Alex Murdaugh’s verdict could have been very different – if it wasn’t for a juror with a dozen eggs
The verdict in Alex Murdaugh’s high-profile double murder trial could have turned out to be very different – if it hadn’t been for the actions of a juror with a dozen eggs.
The once-powerful legal dynasty heir was convicted on Thursday of shooting dead his wife Maggie and son Paul in a heinous crime at the family’s 1,700-acre Moselle estate in Islandton, South Carolina, back on 7 June 2021.
The panel of 12 jurors deliberated for less than three hours before they unanimously found him guilty of all charges – two counts of murder and two weapons charges.
But the removal of a juror just hours before the deliberations got underway could have changed the course of the convicted killer’s fate, according to an insider.
On Thursday morning, before the defence’s closing statement in Colleton County Courthouse, Judge Clifton Newman announced that a female juror was being removed from the panel for discussing the case with at least three other people.
The judge said that he had received a complaint a few days earlier from a member of the public saying that the juror had discussed the case with multiple people not on the jury panel.
Following an investigation – which involved interviews with both the juror, who denied any wrongdoing, and the individuals she was accused of speaking to – Judge Newman said that it was determined that the woman had spoken to at least three people about the case. She had also given her opinion about the evidence she had seen in the case.
After telling the defence and prosecution his decision in the courtroom, Judge Newman brought the juror in and told her she was being removed.
The woman then prompted some light-hearted relief in the courtroom when she was asked if she had left anything in the jury room.
“A dozen eggs,” she replied.
This sparked laughter from Judge Newman, the defence and the prosecution – and even Murdaugh – as court staff were instructed to go and collect her eggs from the jury room to return to her.
Source told FITS News that this juror had already indicated that she would have found Murdaugh not guilty – and that she could not be swayed in her decision.
“She was dug in. She said he was ‘not guilty’ and there was nothing anyone could do to change her mind,” a source told the local outlet.
Another added that she would have “hung the jury”.
In South Carolina, the verdict in a case must be unanimous – and so the juror’s misconduct and last minute removal may well have changed the entire outcome of the trial.
While it is unclear whether the defence had an inkling about how the juror could have voted, Murdaugh’s defence attorney Dick Harpootlian did complain to the judge when she was ousted from the panel.
He complained that the juror issue was handled by SLED, including one of the agents who has been a witness in the case.
“It is muddled,” he said of the investigation being led by SLED.
“SLED has made another bad judgment in this case. This is just a continuum of a calamity of errors.”
The revelation comes as one of the 12 jurors who did seal Murdaugh’s fate spoke out for the first time.
Craig Moyer told ABC News that Murdaugh’s lack of remorse, crocodile tears and the damning cellphone video captured by Paul minutes before his murder convinced the panel of his guilt.
“I didn’t see any true remorse or any compassion or anything,” he said, adding that the disgraced attorney came across like “a big liar”.
Mr Moyer said that he “was certain it was [Murdaugh’s] voice” from the very first time the kennel video was played in the courtroom.
“Everybody else could hear [Murdaugh’s voice] too,” said the carpenter from Colleton County.
Mr Moyer said that he locked eyes with Murdaugh in the courtroom as the video was played and described the killer’s demeanour as like “he knew what was coming”.
Key to the prosecution’s case was a damning cellphone video which placed Murdaugh at the scene of the murders.
The video, taken by Paul on his cellphone at 8.44pm, filmed a dog inside the kennels on the grounds of the Moselle estate.
Off-camera, three voices are heard: Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.
During dramatic testimony, multiple witnesses identified Murdaugh’s voice in the footage.
Minutes later – at around 8.50pm – Maggie and Paul were brutally gunned down.
The bombshell video not only placed Murdaugh at the scene – but also exposed his lies about his alibi that night.
Since the 7 June 2021 murders, he had claimed that he had never gone to the dog kennels with his wife and son that night.
He claimed that he had stayed at the family home, napped on the couch and then driven to visit his mother at his parents’ home in Almeda.
When he drove home, he claimed he went down to the kennels, placing a dramatic 911 call claiming to have discovered the bodies of the two victims.
In a dramatic two days in the courtroom, Murdaugh finally confessed that he had spent the last 20 months lying about his alibi that night.
The convicted killer took the stand in his own defence and admitted for the first time that he was there at the kennels with the two victims that night – and that he had lied to law enforcement officials investigating the case, his family members and close friends and colleagues for the best part of two years.
Despite confessing to lying, Murdaugh continued to plead his innocence in Maggie and Paul’s murders.
Yet, Murdaugh’s confession over the kennel video further cemented his guilt, Mr Moyer told ABC, saying it was that monent that he knew for definite where his vote lay.
Murdaugh appeared stony faced as the guilty verdicts were read out in the deafeningly silent court on Thursday evening, before he was led out in handcuffs.
The disgraced legal dynasty heir – whose family once dominated the legal system in the lowcountry – will be sentenced in Colleton County Courthouse on Friday.
The sentencing will begin at 9.30am ET with victim impact statements expected to be read out in court.
He faces 30 years to life in prison on each of the murder charges and five years on each weapons charge. Sentences can be served concurrently – or consecutively.
Prosecutors are seeking the maximum penalty of life after taking the death penalty off the table.
Judge Clifton Newman has not indicated how he plans to sentence Murdaugh, but did say after the verdict was delivered that the evidence was “overwhelming”.
Mr Moyer said he will return to court on Friday to see the man he convicted of murder be sentenced for his crimes.
“I want to see it. It’s a decision I have to live with,” he said.
Back on 7 June 2021, Maggie and Paul were gunned down on the family’s 1,700-acre estate.
Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels – the second shot to his head blowing his brain almost entirely out of his skull.
After killing Paul, prosecutors said Murdaugh then grabbed a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle and opened fire on Maggie as she tried to flee from her husband.
She was shot five times including twice in the head after she had fallen to her knees.
Buster – who has stood by his father throughout the trial and testified in his defence – gave little reaction as his father’s conviction was returned, before rubbing his eyes momentarily.
Prosecutors said that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from his string of financial crimes – at a time when his multi-million-dollar fraud scheme was on the brink of being exposed.
Murdaugh’s conviction marks the latest twist in the saga of the man who was once the powerful heir to a South Carolina legal dynasty.
His family had reigned over the local justice system for almost a century, with three generations of the family all serving as the solicitor in the 14th Judicial Circuit solicitor’s office.
Murdaugh continued with the family tradition working in the local prosecutor’s office and also at the law firm PMPED, which was founded by his grandfather.
The murders of Maggie and Paul shocked the Hampton County community but also brought to light a series of scandals surrounding Murdaugh including a multi-million dollar fraud scheme, a botched hitman plot and some unexplained deaths.