Image default

South Carolina Prosecutors Want Graphic ‘Murdaugh Murders’ Exhibits Sealed

Wait … weren’t they sealed already?

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Prosecutors in the office of South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson have prepared a draft order for the signature of circuit court judge Clifton Newman which would seal graphic photos and videos from the trial of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.

Wait … weren’t all of those graphic photos and videos already sealed?

Yes … or, wait … maybe.

Murdaugh received a pair of life sentences on March 3, 2023 after a jury took less than an hour to find him guilty of the savage slayings of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh at Moselle – the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties.

According to the proposed order (.pdf), two of the most sensitive pieces of evidence in the case – body-worn camera footage from Colleton County deputies Daniel Greene and Chad McDowell (the first law enforcement officers to arrive at Moselle after the shooting) – were “treated during trial by the court and the parties as sealed.”



Wait … “treated as sealed?

The order implies these exhibits – and potentially others like them – were “inadvertently not marked as sealed” by the court.

“Inasmuch as … any exhibit depicting the victims at the crime scene or in autopsy were inadvertently not marked as sealed in the clerk’s records, those exhibits are hereby sealed,” the draft order noted. “They shall not be publicly disseminated by anyone absent further order from this court.”

The draft order further stated “any member of the public or media who has inadvertently received any such exhibit depicting the victims, whether at the crime scene or during the autopsy, is hereby prohibited from disseminating any image from the exhibit.”

The obvious problem?

Media outlets currently in possession of such materials would not appear to be subject to any legal prohibition against their release. Meaning, as of now, there is nothing other than decency and decorum stopping them from publishing any of those exhibits.

(Click to View)

Colleton County deputies lift a sheet covering the body of Paul Murdaugh on the evening of June 7, 2021. (S.C. Fourteenth Circuit)

As previously noted, this news outlet has been provided with un-redacted body-worn camera footage from the murder scene – along with multiple photos from the crime scene and subsequent autopsies of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh. Prior to the trial we were also provided with sensitive evidence of a non-graphic nature – including the famous kennel video that shredded Alex Murdaugh’s alibi.

Most of these materials were provided to us prior to the commencement of the murder trial on January 23, 2023. Some of the materials we obtained from our network of sources during the course of the six-week trial.

Editorial decisions were made on an item-by-item basis. Usually, on non-graphic items our policy was to wait until the jury had seen the information before publishing. Our policy regarding the graphic materials? Up to this point, we have declined to release any such footage or photos – although we did rely on these materials to assess validity of testimony offered by witnesses and arguments made by attorneys during the trial. In fact, our access to these materials was vital in letting our audience know whether assertions made by prosecutors, defense lawyers and witnesses were valid.

Ultimately, though, our end goal in this process is to let people “see what we see” – to present all the information we obtain to our audience, allowing each individual listener, reader or viewer reach their own conclusion.

We have yet to do that in this case because we anticipated judge Newman might issue a ruling regarding these exhibits – which, as I have repeatedly pointed out, are items of public record. Newman earned everyone’s respect during the trial, and his rationale for sealing or unsealing certain graphic records deserves careful attention before any decision is made by any outlet regarding publication.

(Click to View)

Judge Clifton Newman listens to a series of objections during Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 10, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

“This is not about members of the media – including our news outlet – wanting to splash sensational images and video of gore and guts all over the internet,” I wrote earlier this year. “I mean, we live in a world so desensitized to the macabre I doubt most people would be overly shocked by the materials, but that is not the issue.”

The issue? The fact these are public documents.

Which means barring redactions for nudity, explicit sexual content or underage victims …. at some point the public has a right to see them. And frankly, the media should have never been barred from seeing them during the trial.

As I noted previously, such graphic content would never be “splashed on our homepage or directly visible in our articles.” There is a right way and a wrong way to do this.

But at the end of the day, I continue to believe “there is a public right to see these materials in some form or fashion.”

Judge Newman is scheduled to take up these weighty matters at a hearing this coming Friday (May 26, 2023) at the Richland County courthouse at 11:00 a.m. EDT. Count on this news outlet to be there.

What do you think should be done with these graphic exhibits? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-engaging comments section below …


Graphic images and videos of the 'Murdaugh Murders' crime scene and autopsies should be ...

Thank you for voting
You have already voted on this poll!
Please select an option!



    (Via: S.C. Attorney General’s Office)



    Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

    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.



    Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.


    Get our newsletter by clicking here …


    Related posts


    Alex Murdaugh’s Legal Odyssey Continues: Appeals Notice Filed

    Jenn Wood

    Unraveling Murdaugh: The Trial And The Evidence

    Jenn Wood

    Alex Murdaugh Sentenced To 40 Years On Federal Financial Crimes

    Dylan Nolan


    Observer May 24, 2023 at 7:15 pm

    What are the prosecutors afraid of? Was some of this evidence doctored or tainted in some way? So f’ing what if pics or other evidence are inseminated into public domain? Necrophiles need porn, too!

    Seriously though, Folks is right. The public has a right to see these things for their own curiosity and to understand the events and processes that has sent a man to prison for the rest of his life. Removal of that right opens the door to doctoring of evidence, now and in the future

    Avatar photo
    VERITAS Top fan June 8, 2023 at 9:35 am

    The crime scene images should not be sealed. Murdaug, Buster, Randy Murdaugh and John Murdaugh and the entire extended family need to see them. Those images are the most telling TRUTH of REALITY of Murdaugh’s crimes.

    SubZeroIQ June 9, 2023 at 8:35 am

    If the jury saw them or could have seen them, then the public should be able to see them. That simple. Privacy is all or none. Once a non-medical non-clergy non-family stranger is let on what is supposed to be private, privacy is lost and can no longer be used as an excuse to exclude the public from court information.


    Leave a Comment