The lone black juror who also served as foreman during the Michael Slager trial had a pending felony charge against him that was mysteriously dropped by prosecutors during the Slager trial.
Dorsey Montgomery, 34, was indicted last year on the charge of breach of trust with fraudulent intent, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, the Post and Courier reports. Assistant Solicitor Ted Corvey dropped the charge on Nov. 17 “per statute.” No further reasoning was given for the charge being dropped.
As previously reported on The Root, Michael Slager, 35, was charged with and stood trial for the murder of 50-year-old Walter Scott, whom Slager shot in the back as Scott was fleeing on foot from a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C. A jury of 11 whites and one black was unable to agree on a verdict in the trial, with reports saying that one juror was the holdout. A mistrial was eventually declared, with the prosecution promising to try Slager again for Scott’s murder.
According to the Post and Courier, it is unknown whether the breach-of-trust charge was discussed during jury selection, but none of the lawyers involved in the case objected to Montgomery serving. Montgomery was also the only juror who said he had not known about the case or watched an eyewitness video that showed Slager shooting Scott in the back as he ran.
Slager’s defense attorney, Andy Savage, told the Post and Courier that he knew about Montgomery’s past, but he did not opt to exclude him from the jury panel. He acknowledged that in the case of a conviction, the limited questioning of prospective jurors’ history would have been grounds for an appeal.
The charges against Montgomery were dropped three weeks into the trial, on the same day he was appointed jury foreman. Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson told the Post and Courier that the charges were dropped without her knowledge.
“I was not aware that his charges were resolved in the midst of trial,” Wilson said, “or what the circumstances were surrounding their resolution.”
In a brief phone interview with the Post and Courier, Montgomery said, “I’m a big boy. Whatever transpired transpired. What happened happened. Whatever was done was done.”
Both Montgomery and his defense attorney, Allen Mastantuno, declined to give further comment.
Montgomery was making the talk show rounds on Thursday, appearing on both Today and The View. He said he chose to speak out to set the record straight about the jury’s discussions.
There has been speculation that Montgomery may have been the holdout juror in the initial deadlock, but in his appearance on the Today show, he made it clear that was not the case. The jury foreman said that after seeing the bystander's video, he first thought that Scott was murdered. Montgomery had hoped that further deliberations could have swayed the holdout juror, but by Monday, the juror still had not budged.
"He just had his own convictions," Montgomery told Today, "and I’ll leave that right there."
It appears that the holdout juror's convictions were stronger than Montgomery's, because after looking at the evidence, taking into account the legal requirements for murder and factoring in the judge’s instructions, he and the rest of the jury decided to deliberate on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter as opposed to murder.
Still, there was no conviction.
Montgomery told the hosts on The View that race was not a factor in the courtroom, although it may have been a factor for the nation.
"I believe that justice shall come forth," Montgomery added. "Whatever the outcome will be … that is what the outcome shall be."
Read more at the Post and Courier.
Also on The Root: