government requests local jury for federal trial

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 1:37 PM

Michael Slager's faces a retrial for state charges in March followed by a federal trial in May - GRACE BEAHN/POST AND COURIER
  • Grace Beahn/Post and Courier
  • Michael Slager's faces a retrial for state charges in March followed by a federal trial in May
Federal prosecutors are opposing a motion from Michael Slager and his attorneys to draw from a statewide jury pool. The former North Charleston officer has pleaded not guilty to Slager charges of deprivation of rights under the color of law, use of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, and obstruction of justice in the killing of Walter Scott. With his federal trial set to begin May 1, prosecutors hope to select a jury from the Charleston and Beaufort areas.

Following one of the most high-profile trials in South Carolina’s recent history, Slager’s state murder trial ended in deadlock as jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision regarding his guilt. Now, attorneys representing Slager in federal court cite the massive public attention the case has received as justification to look outside of the Charleston area for a fair and impartial jury.

“To ensure the efficient selection of impartial jurors, Mr. Slager respectfully requests the court find that, due to the extensive pretrial publicity in this case, the services of a district-wide petit jury is required,” states a motion filed by Slager’s attorneys earlier this month.

Slager was captured on eyewitness video shooting Walter Scott after Scott fled from a traffic stop for a non-functioning taillight. Attorney Andy Savage, who is representing Slager in both state and federal trials, has argued that Scott was able to wrestle Slager’s Taser away from the officer during a brief struggle. Claiming he feared for his life, Slager said he fired the fatal shots after Scott approached him with the weapon.

The video of the shooting begins just moments after the struggle and shows Scott turning his back to Slager and fleeing before being shot five times from behind.
The release of the eyewitness video just days after Scott’s death called into question major details in the former officer’s account of what happened that day and drew national attention. Federal prosecutors, however, argue that the extensive publicity that the case has received does not justify a statewide jury pool.

“Admittedly, although this case has received extensive media coverage, pre-trial publicity has not been limited to the Charleston and Beaufort area,” states a motion filed by prosecutors Tuesday. “There has been extensive statewide and national coverage. There is no evidence to suggest that the extent of publicity in the Charleston and Beaufort area exceeds that in the remaining areas of our state.”

Attorneys for the government also say that enough safeguards are in place during the jury-selection process to guarantee Slager an unbiased jury and point to the extensive travel time and court cost that could possibly arise from selecting jurors from across the state to participate in the trial set to take place in a Charleston courtroom.

“For example, if a district-wide juror was selected from Pickens County to serve in the instant action in Charleston County, that juror would need to endure an eight-hour round trip each day of trial or be provided with lodging, in both instances generating additional court costs,” states the motion from federal prosecutors. “These costs are unnecessary given Defendant’s failure to demonstrate good cause.”

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'Today' films Charleston activists for Women's March on Washington segment

The segment will air this weekend

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 12:36 PM

The Today Show might feature Charleston in a segment on the Women's March on Washington this weekend - KINSEY GIDICK
  • Kinsey Gidick
  • The Today Show might feature Charleston in a segment on the Women's March on Washington this weekend
As part of its inauguration coverage, today the Today Show stopped by Lowcountry Local First to speak with local activists about this Saturday's Women's March on Washington. Some of the women featured in last week's cover story, "Women Activate," were in attendance including area march organizer Hayne Beattie-Gray. Other women interviewed included Karalee Nielsen Fallart, Melody Shemtov, Jamee Haley, and Stephanie Barna.

"This is part of a bigger segment that will include interviews with women from Princeton, N.J. to New York City, Chicago, and other city's around the country who are participating in the march," said NBC's onsite interviewer Donna Paine. For the segment activists will discuss why they've gotten involved in the Women's March and how they hope to bring about change.

NBC's Kate Snow will lead the segment which is expected to air on Friday morning.

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‘Inappropriate’ social media accounts target West Ashley High School students

Pages said to include inflammatory statements, photos

Posted by Dustin Waters on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 12:35 PM

West Ashley High School - CCSD
  • CCSD
  • West Ashley High School
Staff at West Ashley High School contacted police following several complaints from students and parents regarding multiple social media pages depicting “inappropriate pictures and posts” about current and former students.

On Jan. 4, the mother of a female student called the school to bring the Instagram pages to the attention of the school’s head guidance counselor. The following day several other students approached personnel with West Ashley High School’s guidance department to complain about the social media posts.

“On the page were several posts of students along with inflammatory statements made about them, as well as pictures of unknown females with their buttocks exposed,” read an incident report filed with the Charleston Police Department.

The incident report states that the online activity was then placed under investigation by Detective Doug Galluccio, task force officer with Homeland Security Investigations and full-time investigator for the city’s Cyber Crimes Division. When asked about the current state of the case earlier this week, Galluccio could provide no additional information.

With the incident at West Ashley High School highlighting the harmful potential of some social media platforms, at least one state lawmaker is looking to combat online harassment. South Carolina Rep. Cezar McKnight recently filed two pieces of legislation aimed at combating online harassment.

One bill would make it a misdemeanor offense to maliciously publish photographs or similar images on a website with the intention of harming a person’s character or reputation. Those convicted of the crime would face a fine up to $1,000 and the possibility of up to one year in prison. The other bill filed by McKnight would make those found guilty of posting photographs with the intent to harm a person’s character liable in a civil action for damages arising from any malicious publications.

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The Agenda: Haley to go before senators tomorrow; Downtown urban farm; Where Trump won big in S.C.

Trump pulled GOP votes from traditionally-blue areas

Posted by Sam Spence on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 11:54 AM

  • flickr.com/carolinastarx
  • Gov. Nikki Haley

975: The number of S.C. road deaths in 2016. Source: P&C

Report from the King Day at the Dome event yesterday: "Trump hangs over SC State House rally"

The story of how President-elect Donald Trump won can be seen in areas where Democratic voters didn't turn out in the same numbers they did in previous elections. And in areas like Horry County which showed a surge in Republican votes. Source: The State

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley will answer questions from members of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as part of a flurry of hearings for nominees slated to serve in the Trump administration. Source: P&C

Haley would succeed Samantha Power as U.N. ambassador, and the two recently discussed the challenges of the job as Haley gets set to take over the Cabinet-level post. Source: WFAE

Georgetown County state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch says environmentalists are the ones holding up state road improvements and wants those opposing infrastructure projects to be required to pay a 'bond,' or put money up as collateral to ensure fair dealing in order to object to a major project. (Background from 2015.) Source: Coastal Observer, SouthStrandNews.com

The City of Charleston and the Green Heart Project are working together to build an urban farm at the historic Enston Homes development off Upper King Street. Source: P&C

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Monday, January 16, 2017

The Agenda: MLK Day; Carrying on the legacy; Walterboro teen kidnapped at birth reunited

Scott deferential in response to Trump-Lewis dispute

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 11:36 AM

King attends a planning meeting at Emanuel AME in 1962 - AVERY RESEARCH CENTER
  • Avery Research Center
  • King attends a planning meeting at Emanuel AME in 1962

On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Loved ones of those killed by Dylann Roof continue to advocate on behalf of the causes championed by those lost at Emanuel AME, where Dr. King once spoke in favor of civil rights. Source: P&C

Meanwhile, with a state trial still planned for Dylann Roof despite his death sentence in federal court, it will likely be a 'long, complicated' saga before he is executed. Source: P&C

NYT headline, Part 5/6: "Jolted by Deaths, Obama Found His Voice on Race"

When asked about President-elect Donald Trump's critical comments on U.S. Rep. John Lewis after he questioned the legitimacy of Trump's election, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott called Lewis, a lifelong civil rights activist, an "American hero" and insisted Trump was fairly elected. Source: P&C

The number of S.C.-based banks has dropped by nearly half since 1996. Source: P&C

North Charleston is reportedly tied up in a lawsuit over its handling of an illegal search in 2013 in which police allegedly caused $10,000 in damage when they ransacked a local home unsuccessfully looking for a suspect without a warrant. Source: P&C

A S.C. teen who was apparently stolen from the hospital just a few hours after her birth and raised in Walterboro, S.C. was reunited with her birth family this weekend. Source: P&C

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