Murdaugh trial recap: Day 2 of jury selection, motions hearing

The judge is hearing pre-trial motions, concerning evidence the state wants to present. Reporter Grace Runkel speaks on another SC case that went nationwide.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 4:58 PM EST
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WALTERBORO, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The second day of jury selection in the murder trial for Alex Murdaugh came to a close on Tuesday night after Judge Clifton Newman heard arguments in motions filed in the case.

Murdaugh arrived at the Colleton County courthouse at 9 a.m. for the “Voir Dire” or selection process for the fourth group of jurors in the jury pool. The first three groups started the selection process on Monday.

Alex Murdaugh, who is on trial for murder, arrived at the Colleton County Courthouse on Tuesday for the second day of jury selection.

Qualifying jurors from all four groups will return to court at 11 a.m. on Wednesday to be questioned by the legal teams before they decide on the final 12 jurors to be seated. Six alternate jurors will also be chosen.

After a lunch break, the judge heard motions in the case.

The judge denied the state’s request to include Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes as evidence at this point. The state wanted it included because prosecutors argue it explains a motive.

“His theory is, he knew the jig was up, so he went home, and butchered, blew the head off his son, and butchered his wife,” said Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian about the state’s argument. “There’s not one shred of evidence there were any problems between any of them. There’s texts, pictures, people that were with them the previous weekend at a ball game, video from that day with Paul and he’s having a good time. There is no dispute anywhere that they were the perfect family in terms of their relationships.”

Murdaugh’s defense team wants testimony from Paul Greer, a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent and firearms examination expert, thrown out because they question its scientific validity.

Greer says the casings found near Maggie’s body and spent shells found elsewhere on the Moselle Road property had the same mechanism marks and were cycled through the same rifle. SLED uses pattern matching to compare tool markings on bullet casings. He says this is the recognized standard in the field.

“I have examined and conducted thousands of comparisons,” Greer said when asked by Murdaugh’s defense if he can say with scientific certainty the casings were fired by the same gun. Greer stood by his opinion about the markings on the .300 Blackout casings under cross-examination.

At the end of the day, the judge ruled to allow the admission of casing evidence and for Greer to be called as a witness. He said the science of the analysis process is sound. The judge added that any questions regarding the evidence could be handled in cross-examination during the trial.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the court went into recess for the evening. Jury selection will resume at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.