Alex Murdaugh trial jury to visit scene of wife and son’s murders
The jury in Alex Murdaugh’s high-profile murder trial will visit the scene where his wife Maggie and son Paul were brutally gunned down in the summer of 2021.
Judge Clifton Newman agreed on Monday to send the panel on a jury visit to the Murdaugh family’s sprawling 1,700-acre Moselle estate before they decide the fate of the disgraced legal scion and accused killer.
As part of the visit, jurors will tour the dog kennels and the feed room where Mr Murdaugh is accused of shooting dead his wife and son back on 7 June 2021.
Paul was shot twice with a shotgun as he stood in the feed room of the kennels, with the second bullet blowing his brain from its skull.
Maggie was shot four to five times with an AR-15-style rifle a few yards from her son, as she backed into an ATV parked under a hangar.
The visit came at the request of Mr Murdaugh’s defence attorny Dick Harpootlian who asked the judge to put the suggestion to a jury vote as proceedings got under way in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Monday morning.
“We believe it would be useful for the jury to see Moselle,” he said.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said that he didn’t agree that it should be left to the jury to decide whether or not to visit the crime scene.
He also raised an objection that the property has changed in the last 20 months, with trees between the family home and the kennels having grown significantly.
Judge Newman said he would not put the matter to a jury vote but – at the defence’s request – agreed to arrange the field trip to Moselle.
During the courtroom discussion, Mr Harpootlian also raised concerns around the need for security for the trip after he claimed people had been caught trespassing on the property at the weekend.
He said that Mr Murdaugh’s brother called law enforcement to remove trespassers from Moselle as he noticed people taking selfies in front of the feed room where the brutal murders unfolded.
“There were literally dozens of people at Moselle last weekend trespassing, taking selfies in front of the feed room,” he said, condemning the “carnival attitude” of some members of the public.
The visit is expected to take place sometime later this week as the trial – which has captured attention across America – draws to a close.
The defence is expected to rest its case on Monday, after calling its final few witnesses to the stand in an effort to convince the panel of jurors that the disgraced legal scion did not murder his wife and son.
The prosecution will then begin its rebuttal case, before closing arguments begin as soon as Wednesday.
If both sides stick to this rough schedule, jurors could begin deliberations mid-week and the accused killer could know his fate before the week is out.
Mr Murdaugh is facing life in prison for the murders of Maggie and Paul and has pleaded not guilty.
In a dramatic two days in court last week, Mr Murdaugh took the witness stand in his own case and confessed to lying about his alibi on the night of the murders.
For the past 20 months, the 54-year-old has denied ever being at the dog kennels with his wife and son on the night of 7 June 2021.
In a bombshell moment, he admitted to lying saying he was “paranoid” in part because of a distrust of SLED and because he was encouraged by his lawyer friends not to speak without an attorney present.
But, during a dramatic cross-examination, prosecutor Creighton Waters appeared to catch him in another lie.
He revealed evidence that Mr Murdaugh had lied about his alibi from the moment that the first officer arrived on the scene, appearing to pour cold water on the reason the accused killer gave for lying.
Prosecutors claim Mr Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from his string of alleged financial crimes – at a time when his multi-million-dollar fraud scheme was on the brink of being exposed.
Jurors heard four weeks of dramatic testimony from the prosecution, covering a trove of circumstantial evidence, including cellphone and car data and numerous apparent holes in his alibi for the time for the murders.
Meanwhile, the defence is seeking to present the alleged killer and financial fraudster as a loving family man who would never have murdered his wife and son. Defence experts have testified about mistakes in the preservation of crime scene evidence and claimed Maggie’s shooter was 5’2” tall – not 6’4” like Mr Murdaugh.
Beyond the murders, the brutal double murders brought to light a series of scandals surrounding Mr Murdaugh including unexplained deaths, a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme and a botched hitman plot.