Jury In Murdaugh Murder Case Granted Visit To Site Of Wife And Son’s Killing

After testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, including Alex Murdaugh, the defense rested its case Monday afternoon, setting the stage for closing arguments later this week.

Jurors will see the crime scene where the former South Carolina lawyer’s wife and younger son were killed before deliberations. On Monday, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman granted the defense team’s “jury view” field excursion to assist jurors in visualizing the testimony.

Defense attorney Richard “Dick” Harpootlian wants the jury to visit Moselle, the family’s rural hunting lodge property where Margaret, 52, and Paul, 22, were found dead near outdoor kennels on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh’s actions that night and whether he had the time and opportunity to shoot his wife and kid have been heavily debated.

“You can’t appreciate the spatial issues without actually seeing them,” Harpootlian said.

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters objected, saying he was hesitant for the jury to examine the property now since the trees separating the residence and the kennels have grown higher and thicker.

Newman said he would tell the jurors before they arrived that “certain things may not be the same as they were two years ago.”

Jury In Murdaugh Murder Case Granted Visit To Site Of Wife And Son's Killing

Once Harpootlian informed him of intruders at the property, approximately 20 miles from the Colleton County courthouse where Murdaugh’s trial is taking place, he stated law enforcement would escort the jury.

“There were dozens of people at Moselle last weekend trespassing to get selfies in front of the feed room. One of the most distasteful things I’ve ever seen,” Harpootlian said, adding, “I don’t want the jury to be influenced by crazy paparazzi.”

Newman said the jury would see the family’s property after the next trial phase. The prosecution will call its rebuttal witnesses Tuesday morning.

South Carolina legal experts believe a court can allow the jury to view a relevant property if one party requests it and no significant changes have been made.

“I don’t believe it is commonly requested,” said Columbia-based retired attorney Dennis Bolt. “I can’t recall ever requesting it unless there was something unique and felt that the jury could not fully grasp it without visiting the scene.”

High-profile juries have visited crime scenes. The 12 jurors and nine alternates in O.J. Simpson’s 1995 double murder trial saw Nicole Brown Simpson’s upscale Los Angeles neighborhood. Simpson was acquitted of murdering Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

The Parkland, Florida, school shooter’s sentencing jury traveled through the high school last year to retrace his steps. Murdaugh’s defense called its final witnesses Monday. Murdaugh’s younger brother, John Marvin, testified about his close relationship with his wife and children.

“It was a great relationship. Anything that the boys were doing, Alex wanted to do,” John Marvin Murdaugh said. “The boys always came first to him.”

He testified that his brother’s nearly three-decade marriage to Margaret” was a great relationship. All marriages, I’m sure, have hiccups here and there, but I’m telling you, it was a good marriage.”

Despite video evidence disproving his alibi, John Marvin Murdaugh admitted under cross-examination that his brother had lied to detectives when he said he was not at the kennels before his wife and son were slain.

Murdaugh, 54, the son of a prominent Lowcountry legal family, testified emotionally last week.

“I would never hurt Maggie. I would never hurt Paul,” he testified. Authorities say Murdaugh was under significant financial pressure and stole millions from his former law practice and clients to support his lengthy heroin addiction. He killed his wife and son to gain sympathy before being caught.

On cross-examination, Waters recounted Murdaugh’s lies, including his financial crimes and a roadside shooting three months after the killings in which he allegedly tried to kill himself so his oldest son, Buster, could collect on his multimillion-dollar life insurance policy.

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“When accountability is at your door, Mr. Murdaugh, bad things happen,” Waters said.

“For the first time in your life of privilege and prominence and wealth, when you were facing accountability, each time suddenly you became a victim,” he added. Murdaugh said his drug addiction and mental state influenced him during the suicide-for-hire scam.

Murdaugh could be sentenced to 30–life without parole for the double murders. Two counts of weapon possession during a violent crime could add five years.

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