BLOG: Day 1 of jury selection wraps in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 3:00 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 23, 2023 at 7:51 PM EST
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WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Groups of potential jurors filled the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro on Monday as jury selection began for the trial of Alex Murdaugh.

Murdaugh will be tried for two counts of murder and two weapons charges in the June 7, 2021, shooting deaths of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and their youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh.

Jury selection began Monday morning. Newman reversed an earlier decision to allow video from the court to be broadcast during the jury selection process, but the court is allowing audio from the live proceeding to be broadcast.

LIVE BLOG: The latest developments below:

The first group of around 80 prospective jurors was whittled down to 31 after a round of questioning by Judge Clifton Newman.

A second group began with fewer members and was soon taken down to around 40. Three more were later dismissed, one for being employed at a connected law enforcement agency, one for being related to a potential witness and a third with charges who told the judge he would find it difficult to remain impartial.

Around 5:15 p.m., Newman began the questioning of the third jury pool of the day. The pool saw the highest number of exemptions granted with 17, another 13 had their jury service transferred to a later date. Eight others were dismissed from the group.

The third pool was left with around 30 jurors with some of the prospective jurors asked to meet with Newman and attorneys in private.

As proceedings wrapped up for group three, Newman told the remaining jurors that they would be called back either late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

One more pool of jurors is expected to be questioned Tuesday morning.

As jurors were questioned, the first hint of potential witnesses in the case came to light.

Among those listed as potential witnesses included members of the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Notable in their inclusion to the potential witness list were Alex’s son Buster Murdaugh, John Marvin Murdaugh, Liz Murdaugh and members of Maggie’s family.

Former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte was also among those named as a potential witness.

Murdaugh’s defense team, attorneys Jim Griffin and state Sen. Dick Harpootlian, released a joint statement Sunday night on the eve of the trial, stating that they would not provide any further statements or responses to anything that occurs during the trial “in order to preserve the integrity of the trial process.”

“We are fully prepared to challenge the State’s allegations, and to demonstrate the weaknesses in the State’s case before a Colleton County jury,” the statement read. “Alex looks forward to this opportunity to clear his name of these heinous charges so that the Attorney General can finally begin looking for the actual killer or killers of Alex’s beloved wife and son.”

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Murdaugh told investigators he discovered the bodies of his wife and son at the family’s hunting property in the Islandton community of rural Colleton County after he returned from visiting his ailing father.

The investigation into their killings took many twists and turns with Murdaugh being indicted on scores of financial crime charges. A Colleton County jury indicted him on the murder charges in July of last year, more than a year after the killings.

Maggie Murdaugh and her son, Paul, were shot to death at their family property in rural...
Maggie Murdaugh and her son, Paul, were shot to death at their family property in rural Colleton County on June 7. Alex Murdaugh, (right), was charged with the killings in July of 2022.(Provided)

The indictments alleged he allegedly used two different weapons, a rifle on his wife and a shotgun on his son.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges and has maintained his innocence.

“The evidence, in this case, is substantial and it all points to Alex Murdaugh,” Chief Attorney Creighton Waters said.

The trial is expected to last approximately three weeks, about three times longer than most murder trials in the state.

Jury selection could last for most of this first week.