CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Six months after former Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh was charged with murdering his wife and son, his trial will begin Monday in Colleton County.
Typically, homicide trials in South Carolina last a week or more. But Murdaugh’s double-murder trial is expected to take about three weeks. Charleston district attorney Mark Peper says it’s because both sides want to get it right the first time.
“Nobody wants to do it twice. “No one wants to double-cross the family, the accused or the court or any other part of the jury,” said Peper. . “So, no matter how long this trial takes, I have no doubt that Judge Newman will ensure that his decisions are correct. “He lets in the evidence that’s allowed to come in and he says no to the others because nobody wants to do this twice,” he said. Mark Pepper’s Attorney.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The issues of murder
Murdaugh is accused of shooting his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, on the night of June 7, 2021. Although now disbarred, Murdaugh comes from a long line of distinguished attorneys in Colleton County.
So how do you get a partisan bias for this case in a county where so many people know the Murdaugh family? Peper says you do it by asking the jury broadly.
“How do you know the family?” What relationships, if any, have you had? How do you feel about it when you read something, does it automatically make them guilty?” Pepper said.
The decision of the jury, he said, could take a week. The case centers on what investigators call two cold-blooded murders. But last month the Attorney General’s Office announced that Murdaugh would only face life in prison if convicted.
So why would the state take the death penalty off the table in this case? One of the possible reasons is the length of time added to the court proceedings.
“We are talking about four weeks to judge this case. If you seek the death penalty, you can add two weeks before that, and maybe a week or two after that,” Peper said. “Many other pre-trial motions need to be filed.”
Murdaugh’s defenders include Jim Griffin and U.S. Sen. Dick Harpootlian. Peper said the two are the best in the business and will entertain the courtroom.
“It’s going to be fun.” It will be exciting. It’s going to be loud, some might call it a tour down the road,” he said. “But that’s their job. Their job is to say, ‘what you heard about it’s not appropriate.”‘
He said they will fight every step of the way to show that the state cannot prove Murdaugh was the one who pulled the trigger.
“‘You all can’t put the gun in his hand. Yes, there was blood on his clothes: he was the first to find his wife and son dead.’ You’re going to hear a lot of that,” Peper said.
The prosecution’s case relies heavily on the motive for the murder and is expected to argue that Murdaugh had many financial problems, that he sacrificed his family as a way to get away from the accusations. to steal millions, said Peper. Reason, he said, was an important matter for the jury.
“It’s better for the jury to come to a verdict, it has to be unanimous for guilty, if they can have a conversation in the room about, well remember that guy testified why and it’s reasonable to me,” he said. “They want to make that speech, and you better give them something to talk about.”
The case has already received a lot of attention in HBO Max documentaries, podcasts and national news, but Peper does not think that the court will rise to the level of publicity of other high-profile cases.
“I don’t know that OJ Simpson will be given a run for the exposure and attention that he’s gotten,” Peper added. “A former NFL player, a former Hall of Fame running back, bad allegations, those kinds of things, but it’s definitely a killer mystery for the century.”
The trial will begin with jury selection Monday morning in Colleton County.
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