RECAP: The Murdaugh murder trial, what you need to know before the verdict
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - After six weeks and 27 days the Murdaugh murder trial is preparing to conclude. A Wednesday morning trip brought the jury back to the place where this case began, the Murdaugh family home in Moselle.
Alex Murdaugh stands accused of the June 7, 2021 murders of his wife Maggie, and his son Paul.
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The case attracted attention from across the country as new revelations appeared about the Murdaugh family.
More attention focused on the case after Murdaugh allegedly hired Eddie Curtis Smith to shoot him in September of 2021. Murdaugh admitted to SLED investigators he hired the man to kill him in a botched life insurance scheme for his son Buster. This evidence was also heard in court by the jury.
Alex, a former Lowcountry attorney, is accused of numerous financial crimes. These include stealing from his law firm partners and clients. The inclusion of evidence and testimony about the thefts was debated in court and eventually, the jury heard it after Judge Clifton Newman decided to allow it.
The prosecution argued Murdaugh’s finances were a possible motive for shooting his wife and son. The prosecution called it a ‘gathering storm.’
Jury selection began on Jan. 23, 2023. It ran for several days before the trial began. Jury selection began with a starting pool of over 900 prospective jurors. This was whittled down in a difficult process of finding individuals without knowledge of the high-profile case.
Opening statements began on Jan. 25. Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters laid out an argument claiming Alex shot Paul first with a shotgun, and then Maggie with a rifle moments later. Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian laid out a contradicting story, calling him a loving father and husband.
New revelations from the early portion of the trial included audio and video of Murdaugh. This included the 911 call, SLED interviews with him the night of the murders, and a discussion on whether Murdaugh said, “I did him so bad,” during an interview with police.
A crucial portion of the State’s case revolved around OnStar data and cellphone logs detailing where Murdaugh was and attempting to discredit Murdaugh’s story.
A Snapchat video recorded by Paul at 8:44 p.m. was played before the jury on Feb. 1. The video was created roughly five minutes before he was murdered.
Multiple witnesses identified Murdaugh’s voice in the video, establishing he was at the location. This contradicted his assertion he never visited the kennels where his wife and son were killed. Murdaugh maintained he was napping and went to visit his mother at around 9:00 p.m. that night.
The trial itself had moments of uncertainty, two jurors were dismissed with COVID and the court was evacuated after a bomb threat.
On Day 20, Feb. 17 the prosecution rested.
On Feb. 27 the defense heard from their final witness.
Testimony across the trial included family friends, co-workers, Murdaugh’s brother, sister, and his son Buster alongside forensic experts and law enforcement.
Murdaugh himself took to the stand in his defense for two days. He admitted to lying and stealing and even revealed he’d lied to SLED investigators. However, he maintained that he did not shoot his wife and son. He said his distrust for SLED was amplified by his opioid addiction.
As the trial headed into day 25, it was announced the jury would be allowed to visit the scene of the crimes.
On the morning of March 1, 2023, the jury traveled to the Murdaugh family property in Moselle, the place the case began roughly two years before.
When they returned to the courtroom that afternoon, closing arguments began before the jury would begin to decide the verdict.
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