WALTERBORO, S.C. (AP) — As his life unraveled over the past two years, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh didn’t fight giving up his law license and admitted plenty of mistakes tied to missing client money and a financial mess that led to 100 criminal charges.
But he has adamantly insisted, from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times at the family’s estate in June 2021, that he was not the killer. Soon, it will be up to 12 jurors to decide if they agree.
Jury selection began Monday morning as prosecutors and defense attorneys sifted through some 700 summons to find 12 jurors and six alternates. More than 200 people were brought in for a first round of questioning that lasted nearly three hours, but only about 30 were qualified for the pool of potential jurors.
Potential jurors faced a battery of questions, including whether they knew any of the nearly 200 law officers, friends, bankers and others on the witness list as well as whether they had heard about and followed the case.
Two other panels were screened Monday and lawyers said they hope to have a jury picked by either late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
State agents investigated for 13 months before charging Murdaugh with two counts of murder in July, and a judge has set aside three weeks for the trial. Murdaugh, who has been in jail on financial crimes charges since October 2021, insisted on the trial as soon as possible.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty but said they will ask for life without parole if Murdaugh is convicted of murder. The minimum sentence is 30 years.
Here’s an overview of the trial and the scene surrounding it as hundreds of lawyers and their support staff, reporters and true crime enthusiasts are expected to swell Colleton County’s population of 38,000 in the rural, southern part of the state.
THE KILLINGS AND EVIDENCE
Murdaugh, 54, told police he found Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, dead outside their Colleton County home on June 7, 2021. He said he’d been gone for an hour to visit his ailing father and mother.
Authorities released little information about the killings beyond saying that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh with a shotgun.
Prosecutors have not detailed direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the deaths. So far, they have filed no confession or witness statements about the killings with the court and there is no evidence that either gun has been found.
Video from Paul…