WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — Monday, Jan. 23 marked the first day of jury selection in the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, a man accused of killing his wife and youngest son over a year ago in Colleton County on the family’s property.
The murder trial has gained national attention and hundreds of reporters and true crime enthusiasts flocked to the small town for day one of the trial.
Jury selection has been a topic of discussion in the past few weeks. Colleton County has a population of only 38,000 people making the pool of candidates small in an already tight-knit community.
On day one, three groups of potential juror candidates were asked a series of basic qualifying questions to determine whether they could maintain impartial judgment including where they work, relationships with the family or potential witnesses, and criminal history.
Dozens of jurors were dismissed due to certain exemptions that prevented them from serving.
Jury selection will continue Tuesday at 9:00 a.m. at the Colleton County Courthouse.
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 blog below. Tune in to News 3 at 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., and 6:00 p.m. for full coverage.
ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
Note: Only an audio feed is available for day 1 of the trial
9:00 a.m. – Before the court gaveled into session, Judge Clifton Newman set media protocols for the jury selection process. It was ruled that no video feed is allowed for jury selection, but as of 9:10 a.m. was still deciding whether reporters would be allowed to have phones in the courtroom.
9:07 a.m. – Alex Murdaugh arrives at the Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro, S.C.
9:30 a.m. – Jury selection begins. No cameras are allowed in the courtroom to protect the identities of potential jurors.
Over 300 members of the press are flooding the small town of Walterboro to cover the trial.
10:00 a.m. – An audio feed of jury selection becomes available. General questions are asked of the jurors like “are you married or single” and “what do you do for a living?”
10:40 a.m. – After asking all potential jurors the basic questions, jurors were asked other questions such as whether they are citizens of the United States and Colleton County, whether they meet certain education requirements, and whether any physical or mental ailments may prevent them from serving.
Some potential jurors were excused.
11 a.m. update:
11:08 a.m. – Judge Newman asked jurors if they had any extenuating circumstances which would make it particularly hard for them to participate in what is expected to be a lengthy trial. Many jurors were transferred to trials that would take less time.
11:15 a.m. – Judge Newman asked questions more specific to the case and the charges.
“If you have heard about this case, read about this case, or know anything about this case, please stand,” Newman said. After getting their juror numbers, Newman said “it appears everyone stood.” He asked them to provide the source of their information, whether that be newspapers, local broadcast stations, social media, podcasts, word of mouth, etc.
Almost everyone said local or national news of some sort, while others also cited other websites, social media, and word of mouth.
Newman then asked based on what they had heard, if they had formed an opinion on the guilt or innocence. Three jurors were dismissed soon after.
11:30 a.m. – Any jurors related to the Murdaughs by blood or marriage were asked to identify themselves. Anyone who was socially acquainted or had a significant other who was related or had a close social relationship was also asked to stand.
Two people stood and one was dismissed.
Judge Newman then asked if any people or their close family had a connection to or had been investigated or prosecuted by SLED, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, or the 14th Circuit Solicitor.
One person said that her fiance was second on the scene the night of the murders.
Jurors were asked if they did have any connections to Murdaugh and could they remain impartial.
12:00 p.m. – Judge Newman lists witnesses who could be called during the trial including Randy Murdaugh, dozens of Colleton County Sheriff’s Office deputies, agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, an FBI agent, hospital staff from Memorial in Savannah, a Secret Service agent and the 911 dispatcher who took the call.
12:12 p.m. – Most prospective jury members were excused for the remainder of the day.
Judge Newman said several other groups of prospective jurors were incoming for selection. Once they weeded some out from those groups, they hoped to put together the final jury pool.
12:57 p.m. – The next group of potential jurors entered the courtroom and court reconvened. Jurors are asked about their employment and marital status.
1:17 p.m. – Four disabled jurors were excused. A break was issued until 2:30 p.m.
Judge Newman asked jurors to please refrain from discussing the case with anyone.
2:40 p.m. – The court reconvened following a lunch break.
2:58 p.m. – After asking some basic qualifying questions to see if there were any conditions that might prevent a juror from serving. Judge Newman dismissed two more jurors.
Several more jurors were released due to certain exemptions that prevented them from serving.
3:02 p.m. – Judge Newman asked the jurors who had heard about the case and if they could identify themselves by standing and calling out their juror numbers.
Jurors who had heard about the case were asked to stand and describe their source of information. Several jurors cited the local news, social media, and documentaries as their source of information surrounding the case.
Judge Newman asked any juror who had already formed an opinion about the case to be excused. Several jurors stood agreeing that they would be unable to fairly judge the case.
Another juror was excused after telling Judge Newman they were personally acquainted with Alex Murdaugh.
3:38 p.m. – Jurors’ personal and professional relationships with parties and potential witnesses involved in the trial were questioned. Some who had those connections felt like they could remain impartial while others said it would affect their decision. Those who said they were unable to remain impartial were excused.
3:50 p.m. – Jurors who were not asked to stay behind to speak with Judge Newman were excused for the remainder of the day.
4 p.m. update:
5 p.m. – Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys filed additional motions to exclude blood splatter testimony as well as the testimony of a ballistics expert.
5:14 p.m. – Judge Newman asked basic qualifying questions for the third time on Monday to determine which jurors may have conditions that prevent them from serving. Several jurors were excused.
5:30 p.m. – Again, Judge Newman asked jurors if they had any prior knowledge of the case and multiple jurors stood up.
Jurors cited their source of information when asked as local news coverage, social media, and word of mouth.
Judge Newman then asked if any jurors had formed an opinion about the guilt or innocence of Alex Murdaugh and two jurors stood. One of those jurors stated that it would impair his ability to make a decision solely based on evidence provided by the court and was dismissed.
Jury selection is underway in the double murder trial of disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh.
The case has made national headlines as the search for answers continues into who killed members of a prominent Lowcountry family.
Murdaugh is 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 state of South Carolina is expected to argue that the murders were to cover up several financial crimes Murdaugh committed by stealing insurance settlements from clients.
Meanwhile, Murdaugh’s attorneys are expected to argue that since the victims were shot with different guns, there had to be a second person involved.
Judge Clifton Newman will preside over the trial. The jury selection process could last between two and five days, with the trial lasting roughly three weeks.
WSAV News 3 will provide extensive coverage of the trial. Follow our live blog or watch it live each day on wsav.com and in the WSAV NOW app.