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MurdaughsTrial

‘Murdaugh Murders’ Trial: Day Two

News and notes …

Welcome back to our live feed from the double homicide trial at the heart of the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Today is day number two. For a recap of yesterday’s proceedings, click here.

Billed as the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century,’ media from across the nation have descended on this small Lowcountry town as we await the fate of Alex Murdaugh, whose family ran this area like its own fiefdom for more than a century.

Murdaugh stands accused of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on his family’s hunting property in Colleton County on June 7, 2021.

He pleaded not guilty. Jury selection for his trial began yesterday and is continuing today.

Below is our live feed from the trial …

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LIVE FEED

9:30 p.m. ESTJenn Wood and I break down day two of the trial …

(Click to view)

6:30 p.m. EST – Here is my report on the big win scored by prosecutors in the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson during today’s pre-trial motions hearing …

(Click to view)

PROSECUTION SCORES MAJOR WIN ON BALLISTICS EVIDENCE, TESTIMONY

5:30 p.m. EST – An early evening update …

4:44 p.m. EST – Harpootlian asks the judge to discuss the schedule for tomorrow. “So do we need to be here before 11:00 a.m.”

4:39 p.m. EST – Prosecutor Creighton Waters is speaking to the judge about the validity of the technology utilized to examine firearms and tool marks. He states it is an applied and highly recognized science. Waters also points out that the report cited in the defense’s motion was the subject of much criticism.

4:37 p.m. EST – The defense has completed examination of Mr. Greer. The State has no additional questions or witnesses to present regarding the ballistics.

4:34 p.m. EST – ?Dick looks like he might even vote no on Dylan’s poll.

4:31 p.m. EST – Results of an instant poll done by Dylan Nolan on our livestream on YouTube… Zoinks…

4:27 p.m. EST – Griffin brings up item 33 which he states is a rifle that was purchased at the same time as another rifle purchased for Paul Murdaugh and was stolen. Greer states he does not know the history of the rifle or how they were recovered or obtained. When asked if he can tell what year a rifle is, Greer replies he is not able to date a firearm.

4:25 p.m. EST – Greer states the ultimate goal in firearms is to identify or eliminate. In this case he was unable to identify several cartridge cases as he had inconclusive results.

4:21 p.m. EST – Greer tells Griffin that the the reviewer on his analysis for the Murdaugh case was Chad Smith. His name would not appear on the report, but on the case file documenting his agreements on Greer’s conclusions.

4:16 p.m. EST – Greer explains he uses a pattern matching method based on the extensive comparisons he has conducted as well as quality control procedures at SLED. Griffin asks Greer if there is a process to review Greer’s analysis. Greer explains every case he reviews at SLED is 100% micro-verified. At that point another court qualified examiner comes behind and reviews his conclusions.

4:03 p.m. EST – Griffin asks what Greer is able to conclude about the shell casings found on the scene. He is able to conclude that the cartridges were fired from the same firearm. Griffin asks Greer what his level of confidence is that the rounds were cycled through the same weapon, and presses him, asking if he is certain they could only have been fired by one firearm. Greer responds that he has successfully identified rounds fired by consecutively manufactured barrels, and that he is confident the rounds were cycled through the same rifle.

4:00 p.m. EST – Griffin asks Greer how he was able to conclude that the rifle found in the gun room at moselle was not the rifle responsible for the cartridges found at the scene? Greer responds that he could not conclusively identify.

3:56 p.m. EST – Defense attorney Jim Griffin approaches. Griffin asks if a .300 blackout rifle can be identified with his methodology, Greer answers that this identification is possible.

3:56 p.m. EST – Defense attorney Jim Griffin approaches. Griffin asks if a .300 blackout rifle can be identified with his methodology, Greer answers that this identification is possible.

3:51 p.m. EST – Greer is next asked to discuss a 2016 report cited in yesterday’s defense filing. This report is another forensic industry document, which calls into question multiple tenants of the firearms identification profession. Mr. Greer tells the court that this report has been called into question by the Organization of Scientific Area Committee, a federal entity. The prosecution has no further questions for Mr. Greer.

3:39 p.m. EST – Greer is asked about a 2009 professional report cited in a motion filed by the defense yesterday, which made 13 recommendations for forensic scientists, six of which apply to firearms ID. The report recommended applying qualitative methods to analyze the reliability of forensic evidence, as well as the application of the scientific method to cases, the report also recommended the establishment of protocols for forensic practices, as well as professional qualification of all forensic personnel. Greer testified that SLED forensic personnel follow all recommendations made in the report.

3:38 p.m. EST – Greer is asked about 2008 report cited in defense motion which discredits the science of firearm toolmark examination. Greer testifies that he feels that this report fails to take into account the “human” aspect of firearm identification.

3:21 p.m. EST – Greer tells the court that SLED is visited by accreditation auditors every four years. They complete internal audits every year.

3:17 p.m. EST – Mr. Greer states firearms identification has been around for years. He has testified in both state and federal court approximately 25 times. In the 25 times he has testified his testimony been ruled admissible. He states there was no limitations placed on his testimony in prior cases.

3:14 p.m. EST – Mr. Greer tells the court that SLED is ANAB accredited. They just received their reaccreditation and go through the reaccreditation process every 4 years. Their casework is micro-verified. Their case files also go through a secondary technical blind peer review by a qualified individual.

3:10 p.m EST – Mr. Greer tells the court he is employed with the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). He states he is certified and a member of Association of Firearms Toolmark Examiners (AFTE) since 2015. Greer passed an exam and completed mock casework to earn certification. He regularly retrains and goes to conferences in his field to stay up-to-date with new technologies.

3:08 p.m. EST – The State calls ballistics expert Paul Greer to the stand.

3:06 p.m. EST – Judge Newman says he frowns on the motions in limine because he has not seen evidence. He is not prepared to grant, though the evidence may be admissible, because he hasn’t seen facts. Judge Newman states, “I am not prepared to grant admitting evidence in limine.”

3:04 p.m. EST – Creighton Waters tells Judge Newman this case is “different than any other case they’ve seen.” He also tells the judge that If the court is more comfortable with in camera discussion of evidence as they come up, he is okay with that.

3:02 p.m. EST – Judge Newman states a motion in limine is a motion to exclude evidence and that the motion filed by the State is a motion to admit evidence.

2:58 p.m. EST – Harpootlian doesn’t want the State to talk about Mark Tinsley’s subpoena in the boat crash wrongful death case. He states his theory of motive is Murdaugh knew the jig was up and went home and butchered his son and butchered his wife. He claims there is no evidence of any dispute between the family. No evidence of an impending divorce.

2:57 p.m. EST – Prosecutor Creighton Waters agrees that they gave the discovery late. Waters says they should have had access to State Grand Jury evidence and transcript. He cites confrontation about theft on day of murder, “I think this motion will be moot.”

2:54 p.m. EST – Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian brings up a motion filed yesterday arguing the question of law stating he doesn’t want the jury to hear about Alex Murdaugh’s net worth statement regarding motive evidence. He says he would like to argue it in full in the morning. The expert, is ready.

2:49 p.m. EST – Creighton Waters states “There are spent cases found around the body of Maggie.” He also claims there are spent cases around the stoop of near the gun room where Paul and friends liked to sight their rifles. The State is prepared to have hearing “on short notice.”

2:49 p.m. EST – Prosecutor Creighton Waters cites recent case law in NC and KY courts allowing this analysis. He also cites South Carolina (State) v Hackett in 1949 and says this has been accepted for “decades, and decades, and decades.”

2:47 p.m. EST – Defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian states they have gotten Greer’s SLED report. He cites 300 blackout shell casings, cites extraction and ejection markings on the shell that tie them to the markings on the crime scene. Harpootlian says they’ve found matches at shooting range and around residence and has asked for hearing on “what’s the basis” establishing the connection between the shells found around the property and the murder shells.

2:44 p.m. EST – Prosecutor Creighton Waters is asking for ruling on firearm motion prior to jury being sworn it. He states they are prepared for evidentiary presentation on this matter. He believes they have found the casings of 300 blackout rifle owned by Alex Murdaugh but the rifle is now missing.

2:43 p.m. EST – Dick Harpootlian says they understand that polygraphs are not admissible.

2:38 p.m. EST – Judge Newman has begun hearing pre-trial motions. The defense and prosecution agreed that any testimony relating to Tom Bevel’s report will not be discussed in front of the jury. It will be done in camera.

2:36 p.m. EST – Court has resumed. Judge Newman said there are 122 qualified jurors reporting for jury duty tomorrow.

2:33 p.m. EST – Still waiting for the livestream to begin. Once court is back in session, the judge will be hearing pre-trial motions. The potential jurors will not be present for this hearing.

1:19 p.m. EST – A quick early afternoon update …

1:03 p.m. EST – Update on timing for this afternoon’s proceedings …

12:40 p.m. EST – Alex Murdaugh’s defense team has left the Colleton County courthouse after the conclusion of juror qualification. Next up? Pre-trial motions …

11:17 a.m. EST – Not sure if it’s just me, but poor Judge Newman sounds like his voice is getting tired halfway through the list of witnesses. (Jenn Wood)

11:13 a.m. EST – Judge Newman is going through the extensive list of witnesses with the group of jurors.

11:03 a.m. EST – The prosecution and defense have introduced their teams. Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian points out the smaller size of Murdaugh’s defense team before introducing them.

11:00 a.m. EST – The judge has asked anyone who is related to Paul Murdaugh and Maggie Murdaugh to stand. Juror 583 is related to Murdaugh and said it would affect his ability to be impartial. The State had no objections to juror 583 being excused. The defense requested further inquiry. Judge Newman asked the juror to remain for a bit.

10:56 a.m. EST – After a brief break to stand, the state has no objections to the jurors being excused.

10:43 a.m. EST – Judge Newman has asked the jurors to share the source from where they have gotten their information about the Murdaugh case. FITSNews has come up in addition to other local outlets.

10:29 a.m. EST – Judge Newman has asked the jury if they have read, heard or know anything about the Murdaugh case. As was the case yesterday, it sounded like most jurors stood to indicate a “yes” response to the question.

10:23 a.m. EST – Judge Newman has concluded the statutory exemptions for this group of jurors. He has moved on to individuals who may need to transfer their service to another time.

10:10 a.m. EST – Initial questions for the current group of jurors has concluded. Judge Clifton Newman is now asking the jurors the standard questions to determine eligibility of the jurors.

10:04 a.m. EST – In case anyone missed research director Jenn Wood‘s appearance on NewsNation last night, click here to check it out.

9:54 a.m. EST – FITSNews legal expert and renowned criminal defense attorney Jack Swerling also weighed in on the witness list. Here is his quote …

” If any doubt, put them on the list so if strategy changes, they can be called. Just because they are on the list doesn’t mean you have to call them as a witness, but if they are not on the list and you want to call them, it may be a problem because the jury panel was not asked about them.”

Jack Swerling

9:37 p.m. EST – Interesting … we reported on this last week.

9:34 a.m. ESTWill Folks is in the Colleton County Courthouse today for the second day of jury selection. Each media outlet has one reserved seat so the FITSNews team is taking turns.

9:24 a.m. EST – Some interesting insight on the witness list released during jury selection from FITSNews legal expert, S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe:

“Sometimes I put a name on (the) witness list because I know their name will be mentioned a lot in course of trial and I want to know if prospective jurors have heard of him/her. I did not subpoena them or plan to call them but still want to know if a juror knows or is related to them.”

Solicitor David Pascoe

8:47 a.m. EST – Prosecutorial and defense sources agree they are expecting S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman to “let ’em play” once these proceedings move to pre-trial motions – likening him to a football referee who is disinclined to throw a lot of penalty flags. That would seem to indicate a lot of maneuvering room for attorneys on both sides.

8:38 a.m. EST – I will have a story up on this later today, but last night I watched with my own eyes the cell phone video that shredded Alex Murdaugh’s alibi in this case. This is the “short, cellphone video” of Alex, Paul and Maggie Murdaugh taken “right before Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were fatally shot.” What I saw was considerably different than the “convivial family” described by Murdaugh’s attorneys.

8:10 a.m. EST – Lots of discussion today about timing for the conclusion of jury qualification, pretrial motions and the final round of jury selection. On the expedited time estimate, jury qualification could be concluded by lunch today and pretrial motions dealt with this afternoon. That would mean final jury selection would take place on Wednesday morning and opening arguments could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon. Again, that would be on the expedited time track (Will Folks).

7:40 a.m. EST – Not gonna lie … it’s COLD in the ‘Boro this morning …

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3 comments

Bill January 24, 2023 at 4:06 pm

Only evidence that is directly related to the murder, should be allowed. The facts that Murdaugh may have committed other financial crimes, etc. Are not admissible evidence to this murder. There must be specifics: not circumstantial evidence. Jury must be convinced by the real evidence 100% without a doubt; to get a conviction. Right now, that evidence has not been provided to the jury. We shall see who actually did this crime. It could be a number of people, beyond Murdaugh. Who did it, i.e., Dixie Mafia hit, family of girl killed in boating accident, family acquantenance, or just a break-in criminal. Wait for all the evidence, before convicting someone of a crime they may not have committed. Especially, one this horrible.

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The Colonel January 24, 2023 at 4:48 pm

Looks like ol’Hartypoot had his pooter handed to him.

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The Colonel January 24, 2023 at 4:51 pm

“When asked if he can tell what year a rifle is, Greer replies he is not able to date a firearm.”

Hey Mr. Greer, did you ever think to call the manufacturer? They can tell you when, where and often by whom the firearm was manufactured.

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