Trial of Alex Murdaugh
The murder trial of Alex Murdaugh began January 25, 2023, with instructions from the judge and opening statements from the prosecution and defense before the jury was sequestered. Murdaugh was accused of the murders of his wife and their 22-year-old son a year and a half earlier. Local media were calling the trial South Carolina's "trial of the century".
On June 7, 2021, Murdaugh called police from his cell phone at around 10pm, saying he had discovered the bodies of 22-year-old son Paul and 52-year-old wife Maggie near the dog kennels at the family's hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina. Both had been shot multiple times and with different weapons. Murdaugh reported that at the time of the killings (around 9pm it was later determined), he had been with his terminally ill father, Randolph III, and mother, who has dementia.
At the time of the murders, Alex and Maggie Murdaugh had become increasingly estranged, and Maggie began living at the family's beach home. Police reports indicated that Alex had called Maggie and asked her to meet at the lodge so that they could travel together to visit his ill father. Maggie expressed hesitance to travel to the lodge and instead suggested the two meet at a public place. Maggie then texted a friend, stating that Alex sounded "fishy" and was "up to something". According to prosecutors, Maggie eventually traveled to the lodge and parked her car at the house before walking to the dog kennels, where she found her son Paul. This is the place that the bodies were found and where authorities allege the two were fatally shot.
In October 2021, it was revealed that South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had regarded Alex as a person of interest in the homicides since the start of the investigation. A South Carolina lawmaker described SLED chief Mark Keel as a "straight arrow" who wants to have an airtight case, "He knows he's up against the good ole boys who will bury him if gets the tiniest thing wrong. He's not dropping anything until he's absolutely sure."
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Indictment and arrest
Alex Murdaugh was arrested in July of 2022 after the Colleton County Grand Jury issued an indictment charging him with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the deaths of his wife, Maggie, and his son, Paul. The indictment stated Alex shot his wife with a rifle and his son with a shotgun. Sources close to the investigation said that high-velocity blood spatter on Alex's clothing as well as cellphone footage had placed Murdaugh at the scene when his wife and son were shot. Prosecutors suggested Murdaugh was motivated by a desire to garner sympathy in the wake of financial issues which were beginning to go public. Murdaugh pled not guilty, while state prosecutors said they would seek life without parole rather than the death penalty.
The trial began January 25, 2023 at the Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro, SC, with instructions from the judge and opening statements from the prosecution and defense before the jury was sequestered.
Alex Murdaugh is represented by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin. The cases are being overseen by South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton B. Newman, who is the nephew of the late civil rights leader Isaiah DeQuincey Newman. Creighton Waters, chief prosecutor for the state grand jury, leads the prosecuting team against Murdaugh. Witnesses for the defense and prosecution were expected to number in the hundreds.
The first prosecution witnesses included first responders on the scene after Murdaugh's 911 call. The prosecution asked the judge to compel a representative of Snapchat to testify about a video posted by Paul Murdaugh minutes before his death. The prosecution brought SLED witnesses to testify about firearms and ballistics and an interview conducted with Alex Murdaugh in a car on June 21st, 2021, during which Murdaugh said of his son, "It's just so bad. I did him so bad," which Waters emphasized for the jury. The defense team disputed whether the recording said "I" or "they". A credit card receipt with a $1000 Gucci purchase circled was entered into evidence. The prosecution brought an expert witness to testify about data collected by Maggie's phone.
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This section needs additional citations for verification. (January 2023)
On June 22, 2021, the "Murdaugh Murders" podcast was released by FITSNews news director Mandy Matney. As of November 30, 2022, there have been 70 episodes released, as well as 6 bonus episodes discussing related cases.
On September 8, 2021, HBO Max announced that Campfire Studios would produce a documentary series on the events surrounding the murders. The documentary was released under the name Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty on November 3, 2022.
On June 19, 2022, Investigation Discovery aired a three-part miniseries, The Murdaugh Murders: Deadly Dynasty.
On July 15, 2022, ABC aired 20/20 Exclusive: Murdaugh Family Murders.
In December 2022, American Greed aired a two-part episode titled "The Decline of a Dynasty".
Source: "Trial of Alex Murdaugh", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, February 1st), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Alex_Murdaugh.
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