Jurors will visit SC crime scene site in Alex Murdaugh trial
Jurors in Alex Murdaugh's murder trial in the shooting deaths of his wife and son will get to visit the South Carolina home where the killings took place before they begin deliberating, the judge ruled Monday.
Lawyers for the disgraced South Carolina attorney asked for the trip to the Colleton County property called Moselle so that the jury can see the dog kennels near where the body of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh was found and the storage room where 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh was killed on June 7, 2021.
Alex Murdaugh, 54, faces two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife and son. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. Before the jury visit issue came up, both sides suggested that closing statements and deliberations could begin this week.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said Monday that it's important for jurors to visit the Murdaugh home to see “how small the feed room is” and “where the feed room is compared to Maggie's body."
“You just can't really appreciate the spatial issues without really seeing them,” he said.
Prosecutors told the judge that they didn't want the jury to visit because it has been 20 months since the killings and it looks different.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said trees planted between the Murdaugh home and the kennels shortly before the killings have grown taller and thicker, and one the state's key arguments is that Murdaugh, who testified that he was inside the house 1,100 feet (335 meters) away when investigators think the killings happened, should have been able to hear the rifle shots or shogun blasts. He said he didn’t.
“If anything, that would require additional testimony because the scene is different,” Waters said on the trial's 25th day.
Judge Clifton Newman agreed to schedule the visit, saying he usually allows them if either side requests one. Only the jury, the judge, lawyers, and police and security personnel can be there.
The day of the visit has not been set.
The judge agreed with Harpootlian to request that Colleton County deputies provide additional security on the property, which is currently under contract with a buyer for $3.9 million.
The defense lawyer said over the weekend that several trespassers were found taking selfies outside the feed room where Paul Murdaugh died.
“It's the most distasteful thing we've ever seen,” Harpootlian said.