One of the most bizarre (and decisive) moments of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s double homicide trial unfolded just hours before his case was sent to a Colleton County, South Carolina jury last Thursday.
I am referring, of course, to the infamous “egg juror” – who was relieved of her duties by S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman midway through closing arguments in the case.
Newman’s decision to remove the “egg juror” would ultimately prove pivotal to the unanimous guilty verdicts handed down against the disbarred lawyer – who was sentenced to life in prison last week for the savage slayings of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. Maggie and Paul were brutally murdered on June 7, 2021 at Moselle – the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties.
Newman removed the juror in question for allegedly having improper conversations with three individuals regarding “evidence and testimony at that point in the trial.” The juror compounded the problem by allegedly lying to Newman about these communications – violating his order that jurors not discuss the case with anyone (or each other).
After a two-day investigation into the allegations, Newman opted to remove the woman – juror No. 785 – “in order to protect the integrity of the process.”
“You have been by all accounts a great juror,” Newman said, telling her she had “smiled consistently, seemingly been attentive to the case and performed well.”
Newman added he was “not suggesting you intentionally did anything wrong” – and thanked the juror for her service.
As she was being dismissed, Newman asked the juror whether she had anything remaining in the jury room.
“A dozen eggs,” she replied.
“A dozen eggs?” Newman responded, smiling.
“You want to leave the eggs or take the eggs?” the judge asked the juror, who indicated her desire to take them.
“Mister bailiff: Can you retrieve from the jury room her dozen eggs?” Newman said.
Here, in its entirety, is the “egg juror” exchange as it unfolded last Thursday morning …
(Click to view)
“As you know the identity of the jurors are confidential (and) not known to the public,” Newman told the juror. “Cameras are not allowed to videotape the jurors and we have operated by juror numbers. Your identity will be kept confidential as long as the court is concerned.”
This week, Columbia, S.C. attorney Joe McCulloch – a fixture at the Murdaugh trial – issued a statement on behalf of the “egg juror” asking the public and members of the media to stop trying to contact her.
“I am reaching out to the press and public today on behalf of juror No. 785 who was excused from the jury in the State v. Murdaugh case just prior to deliberations,” McCulloch said in the statement. “I am requesting that everyone respect her privacy at both her home and her place of work. While other jurors have chosen to comment, which is their prerogative, that is not her desire at this time.”
“Given her public service for the weeks of trial, she earned through her public service the right to have her wishes respected,” McCulloch added. “She wishes you to know that she took the juror oath and all of the subsequent court’s instructions seriously and believes she followed them appropriately. She now wishes freedom from contact and harassment and requests that efforts to contact her at her home or work come to an immediate end. In that regard, we have requested the assistance of the Colleton County sheriff’s department. All further questions can be directed to my office.”
As this news outlet reported last week, the “egg juror” – had she remained on the panel – would have likely wound up keeping the state from securing convictions against Murdaugh.
“She was dug in,” a source familiar with the deliberations confirmed. “She said he was ‘not guilty’ and there was nothing anyone could do to change her mind.”
“She would have hung the jury,” another source confirmed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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Mixed feelings here – The lady HAD to have expected some degree of notoriety post-trial – by virtue of it being the so-called “trial of the century” … right? With her ‘eggs-cusal” from Hizzoner, it was essentially a moot question. Heck, she had The Fourth Estate on her tail as they drove her away from the court-house!! I respect her/her attorney’s request to be left alone. But I feel like somebody will catch her out ……..Kathleen
Why did the jurors even know she was “dug in” when the jurors were instructed to NOT discuss the case prior to deliberations? Judge Newman must have stated “Do not discuss the case” to jurors maybe a hundred times? Since the egg juror was released before deliberations, why was she running her mouth by talking to the other jurors about her position?
Come on Karen. Are you this naïve? Griffin and Harpootlian are obviously leaking that she would have hung the jury but for Judge Newman dismissing her. Willy Folks isn’t above using those two as a source any more than he would be about her hairstylists sisters husband.
I’d like to know why she had a dozen eggs with her in the first place.
More curious to me is that Judge Newman told the jury to “not discuss the case” at the end of every court day and at the beginning of each break; but, if he had ever admonished them against visiting social media and the internet, he stopped so doing early-to-mid trial. Judge Newman was aware the jury could access the internet and said so in dressing Jim Griffin down. Yet, nothing, BUT NOTHING, was done to stop the Prosecution from getting its rumors and quackeries to the jury, from “Maggie saw a divorce lawyer and hired and accountant” to “Alex Murdaugh tried to strangle a prostitute” to “family annihilator fits him to a T” through this very FITSnews and its live commentary. Eric Bland, a sponsor of this blog, bragged that he had been on 176 shows during the trial and made no secret whatsoever of his constantly advising the Prosecution and his desire to see a conviction. Judge Newman should have asked the jury every day if they had visited the internet and seen anything about the case. As to the dozen eggs, I hear they are hard to find and expensive. She may have had them boiled as a treat to her fellow jurors but decided they do not deserve the treat after betraying her. In any case, Judge Newman should not have so mocked her for wanting her eggs back, specially after she left.