Murdaugh’s double murder trial jury will today be escorted to visit the crime scene
Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial jury are visiting the legal scion’s hunting estate this morning to see the exact spot where his wife and son were executed.
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.
The half-hour trip to the sprawling 1,800-acre estate in Moselle, South Carolina, will be followed by closing arguments before the jury are sent to reach their verdict at the Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro.
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 (where Paul was killed) is’ and understand its location in relation to Maggie’s body.
Judge Clifton Newman told jurors that he would be there, along with lawyers from both sides. He 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.
Alex Murdaugh ‘s hunting estate was locked down Tuesday in preparation for a jury viewing which was then delayed until Wednesday morning
Murdaugh weeps as he listens to graphic testimony from the pathologist on Tuesday about how Paul’s head was blown off by a shotgun
Paul, Maggie, Alex and Buster Murdaugh attend a dinner at the Carolina Yacht Club. Buster was staying with his girlfriend near Charlotte at the time of the killings
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.
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.
But the judge overruled the prosecutor, stating that as well as jurors, lawyers from both sides could be there. The press are only allowed to attend the site after the jury’s visit has concluded.
Addressing jurors last night, Judge Newman said: ‘When you return tomorrow morning you are going to have an escort take you all to the subject property, Moselle, to have a view of the location’.
‘I will be there as well to ensure things go as they should,’ he added.
Newman said that the jury would leave before 9.30am and predicted that the court would be back in session by 11am.
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.’
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.
Law enforcement officers, fire department and members of the court entering the property Tuesday at 4147 Moselle Rd, the site of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s murders
Law enforcement officials and fire department personnel lock down the entrance to the kennels on Tuesday
Fire department personnel lockdown the kennels at the estate Tuesday
Fire department trucks and law enforcement vehicles descended on the scene this afternoon
Law enforcement officials at the scene this afternoon
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
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. Overgrown vegetation is seen covering the driveway of the main entrance to the estate
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.
Jurors today heard further argument from the State’s forensic pathologist Dr Ellen Riemer who refuted the defense expert’s two-shooter theory.
Defense pathologist, Timothy Palmbach, yesterday argued that the exit wound to the back of Paul’s head was, in fact, an entrance wound. He theorized that the muzzle of the shotgun was pressed against the 22-year-old’s head.
Palmbach stated that the force of the gasses from the shot would have forced blood, brains, fragments of skull and pellets back out through the entrance wound, covering the shooter.
He claimed that the shooter would have been at the very least blinded by the blood and possibly injured by fragments of skull and pellet in the blowback.
State pathologist Riemer said that if the 12-gauge shotgun had been pressed against the back of Paul’s head the damage would have been so catastrophic his eyes would have been blown out of their sockets.
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 main house at the hunting estate where Murdaugh claims he was watching TV at the time the State says Maggie and Paul were shot dead. The main house is around 400 yards away from the kennels
She said the entry wound was below the 22-year-old’s left ear and that the buckshot pellets passed out of the back of his head.
Riemer told jurors: ‘I know what you saw was absolutely awful but the damage would have been a lot worse. The sides of his head would have gone, his entire face would have been split open, because there’s no way all of that gas expansion could have occurred and not caused fractures of these delicate bones in the face, his forehead was even still there.’
Riemer told jurors that despite the horrific injuries that they had seen in the photos of Paul’s head – his brain was totally severed from his skull – these would have been far worse had the gun been pressed against the back of his head.
‘I understand that this was probably like the most severe thing you have ever seen and you probably can’t imagine that the damage to the head could be any worse,’ the pathologist said.
‘But a contact shotgun wound to the head with the associated gas expansion to the skull would not have you know – his face was basically intact – we would have heard about tears of the skin and his eyes would have been displaced from the orbital bones. The orbital bones were intact.’
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
Riemer was called to the stand as a rebuttal witness Tuesday after the defense rested its case Monday.
The defense pathologist Palmbach yesterday told jurors that Paul’s killer would have been incapacitated after firing into the back of his head.
Palmbach explained that ‘the explosive release of the gas trapped in [Paul’s] cranium’ would have forced blood, tissue, brain matter, fragments of skull and shot pellets back out through the entry wound, covering the shooter.
‘I think the shooter is, at least for some brief period of time, kind of out of it. It’s not as if they can instantly suffer that, run to where the rifle is, pick that up and within any reasonable time period engage in an effective assault, shoot straight and make hits,’ the pathologist said.
‘I believe the individual who shot first, probably with blood in his eyes and maybe been injured, would have taken some degree of time to recover.’