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COLUMBIA, S.C. – A judge upheld a 20-year prison sentence on Monday for former police officer Michael Slager in the killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man who ran from a traffic stop in South Carolina, rejecting Slager’s claims his lawyer did a poor job.

Slager had appealed his sentence, saying his lawyer never told him about a plea offer from prosecutors that could have cut years off his eventual prison term for shooting Scott five times in the back.

But federal Judge Richard Gergel wrote in his ruling Monday that he believed Slager’s lawyer Andy Savage, who said in 2017 court papers that he told his client about every plea offer. Slager testified during a hearing last week he didn’t know about the initial deal from prosecutors.

Slager’s 20-year sentence was one of the longest in recent memory for a police officer for an on-duty killing.

Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge for shooting Scott in the back five times on April 4, 2015. Slager had pulled over the 50-year-old Black motorist for a broken brake light when their confrontation was captured on a bystander’s cellphone video that later spread worldwide on social media.

In the encounter, the two could be seen tumbling to the ground after Slager hit Scott with a Taser. Authorities said their investigation found Scott got back up and was shot from a distance of about 15 feet as he ran from the officer.

The shooting itself was captured on video, something Slager didn’t know when he initially told investigators that Scott had charged at him after stealing his Taser.

“At sentencing, Petitioner attempted to blame the victim. Now, he attempts to blame his defense counsel and the trial judge. But a careful review of this entire tragic episode makes plain that Petitioner has no one to blame for his present predicament and sentence but himself,” Gergel wrote.

Savage is one of South Carolina’s most accomplished attorneys and at the time he was also representing a Black church member whose life was spared in a racist massacre that killed nine people in a Charleston church in 2015, two months after Slager’s arrest.

Slager’s new lawyers didn’t question his guilt, just a sentence that according to federal prison records will keep him behind bars until 2033.

While Slager pleaded guilty to a civil rights offense, the length of his sentence depended on how federal judge David Norton interpreted the shooting. If it was voluntary manslaughter committed in the heat of passion, sentencing guidelines meant Slager might have faced as little as seven years.

But Norton ruled the shooting amounted to second-degree murder because Slager fired nine shots total and lied about Scott stealing his Taser.

Savage said in court papers as part of Slager’s appeal that he did not tell the ex-officer about the potential plea deal offered eight months before because of a conversation he had with Norton during a private meeting about public funding for Slager’s defense where the judge said this “is not a murder case.”

Savage took it to believe Norton was going to rule it was a manslaughter case where the upper end of the sentencing guidelines were eight years in prison, nearly four years less than the lower end of the prosecution’s offer. He recommended Slager plead guilty without the deal.

Savage never asked Norton for clarity. In court papers in Slager’s appeal, Norton said he was discussing Slager’s state trial on murder charges which had already taken place and ended in a mistrial.

Savage testified during last week’s hearing that his promises in earlier court papers that he shared all plea deals with Slager in court documents filed before the final plea were true.

Slager’s state murder charge was dropped as part of the federal plea deal. He could have faced life in prison if convicted of that charge and his lawyers said Slager wanted to spend his prison time in federal custody where he felt he would be safer than in state prison.

Gergel praised Savage and his fellow lawyers in his ruling for being “zealous advocates” and said their work that led to a four-day sentencing hearing that cost nearly $100,000 in taxpayer money “far exceeded a minimally acceptable standard of performance and showed elements of originality and creativity in the face of a daunting set of facts.”

In the end, even a great lawyer could not overcome the video of Slager shooting nine times at a running man’s back and then lying about it, Gergel said.

“Attorneys are advocates, not magicians, and they could not make this damning evidence disappear,” Gergel wrote.

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Crime

Giants vs. Cowboys Thanksgiving Day Game Makes History With 42 Million Viewers

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The football game that took place on Thanksgiving Day between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set a record. It was the most-watched NFL regular-season game on network television in NFL history.

The Cowboys defeated the Giants with a 28-20 victory.

Besides just the usual tradition of watching football on Thanksgiving, there are other reasons why this game was so popular.

First, the Cowboys and Giants are popular teams whose cities hold the No.1 and No. 5 media markets in the U.S.

The game also showed two 7-3 teams visibly in the playoff possibilities. The Giants are in the first year of rebuilding under general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll. However, they started the season off surprisingly and have won games against division leaders, the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

At the same, the Cowboys are doing well, being said to have the No. 1 scoring defense. Linebacker Micah Parsons is leading with 12 sacks himself.

The game was close until the fourth quarter.

At halftime, the Giants were beating the Cowboys 13-7. But, the Cowboys came back with three consecutive second-half touchdowns which put the score at 28-13. The Giants touchdown with eight seconds ended the scoring.

Neither team will play again until Sunday, December 4. The Giants will play the Washington Commanders, and the Cowboys will play the Indiana Colts.



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Parents Charged After Leaving Two-Year-Old Home Alone While Going Out Of State

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Parents from South Carolina have been taken into custody after leaving their 2-year-old child at home alone as they went to New York, the Charleston Police Department said.

Authorities say that on November 17, close to 2 p.m., they arrived to a residence after receiving information about a toddler being by themselves in an apartment.

Court documents show that someone told police that the child’s father sent a text message indicating that he was in New York for business purposes.

Because the apartment complex couldn’t reach anyone inside of the apartment, they conducted an emergency walk-through.

Records state that a child was discovered asleep on a bed in the living room.

Authorities stated that the child woke up and wanted his empty water bottle. Besides a dirty pamper, the toddler was in good condition and was transported to a hospital through a foster care provider.

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Police say that they attempted to contact the father and mother but were unable to do so.

Later, 24-year-old Donald Gekonge, the father of the child, reached out to the complex and talked to police. He reportedly told them that he had left at 6 a.m. that morning, and he was “only a few states away.”

Eventually, he stated that he was in New York for business, and he was unaware of who was caring for his toddler. However, he believed that it was the mother of the child, Darline Aldrich.

Then, later on, Gekonge’s story evolved even more. He admitted that Aldrich was in New York, as well, for an emergency.

Gekonge and Aldrich were apprehended on charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.

Gekonge’s bond was set at $50,000, and Aldrich’s bond was placed at $75,000.



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Top 5 Drug-Related Arrests Caught on Bodycam

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The Law&Crime Network’s Angenette Levy and retired DEA agent Steve Murphy break down five drug-related arrests caught on bodycam by (more…)

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