WSAV will be streaming all throughout the Alex Murdaugh murder trial. Follow investigative reporters @WSAVAndrewD and @BrettWSAV for live tweets and keep up with the trial via our live blogs on wsav.com. Tune in to News 3 at 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. for full coverage.
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) – Jury selection continued for a second day Tuesday, along with motion hearings, in the double murder trial of disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh.
He’s charged with murder in the June 2021 killings of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, who were found shot to death near dog kennels at the family’s Colleton County hunting property.
The fourth and final panel of potential jurors was asked a series of qualifying questions to determine whether they could maintain impartial judgment, including where they work, relationships with the family or potential witnesses and criminal history.
There will be a total of 122 people to choose from to narrow down to 12 jurors and six alternates. Those will be chosen through a final jury selection starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday afternoon, the focus switched to pre-trial motions. The most contentious one — prosecutors said Murdaugh was “feeling the heat” when it came to his alleged financial crime spree. His law firm wanted to know where hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees were, and he was about to be forced to disclose his own monetary situation just days after the murders of his wife and son.
The defense believes these claims don’t hold up in court — or anywhere else.
“There’s not one shred of evidence that there was any problems between any of them. There’s texts, pictures, people that were with them from the previous weekend at a ball game, video from that day with Paul and he having a good time,” said Dick Harpootlian, one of Murdaugh’s defense lawyers.
Meanwhile, ballistics expert Paul Greer will be allowed to testify on the fact that shell casings found near Maggie’s body matched others found around the family’s hunting property.
Opening arguments in the case could start as soon as Wednesday afternoon following the final jury selection.
ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
9 a.m. – Alex Murdaugh arrived at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina for the second day of jury selection.
9:46 a.m. – Court gavels into session. Judge Clifton Newman welcomed the fourth and final panel of prospective jurors. Alex Murdaugh stood to greet the panel as Judge Newman read his charges and reminded the panel that Murdaugh pleaded not guilty and is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
9:50 a.m. – The clerk began with roll call, asking each juror preliminary questions.
10:10 a.m. – Judge Newman began asking jurors questions that would disqualify or exempt them from jury service, such as whether they are residents of the county, have any criminal convictions, have previously served within the past year, etc. Several jurors were dismissed, exempt, or excused.
10:25 a.m. – Judge Newman told potential jurors that the trial could last “three weeks or so.”
10:30 a.m. – Judge Newman moved to questions specific to the case.
He asked anyone who had read, seen, or heard anything about the case or Murdaugh to stand. Several jurors stood. He asked where they got their information and jurors responded with a mix of news, podcasts, the internet, social media, and word of mouth.
10:43 a.m. – Judge Newman asks potential jurors to stand if they can remain impartial and can decide the case based on the law and evidence. At least 14 people said no and were dismissed.
10:52 a.m. – Judge asks if any jurors are related by blood or marriage or social acquaintance. At least one juror was excused.
10:59 a.m. – Judge questions potential jurors if they have any connection, either by employment or representation, to the PMPED law firm. He asks if they have attended any events hosted by the law firm or Murdaugh associates.
11:01 a.m. – Judge Newman asks if they have any connections to Alex Murdaugh or his family. No one stood.
11:03 a.m. – Jurors are asked about connections to a list of nearly 100 possible witnesses in the trial.
A list of potential witnesses was given. Some highlights include, but are not limited to:
- Members or representatives from the following agencies: Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, Colleton County Dispatch, Colleton County Fire Rescue, SLED, US Secret Service, Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Hampton County Sheriff’s Office, Hampton County EMS, South Carolina Highway Patrol, SCAG Office, Savannah Memorial Hospital representatives/doctors.
- Blood spatter expert contracted by the state Tom Bevel, former SLED officer now with Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Kenneth Kinsey (a forensic expert who analyzed the crime scene).
- Members of the Laffitte family, owners of Palmetto State Bank: Russel Laffitte (who was convicted on several financial crimes connected to Murdaugh), Charles Laffitte II, Charles Laffitte III, Norris Laffitte, Henry Laffitte, Rebecca Laffitte, Elizabeth Laffitte Malinowski. Former Palmetto State Bank VP Chad Westendorf.
- Attorneys involved in other cases against Murdaugh: Mark Tinsley (boat crash) and Eric Bland (Satterfield, victims of financial crimes).
- Members of Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED: Ronnie Crosby and John Parker.
- Curtis Eddie Smith, who Murdaugh allegedly hired to shoot him in a botched suicide attempt to secure a life insurance payout for his only living son, Buster.
- Other alleged victims of Murdaugh: Morgan Doughty, Michael Tony Satterfield, Arthur Badger, Pamela Pinckney, and Natarsha Thomas.
- Members of Murdaugh’s family: Randy Murdaugh, Buster Murdaugh, John Marvin Murdaugh, and Liz Murdaugh.
- Members of the Branstetter and Proctor families (Margaret’s side).
Jurors were asked if they have any relation to any prospective witnesses.
11:19 a.m. – Judge Newman dismissed most of the fourth and final jury panel, excluding some he asked to stay back, until 11 a.m. Wednesday morning. Tomorrow, the court will condense the four panels reviewed into one pool. 12 jurors and 6 alternates will be selected.
2:20 p.m. – The court is expected to resume with motions hearings on key evidence.
The denial of expert testimony and evidence connected to blood spatter, gunshot residue and forensics will be discussed, as well as whether the prosecution can use Murdaugh’s financial crimes as a motive for the murders.
2:38 p.m. – Prosecutors said that they met with the defense and decided not to address blood spatter evidence during opening statements. They plan to address whether testimony from a blood spatter expert will be allowed at a later point in the case. The defense agreed, saying that when that time comes, they will request a counsel hearing to determine what is permitted.
3:05 p.m. – Paul Greer, a forensics expert, is called to the stand.
3:30 p.m. – Judge Newman calls for a brief break.
3:38 p.m. – Court resumes.
3:56 p.m. – Defense questioned Greer about his role in this specific case. They asked about the 300 Blackout gun found at the home that Greer tested. Greer said that he was unable to determine if that gun was the gun that fired the casings found at the crime scene. However, he did find it to be an apparent match to other casings found around the property. He also said that the casings at the crime scene and those found around the property appeared to show similar markings indicating that they had been, at some point, cycled through the same weapon (cycled does not necessarily mean fired).
4:30 p.m. – Greer’s testimony concluded. Prosecution argued that Greer established he was a credible witness and that his findings should be admissible before the jury.
4:40 p.m. – Judge Newman ruled that the ballistics evidence and Greer’s testimony be admitted.
4:45 p.m. – Court adjourned for the day and is expected to resume Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. with jury selection.