Alleged killer lawyer Alex Murdaugh was all smug smiles in a South Carolina courtroom Monday as jury selection kicked off in his case, in which he is accused of murdering his wife and son to deflect attention from his financial crimes.
The accused heinous double-murderer, 54, just couldn’t help himself, grinning broadly during the proceeding at the Colleton County Courthouse in Waterboro.
The high-profile trial is slated to last three weeks, although finding a jury pool unfamiliar with the details of the case in the rural Low Country county is expected to be difficult and could drag out the proceeding longer.
Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22, were found dead in the dog kennel of the family’s Islandton hunting lodge June 7, 2021.
Both victims were shot multiple times but with different weapons. The husband and wife had been estranged at the time of the murder, and Alex has repeatedly insisted he is innocent in the pair’s deaths.
On Monday, lawyers on both sides combed through 700 jury summonses to bring in more than 200 people for a total of three hours of questioning. The prosecution and defense chose 30 people from that pool as they try to find 12 people and alternates to decide Alex Murdaugh’s fate.
All the jurors in a narrowed-down pool stood up when asked if they had heard about the case.
South Carolina investigators spent 13 months looking into the case before charging Alex Murdaugh with the murders in July. The now-disbarred lawyer also faces 99 separate charges of financial fraud that will be handled at a later trial.
If convicted, Murdaugh will face a minimum sentence of 30 years. Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty.
Local authorities do not seem to have located the murder weapons, and it’s unclear if there is another smoking gun linking Murdaugh to the crimes.
The alleged murderer said he was visiting his infirm parents at the time of the slayings.
Some of the three weeks scheduled for the trial are expected to focus on the shirt Murdaugh was wearing the night of the murders. Prosecutors say the victims’ DNA and Paul’s blood is on the shirt, which was destroyed before the defense could conduct its own tests.
Murdaugh’s lawyers say he brushed against his deceased family members when checking to see if they were still alive.
Prosecutors are also expected to argue that he killed his family to distract from his extensive financial crimes.
With Post wires.