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Prosecutors urge life in prison for Michael Slager in upcoming sentencing hearing

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Federal prosecutors argue Michael Slager committed second degree murder when he shot and killed Walter Scott in April 2015, and they want a judge to use that as the basis for deciding the former North Charleston Police Officer's fate in an upcoming sentencing hearing.

For Slager, that could mean life in prison without parole.

Slager is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge David Norton Dec. 4 for his sentencing. Slager pleaded guilty in May to depriving Scott of his civil rights under the color of law.

Court records show prosecutors have planned all along to ask that Norton use second degree murder sentencing guidelines when deciding Slager's punishment, as noted in the plea agreement Slager signed in May.

In a memo to Norton filed Nov. 17, prosecutors made good on a promise to seek second degree murder punishment, arguing when Slager acknowledged he willfully used unreasonable force in shooting Scott when he signed his guilty plea.

That admission, prosecutors argue, established malice on Slager's part, thus negating the argument that he killed Scott in the “heat of passion,” which would qualify as voluntary manslaughter.

Slager's defense attorney, Andy Savage, argues against the government's motion in a memo of his own filed Nov. 22.

Savage says a voluntary manslaughter charge absolutely should be the basis for Slager's sentencing, and said prosecutors "justify their advocacy (for a murder charge standard) with a disingenuous interpretation of the law and a false narrative of facts."

Savage also says the U.S. Parole Officer who authored the pre-sentencing report on Slager that was given to Norton recommends using the voluntary manslaughter standard.

This document is not available among online court records at this time. ABC News 4 has reached out to Savage for a copy.

If voluntary manslaughter is the standard Norton applies, Slager would only face 10-12 years in prison.

Prosecutors additionally argue in their pre-sentencing memo that Slager should face a harsher sentence because of repeated so-called attempts to obstruct justice during the trial and investigation. Prosecutors also point to other mitigating factors they believe warrant a sterner punishment.


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