The racial makeup of the jury in the state trial of Michael Slager was called into question Wednesday. Of the 12 primary jurors in the case of the white former North Charleston officer who is charged with the murder of Walter Scott — a black man — six jurors are white men, five are white women, and one is a black man. Six alternates were also selected for the trial — two white men, two white women, and two black women.
With the potential jury pool for the trial of Michael Slager narrowed to 75 on Wednesday morning, attorneys for the prosecution and the defense decided upon the final 12 jurors and 6 alternates from a returning pool. Attorneys for both sides were given a limited number of strikes to remove candidates from the pool, until a final group of 12 jurors and six alternates was chosen. Of the 75 potential jurors from which they chose, white men outnumbered black men almost six to one. Approximately 73 percent of the total remaining prospective jurors were white and 21 percent were African-American. These potential jurors were summoned from throughout Charleston County, which is 68 percent white and 28 percent African-American.
Attorney Chad Simpson of the prosecution challenged the defense’s use of strikes in selecting jurors, alleging a possible racial motivation. The defense — which used seven of nine strikes on minority candidates — then offered their specific reasons for removing potential jurors. Two potential jurors were stricken due to admitted difficulty with the English language, one expressed anti-gun sentiments and felt he or she would spend too much time away from work, another is a colleague of a witness. Of the other minority candidates removed from the pool by the defense, one was said to have lacked the necessary education and another did not properly complete an answer in the juror questionnaire.
After hearing the defense’s reasons for striking potential jurors, the prosecution withdrew their challenge.
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