On the night time that Alex Murdaugh’s spouse and son can be fatally shot on the grounds of their rural property in Colleton County, South Carolina, the 22-year-old despatched out a video on Snapchat to a number of associates.
What the video incorporates has not but been disclosed publicly, however prosecutors say its existence is a “crucial” side of the double homicide trial in opposition to Murdaugh, 54, a once-prominent lawyer accused of killing his spouse Margaret, 52, and their youthful son, Paul, on June 7, 2021. The trial continued Tuesday with jury choice.
Among the prosecution’s proof within the case — and what can and cannot be offered in the course of the trial — have to be decided by Circuit Court docket Choose Clifton Newman, as Murdaugh’s protection group filed motions Monday in search of to dam a few of the state’s skilled witness testimony.
Court docket officers spent the primary day of jury choice going via about 700 jury summonses, and Newman on Tuesday decided 123 certified jurors to select from to make up the jury of 12 plus six alternates. The protection urged that opening statements may start as early as Wednesday afternoon.
Newman has already ordered representatives from Snapchat, in addition to Google, to be subpoenaed to testify on the trial to attest to proof on digital gadgets.
The Snapchat video was despatched by Paul to his associates at 7:56 p.m., in keeping with courtroom paperwork, simply over two hours earlier than Murdaugh would inform a 911 dispatcher that he discovered his spouse and son lifeless.
Neither tech firm responded to requests for remark Tuesday.
Apart from potential digital proof, forensics can also play a key half in the course of the trial.
However within the newest filings by Murdaugh’s attorneys, his protection group is in search of to get the courtroom to refuse to confess proof that authorities stated will present blood from Paul spattered on his father’s shirt. The protection contends that the shirt was destroyed earlier than they might take a look at it and so they stated there’s proof the skilled inspecting the shirt modified his conclusions beneath strain from state brokers.
Prosecutors additionally stated on the December listening to that there might be issues with the blood spatter work. They have not commented on the topic in courtroom papers or within the courtroom since then.
The protection’s filings make clear points of the crime scene that weren’t beforehand made public. They embrace that Margaret had 5 completely different gunshot wounds, together with behind the top, from a semi-automatic rifle, whereas Paul was shot twice with a shotgun, within the chest and shoulder.
There’s DNA from the victims on Murdaugh’s shirt, however his protection stated that was the results of coming into contact with their our bodies, which had been mendacity close to canine kennels on the property.
“The homicide scene was grotesque; there was a considerable amount of blood on and round their our bodies which transferred onto Mr. Murdaugh’s fingers and clothes when he frantically checked them for indicators of life,” in keeping with the submitting.
There is no such thing as a indication that the homicide weapons had been recovered on the scene.
Throughout a motions listening to held Tuesday in response to the protection group’s filings, prosecutors agreed they’d not tackle blood spatter proof throughout opening statements and would decide whether or not to make use of such skilled testimony in the course of the trial.
Prosecutors are anticipated at trial to put out why they imagine Murdaugh killed his spouse and son. On the December listening to, they allege he dedicated the murders in a determined try to achieve sympathy earlier than a string of alleged monetary crimes surfaced publicly. They accuse Murdaugh of scheming and stealing about $8.5 million from greater than a dozen victims, together with via his household’s agency and from shoppers. He has but to face trial or enter a plea on these prices.
An lawyer for Murdaugh stated in the course of the motions listening to Tuesday that the state’s allegations defy logic.
Murdaugh “knew the jig was up, so he went house and butchered, blew the top off his son and butchered his spouse. There’s not one shred of proof there have been any issues between any of them,” protection lawyer Richard “Dick” Harpootlian stated, including, “It is a fabrication described as dangerous character proof: He stole all this cash so he will need to have killed his spouse and son.”
His attorneys have additionally stated he had an alibi on the night time of the killings and that he was spending time along with his mom, who has dementia, and her caregiver.
Greater than 250 potential witnesses might be referred to as in the course of the trial, which may final a couple of weeks. They embrace members of the Murdaugh household, together with one other son, Buster, in addition to Curtis Edward Smith, the person who authorities allege Murdaugh employed to kill him in September 2021 in order that Buster may accumulate on a $10 million life insurance coverage coverage on his father.
The Related Press contributed.