COLLETON COUNTY, SC (WCBD) – Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh will stand trial next week for the murders of his wife and youngest son.
Margaret and her son Paul were found shot to death near their Colleton County home in July 2021. Murdaugh was indicted by a grand jury in July 2022. The trial will determine whether Murdaugh is responsible for their deaths, and what could have led to the shootings
Lowcountry defense attorney and former prosecutor Susan Williams spoke to News 2 about how the first few days of the trial will likely play out, as jury selection will begin in less than a week.
Williams said there is a pool of more than 100 Colleton County residents who could serve as jurors for this trial, and he expects the selection process to reduce that number to 12 to take a day or two. Two people are likely to be selected as alternates.
Jurors may be on the panel as long as they are impartial despite Murdaugh’s knowledge.
After the jurors have been selected and seated, Williams said opening statements will begin with the state prosecutors, because they have the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Murdaugh’s defense team will then present their opening statement before the prosecution testifies, where they can call witnesses to the stand.
The defense will have the opportunity to present testimony; however, Williams said they are not required to do so.
But what impact could this trial have on the future of South Carolina?
“If you are found guilty, then I think, like in any profession, there are people who do not represent the entire South Carolina bar. If you are found not guilty, I think we can still deduce from this that whatever caused you to be found not guilty… it shows that people can be wrongfully accused of something and when they have their day in court, they can be found not guilty.”
Williams went on to say, “Regardless of what happens in this case, lawyers, law enforcement and anyone involved in the criminal justice system, I think they are going to be more careful about what they do at work on a professional level. I think that it will improve day by day what is happening with the way in which people are doing their work ”.
Judge Clifton Newman issued a special order stating that none of the jurors’ names or identities may be made public for their protection.
The trial is scheduled to begin in a Colleton County courtroom on January 23.rd and it could last until February 10the.
Murdaugh is currently being held at the Richland County Detention Center on charges related to financial crimes. His bail was denied at a July 20 hearing.