The double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, a former South Carolina lawyer, began on Monday at the Colleton County Courthouse.
Murdaugh is accused of murdering his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, at the family’s hunting estate on June 7, 2021. The trial is expected to be a challenge as the Murdaugh name is well-known in the area and the jury pool is small. Alex Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served as solicitors for South Carolina’s 14th judicial circuit.
According to the indictment, Maggie was killed with a rifle and Paul with a shotgun. The prosecution states that Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son as a result of the stress caused by his escalating legal issues. On the day of the murders, individuals at Murdaugh’s law firm confronted him about financial irregularities within the company.
Additionally, Paul Murdaugh was being sued over a drunk boating crash that killed the girlfriend of one of his friends and Alex Murdaugh was being told he had to produce financial documents related to that lawsuit.
The murders prompted law enforcement to take a closer look at Alex Murdaugh and his family. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) initiated multiple investigations into financial misconduct linked to Murdaugh and those associated with him. In a civil case, Murdaugh has confessed to embezzling millions of dollars from an insurance payout after the death of his long-time housekeeper and nanny.
A four-page questionnaire was given to potential jurors to simplify the process of selecting a jury. The questionnaire asks typical questions such as where the prospective juror gets their news and whether they watch “true crime” or “police procedural” shows. However, Murdaugh’s name is not mentioned once in the questionnaire.
Jury consultant, Alan Turkheimer, stated that selecting a jury will be a challenge as “Jurors, everybody for that matter, are not necessarily good at knowing how biased they are.”
- Eric Bland, an attorney representing the sons of the woman Murdaugh misappropriated money from, believes the double murder trial case will be a challenge for prosecutors and that there is a good likelihood of a hung jury.