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Trial of Alex Murdaugh

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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".

Background

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.[1] Both had been shot multiple times and with different weapons.[2][3] 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.[4][5][6]

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.[7]

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.[6] 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."[8]

Discover more about Background related topics

Islandton, South Carolina

Islandton, South Carolina

Islandton is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Colleton County, South Carolina, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 70. South Carolina Highway 63 passes through the community, leading east 17 miles (27 km) to Walterboro, the county seat, and southwest 10 miles (16 km) to Varnville. Islandton has a post office with ZIP code 29929.

Dementia

Dementia

Dementia is a disorder which manifests as a set of related symptoms, which usually surfaces when the brain is damaged by injury or disease. The symptoms involve progressive impairments in memory, thinking, and behavior, which negatively affects a person's ability to function and carry out everyday activities. Aside from memory impairment and a disruption in thought patterns, the most common symptoms include emotional problems, difficulties with language, and decreased motivation. The symptoms may be described as occurring in a continuum over several stages. Consciousness is not affected. Dementia ultimately has a significant effect on the individual, caregivers, and on social relationships in general. A diagnosis of dementia requires the observation of a change from a person's usual mental functioning and a greater cognitive decline than what is caused by normal aging.

Person of interest

Person of interest

"Person of interest" is a term used by law enforcement in the United States, Canada, and other countries when identifying someone possibly involved in a criminal investigation who has not been arrested or formally accused of a crime. It has no legal meaning, but refers to someone in whom the police are "interested", either because the person is cooperating with the investigation, may have information that would assist the investigation, or possesses certain characteristics that merit further attention.

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.[9][10] 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.[11] Prosecutors suggested Murdaugh was motivated by a desire to garner sympathy in the wake of financial issues which were beginning to go public.[12] Murdaugh pled not guilty, while state prosecutors said they would seek life without parole rather than the death penalty.[13][14]

Trial

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.[15][16]

Alex Murdaugh is represented by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.[17][18] 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.[19][20] Creighton Waters, chief prosecutor for the state grand jury, leads the prosecuting team against Murdaugh.[17] Witnesses for the defense and prosecution were expected to number in the hundreds.[21]

The first prosecution witnesses included first responders on the scene after Murdaugh's 911 call.[22] The prosecution asked the judge to compel a representative of Snapchat to testify about a video posted by Paul Murdaugh minutes before his death.[18] 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.[23] The defense team disputed whether the recording said "I" or "they".[24] A credit card receipt with a $1000 Gucci purchase circled was entered into evidence.[23] The prosecution brought an expert witness to testify about data collected by Maggie's phone.[24]

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Colleton County, South Carolina

Colleton County, South Carolina

Colleton County is in the Lowcountry region of the U.S. state of South Carolina. As of the 2020 census, the population was 38,604. Its county seat is Walterboro. The county is named after Sir John Colleton, 1st Baronet, one of the eight Lords Proprietor of the Province of Carolina. After two previous incarnations, the current Colleton County was created in 1800.

Walterboro, South Carolina

Walterboro, South Carolina

Walterboro is a city in Colleton County, South Carolina, United States. The city's population was 5,398 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Colleton County. Walterboro is located 48 miles (77 km) west of Charleston and is located near the ACE Basin region in the South Carolina Lowcountry. It is known as "The Front Porch of the Lowcountry".

Dick Harpootlian

Dick Harpootlian

Richard A. Harpootlian is an American attorney and politician serving as a member of the South Carolina Senate from the 20th district. He served as the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2011 to 2013.

Clifton Newman

Clifton Newman

Clifton Newman is an attorney and at-large judge of the South Carolina Circuit Court. He has served as a judge since his election by the state's general assembly in 2000. In 2021, he was reelected to a fourth term that will expire in 2027. In his role as a circuit court judge he has presided over several high profile trials including the trial of the Michael Slager, the police officer accused in the killing of Walter Scott. He is currently presiding over the trial of Alex Murdaugh.

Isaiah DeQuincey Newman

Isaiah DeQuincey Newman

Isaiah DeQuincey Newman was a civil rights activist, Methodist pastor, and state senator from the US state of South Carolina. He is credited with assisting in the foundation of the Democratic Progressive Party, and serving as the state field director for the South Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1960 to 1969.

In media

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.[25] 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".

Local media were calling the trial South Carolina's "the trial of the century".[26][27][28][29]

Source: "Trial of Alex Murdaugh", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, February 1st), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_of_Alex_Murdaugh.

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See also
References
  1. ^ Baker, KC (September 7, 2021). "'Big Family, Old Money, New Drama': Inside the Powerful S.C. Family at Center of Murder Mystery". People. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  2. ^ "Murders, mystery, money: Here's a timeline of the Murdaugh family killings". The Greenville News. September 8, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  3. ^ Baker, KC (June 15, 2021). "Why Were a 'Loving' Mother and Son from a S.C. Family Dynasty Murdered on Their 1,770-Acre Property?". People. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  4. ^ "Full Timeline: Murdaugh Family Investigations 2015 – 2021". WCBD-TV. September 7, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Prominent lawyer speaks out following shooting incident 3 months after wife and son killed". CBS News. September 6, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Pilar Melendenz (October 13, 2021). "Alex Murdaugh's Lawyer Finally Admits He's a Person of Interest in Family Murders". The Daily Beast. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  7. ^ Massie, Graeme (July 17, 2022). "Alex Murdaugh's wife texted friend to say husband was 'up to something' hours before murder". The Independent. Retrieved July 17, 2022 – via Yahoo! News.
  8. ^ Dana Kennedy (November 6, 2021). "Secret life of Maggie Murdaugh, notorious murders' forgotten victim". New York Post. Retrieved December 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Monk, John; Ferguson, Lana (July 14, 2022). "Alex Murdaugh indicted in June 2021 murders of his wife, son at their SC estate". The Island Packet. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  10. ^ Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas (July 14, 2022). "South Carolina Lawyer Alex Murdaugh Charged With Killing Wife and Son". The New York Times. Retrieved July 14, 2022.
  11. ^ Sharp, Rachel (July 14, 2022). "Murders, multi-million-dollar fraud and mystery deaths: Alex Murdaugh's spectacular fall from grace". The Independent. Retrieved July 15, 2022 – via Yahoo! News.
  12. ^ Melendez, Pilar (December 8, 2022). "Motive Revealed in Alex Murdaugh's Alleged Murder of Wife and Son". The Daily Beast. Retrieved December 8, 2022 – via Yahoo! News.
  13. ^ Sharp, Rachel (July 20, 2022). "Alex Murdaugh pleads not guilty to murders of wife and son as prosecutors hint at motive". Independent. Retrieved July 20, 2022.
  14. ^ "SC official says Alex Murdaugh will not face death penalty". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. December 20, 2022. Retrieved December 20, 2022.
  15. ^ Andone, Dakin (2023-01-25). "Opening statements begin in Alex Murdaugh's trial for the murders of his wife and son". CNN. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  16. ^ Bogel-Burroughs, Nicholas (2023-01-25). "Murdaugh Trial Live Updates: Lawyers Describe Carnage Where Wife and Son Died". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-25.
  17. ^ a b Wilks, Avery G. (December 17, 2022). "Meet Creighton Waters, the Murdaugh prosecutor whose investigations toppled an SC dynasty". The Post and Courier. Retrieved January 27, 2023.
  18. ^ a b Hill, Bailee (2023-01-29). "Snapchat video in Alex Murdaugh double-murder trial is the 'strongest evidence' for prosecution: Nancy Grace". Fox News. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  19. ^ "Who is the judge overseeing the Murdaugh murder trial?". WHNS-TV. January 9, 2023. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  20. ^ Hawes, Jennifer Berry (September 2, 2022). "Murdaugh cases overseen by SC Judge Clifton Newman, who rose from segregated schools to bench". The Post and Courier. Retrieved January 10, 2023.
  21. ^ "Alex Murdaugh murder trial: Key revelations and unanswered questions after Week 1". The Greenville News. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  22. ^ "Murdaugh trial begins with first responders' testimonies". ABC Columbia. 2023-01-26. Retrieved 2023-01-26.
  23. ^ a b "Alex Murdaugh murder trial: Everything you need to know before Tuesday's proceedings". The Greenville News. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  24. ^ a b Grzeszczak, Jocelyn; Wilks, Avery G.; Moore, Thad. "Live: Witnesses in Alex Murdaugh double murder trial discuss phone records, firearms". Post and Courier. Retrieved 2023-01-31.
  25. ^ White, Peter (September 8, 2021). "Murdaugh Family Murders Explored In Campfire-Produced Doc Series In The Works At HBO Max". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  26. ^ "Murders, fraud, and a hitman plot: Alex Murdaugh's spectacular fall from grace". The Independent. 2023-01-26. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  27. ^ Melendez, Pilar (2023-01-26). "Cops Didn't See Alex Murdaugh Shed a Tear at Murder Scene". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  28. ^ Hughes, Morgan. "As Murdaugh's 'trial of the century' unfolds, the town of Walterboro awaits crowds. Will they come?". Hastings Tribune. Retrieved 2023-01-29.
  29. ^ Buck, Kennedy (2023-01-22). "Jury selection begins Monday for trial of the century: the Murdaugh murders". WCIV. Retrieved 2023-01-29.

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