Alex Murdaugh is greeted by protestor waving ‘justice coming soon’ sign as he arrives at court
Alex Murdaugh was today greeted by a protestor waving a ‘justice coming soon’ as he arrived for the final showdown in his double murder trial to hear closing arguments before the jury are sent to reach their verdict.
After sitting through more than a month of testimony, jurors this morning visited the family’s hunting estate to see the exact spot where Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were shot dead, in Moselle, South Carolina, on the night of June 7, 2021.
The disgraced legal scion, 54, was seen getting out of the black prison van with his blazer draped over his handcuffs shortly after 11.30am. Reverend Raymond Johnson of Myrtle Beach watched on with his placard, telling DailyMail.com he ‘wants to see justice done … a wife and son have been torn from their family and community.’
In what is anticipated to be a dramatic day of heated closing arguments, the State will first allege that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from his financial crimes.
The defense will say it is simply not believable that a ‘loving’ father and husband could so brutally murder Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22. Murdaugh, who faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted, took the stand last week to claim vigilantes angry over his son’s fatal boat wreck killed the pair.
Alex Murdaugh arrived at court today greeted by a protestor waving a ‘justice coming soon sign’ as he arrived for the final showdown in his double murder trial to hear closing arguments before the jury are sent to reach their verdict
Maggie, Paul, Alex and Buster Murdaugh with their dog Bubba in a new family photo obtained by DailyMail.com
Prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh committed the murders in an effort to generate sympathy at a time when his life was collapsing amid allegations that he had stolen huge sums from clients and his law partners, partly to feed a drug habit. They have painted him as a serial liar throughout the trial.
The case has drawn intense media coverage given the family’s immense judicial and political power in and around Colleton County, where the trial is taking place. For decades until 2006, family members served as the leading prosecutor in the area, and Murdaugh was a prominent personal injury attorney in the state.
In addition to the murders, Murdaugh has been charged with dozens of financial crimes, including an alleged scheme to have himself killed so that his older son, Buster, could collect a $10 million insurance payout. During the trial, Murdaugh admitted to stealing from clients and his law firm.
Murdaugh’s lawyers have sought to portray him as a loving family man who, while facing financial troubles and suffering from a years-long addiction to opioids that led him to lie and steal, would never harm his wife and child.
Last week Murdaugh testified that he had lied about his whereabouts on the night the killings, changing his account after the jury was presented with video evidence placing him at the scene minutes before investigators say the murders occurred.
Murdaugh said he lied to investigators about his alibi that night because of paranoid thoughts tied to his drug habit and because he did not trust the police.
Earlier the 12 jurors and two alternates were loaded into three transport vans with blacked-out windows and were guarded by a convoy of cop cars as they made the half-hour trip from the Colleton County courthouse to Moselle, South Carolina.
Judge Clifton Newman rode in a pickup truck driven by Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jason Chapman. Chapman testified on the first day of the trial as one of the first cops on the scene the night of Maggie and Paul’s murders.
The outing comes at the request of Murdaugh’s defense attorneys who told the judge the visit would would allow jurors to see ‘how small the feed room is (where Paul was killed)’ and understand its location in relation to Maggie’s body.
The visit lasted an hour and 15 minutes and jurors will now hear closing arguments before being sent out to reach their verdict.
Crime scene visits by juries are relatively rare but have occurred in a number of other high-profile prosecutions, including the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
Legal experts warned the move was ‘a big risk’. On the one hand it could garner sympathy for the alleger killer by showing jurors where his family lived – but they may also see that it was possible him to have committed the murders.
Murdaugh is flanked by sheriff’s as he arrives at the court Wednesday morning
Murdaugh is escorted into the court for the final showdown in his trial Wednesday
The disgraced legal scion, 54, was seen getting out of the black prison van with his blazer draped over his handcuffs shortly after 11.30am Wednesday
A sheriff escorts Murdaugh into the court as droves of photographers wait outside the court
The Jury heading to 4147 Moselle Rd, the site of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s murders
Cops outside the courthouse this morning as the jurors were loaded up for the trip to Moselle
The lawyers joined the jurors on the half-hour trip to the estate
Lori Murray, a South Carolina criminal defense attorney, told DailyMail.com: ‘The defense wants the jury to be able to use all their senses to take this crime scene in.
‘It’s one thing to have pictures and graphs but quite another to be there in person. At the crime scene, the jury can see the house, the expanse of land, and the kennels.
‘They can judge just how close these two murders occurred and the distance from the house and perhaps instead of seeing the murders, they’ll hear Alex’s and John Marvin’s words and see where a family lived.
‘Or they’ll see how clearly possible it was for one person, Alex, to commit these murders. A big risk for the defense.’
The jury were seen walking the narrow path between the kennels where Paul was blasted with a shotgun and the lean-to where Maggie was killed with a rifle.
One juror was spotted standing inside the feed room looking up at the doorway which has been the subject of gruesome testimony. Paul’s brains and blood were splattered up the door after his head was blown off by buckshot.
Judge Newman was with them, standing still, looking down. He was in street clothes. Some of the deputies on watch while the jurors tour are some of the key witnesses in the case, including Detective Laura Rutland, who sat in on Murdaugh’s first interview with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent David Owen in the early hours of June 8, 2021.
They were parked that night in SLED Special Agent Owen’s SUV to get out of the rain.
Maggie’s body was found a few yards to the right of a doghouse, while Paul’s was by the doorway at the end of the kennels
Murdaugh claims he was at the main house watching TV at the time the State says Maggie and Paul were shot dead
The feed room (right) where Paul was killed at the end of the row of dog cages at the kennels
Maggie was shot dead a few yards to the right of the dog house by the lean-to while Paul was shot dead inside the feed room of the kennels (back right)
The quail pen stands against the wooden wall under the lean-to which was struck by a round from the .300 Blackout rifle that killed Maggie
The kennels at the 1,800-acre Murdaugh hunting estate around a half-hour drive from the courthouse where his double murder trial is taking place
The jury spent the bulk of their time at the kennels and the shed where Maggie and Paul were killed. Towards the end of the visit, the jury were taken to the main house for a view of the exterior. They were not allowed inside.
Judge Newman warned the jury they are not to confer with each other or ask questions of anybody at the scene. ‘If you have any questions you can only ask me,’ the judge said last night.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian requested that law enforcement secure the property beforehand because ‘literally dozens of trespassers’ have been mobbing the grounds to take selfies.
He told the judge that the jury needed to be protected from the ‘carnival atmosphere’ of trial enthusiasts who have been at the estate throughout the trial.
Cops descended on the estate yesterday in anticipation for a jury visit in the afternoon, but the final witness ran on too long and the trip was delayed until this morning.
Lead state prosecutor Creighton Waters objected to the jury outing, arguing the estate looked different than it did in 2021 and said a visit might require additional testimony from the state.
Nearly three decades earlier, jurors in the Simpson trial toured the scene where prosecutors alleged that he killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Jurors saw the spot where Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman’s bloodied bodies were found on the walkway leading up to her Brentwood condominium.
Prosecutor Marcia Clark said at the time that taking jurors to see the narrow, confined walkway would show ‘the reason why one person could accomplish this, and how the victims were cornered.’
Buster Murdaugh arrives with his girlfriend Brooklynn White and followed by Alex’s sister Lynn
Buster Murdaugh and his girlfriend Brooklynn White arrive with Alex’s sister Lynn and brother John Marvin on Tuesday
Simpson was acquitted of the killings but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil suit.
The State says Murdaugh first blasted Paul twice with a shotgun in the feed room of the kennels before shooting Maggie with a .300 Blackout rifle yards away.
Jurors have heard gruesome evidence of how Paul’s brain was blown out the back of his head by a close range blast of steel buckshot from a 12-gauge shotgun.
Maggie was shot at least four times, with bullet wounds to her thigh, wrist, torso and head. The final shot was fired into the back of her head as she lay face down on the ground when she was already dead.
During his testimony, Murdaugh floated his own theory of who committed the murders, saying he believed that vigilantes killed his wife and son in revenge for Paul’s drunken boat accident which killed a 19-year-old girl.
He said Paul had been attacked and threatened after the wreck in which Mallory Beach was killed in February 2019.