Jury selection for Alex Murdaugh accused of killing wife, son
Alex Murdaugh is on trial accused of murdering his son and wife to cover up a yearslong fraud and money laundering scheme in a case that has gripped South Carolina.
Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found shot dead on their rural Colleton County property in June 2021.
More than a year later, Mr Murdaugh, 54, was charged with their murder and pleaded not guilty. Opening arguments are expected to begin Wednesday after the final jury was seated.
The trial marks a spectacular fall from grace for Mr Murdaugh, who was until recently a powerful attorney and came from three generations of district attorneys who reigned over South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
He has since been disbarred, and in a separate criminal case faces more than 100 charges for an alleged $9m tax evasion scheme.
In pre-trial arguments, prosecutors said they wanted to show the jury evidence of the other crimes Mr Murdaugh is charged with.
They argue that Mr Murdaugh killed his wife and son show he killed his wife and son as a distraction from the other crimes he was allegedly committing, which included money laundering and stealing settlement cash from clients.
A botched hitman plot
Three months after Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were murdered, Mr Murdaugh was shot on the side of a road in Hampton County.
He survived and called 911, claiming he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while he was changing a tire on his vehicle.
He was treated at a hospital for what police called a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” but his story quickly unravelled.
One day after the shooting, Mr Murdaugh entered rehab for a 20-year opioid addiction and announced he had resigned from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED).
Just one day before the shooting, Mr Murdaugh’s law firm partners accused him of stealing millions of dollars from its clients going back years and had confronted him about the allegations. They ousted him from the firm that day.
Mr Murdaugh’s version of events rapidly fell apart and, on 13 September, he confessed to police to paying an alleged hitman to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so that his surviving son Buster could get a $10m life insurance windfall.
Rachel Sharp has the full story.
Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 18:20
Final jury selected
Jury selection has now concluded.
Twelve jurors have been seated, along with six alternates.
Opening arguments are expected to follow.
Megan Sheets25 January 2023 18:15
Horror injuries of Alex Murdaugh’s son revealed
Paul Murdaugh was discovered face down shot twice with a shotgun, not the firearm used to kill his mother, the report said.
Initially shot in the chest “from several feet away,” he was still standing and moving towards a door when he was shot in the neck and shoulder. That shot blew his brain out.
“Brain was severed and exited through the anatomical right side of (his) head. … Brain was completely detached from (his) head,” Chief Kenneth Kinsey, an expert at the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office wrote.
Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 18:00
Jury selection in Alex Murdaugh murder trial began on Monday
Jeffrey Collins, who covers South Carolina for the Associated Press, explains that 900 potential jurors were sent summons for the case.
Over three days of jury selection, a pool of more than 120 potential jurors were slowly whittled down.
From there, 80 were brought to court Wednesday morning to select the final panel of 12, plus six alternates.
The area where Alex Murdaugh is standing trial is sometimes known as Murdaugh Country, such is the prominence of their legal dynasty.
Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 17:45
Alex Murdaugh’s son Paul sent Snapchat video to friends on the night he was murdered
In pre-trial motions filed with the court, prosecutors revealed that Paul Murdaugh had sent a Snapchat video to a couple of friends just a few minutes before he was murdered.
The judge granted the prosecution’s request to call Snapchat and Google staff to testify at the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.
Full story below.
Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 17:30
Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace
He was a high-powered attorney who ran both his own law firm and worked in the local prosecutor’s office.
He was the son of a powerful legal dynasty that dominated a local South Carolina community for almost a century.
And he was a family man with a wife and two adult sons living on a vast country estate.
But over the last 13 months, Murdaugh has had a spectacular fall from grace, culminating in him now being charged with the savage double murder of his wife and son.
The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more.
Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 17:15