Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Alex Murdaugh murder jurors to visit ‘Moselle’ crime scene


ISLANDTON, SC — The sprawling estate is as idyllic as it is secluded, its fishing pond, expansive farmland, and four-bedroom home surrounded by trees and a winding driveway that keep it out of sight of the freeway.

On Wednesday, jurors assessing the fate of Alex Murdaugh, the prominent South Carolina attorney charged with the murder of his wife and son, will proceed past the property’s metal gate and ‘no trespassing’ sign. trespassing” to see where the double murder took place, one of the last. stages of the trial before you start trying to reach a verdict.

The testimony ended Tuesday after more than 75 witnesses spoke for about five weeks. Jurors heard testimony about Mr Murdaugh, 54, his family’s legal influence in the area and the fatal shooting in June 2021 that left his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and their youngest son, Paul Murdaugh , 22, died near the dog kennels property. Prosecutors say Mr. Murdaugh committed the crime in an unsuccessful effort to cover up his longstanding embezzlement of millions of dollars.

The visit of the jury on Wednesday morning was to be followed by closing arguments from the prosecution and defense, after which 12 jurors will begin deliberations.

Jurors rarely visit crime scenes, and experts said taking jurors out of the tightly controlled environment of the courtroom and into the real world could pose significant risks to the court. prosecution and defence.

“There are a lot of dangers with that,” said Nancy S. Marder, a law professor and jury expert at the Chicago-Kent College of Law, who recalls being seated in a Starbucks in Los Angeles when a busload of jurors in the OJ Simpson trial passed during their visit to the crime scene.

For example, according to experts, lawyers are not allowed to report things or speak with jurors. “You don’t know what the jurors will see when they get there,” Ms Marder said. “They can focus on very different things.”

But visitation can also help jurors visualize a scene, and jury visitation has taken place in several high-profile cases, including the school shooter’s conviction trial in Parkland, Florida; the trial of a Louisville, Kentucky police officer charged with Breonna Taylor’s fatal raid and, perhaps most famously, the OJ Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles.

Melody Vanoy was among the jurors who visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which had remained largely untouched since 14 students and three staff were killed there in 2018. Ms Vanoy said the visit was disturbing but significant because it was considering sentencing the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, to life or death in prison. (She was among a minority of jurors who voted for the former.)

“Was it painful?” Absolutely,” said Ms. Vanoy, vice president for diversity and inclusion at a healthcare company. “But going there, I think it’s been helpful because it brings the case to life.”

Jurors are usually not allowed to talk to each other about the case before deliberations begin, and Ms Vanoy said it was a unique experience to walk through and process such a disturbing scene without speaking to her colleagues.

“You can’t naturally process your emotions in the moment,” she said. “Your instinct is to say, ‘Oh my God, have you seen X? But you can’t. It was quiet.

Ms Vanoy said she found the visit helpful in understanding the physical distancing between school points that was discussed at trial.

Mr Murdaugh admitted on the witness stand last week that he was at the kennel where the murders took place with his wife and son in the minutes before the killings, but said he had brought a buggy back golf course at the main house, about 500 yards away. away, before the shooting. His lawyers obtained testimony that Mr Murdaugh could not have heard gunshots coming from inside the house. Mr Murdaugh then left the property to visit his mother, which the prosecution portrayed as a calculated effort to build an alibi.

Valerie Hans, a law professor and jury expert at Cornell University, said jury visits can help humanize defendants or show them another side, like when jurors in the OJ Simpson case were allowed to see a trophy room in his home where the former NFL football star kept his accolades. But, she added, bringing jurors into a large estate like Mr Murdaugh’s could also lead to disregard for his wealth and privileges, which prosecutors say helped him hide the embezzlements. funds to clients and legal partners.

“It’s a gamble,” Ms Hans said. “It’s another way of humanizing the individual to show that’s the environment he lived in. But also, he was a wealthy man, so there’s a question mark.”

In requesting the visit, one of Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian, said he wanted the jurors to be able to see the distance between the various geographical points discussed in the case and the size of a small courtroom. food where Paul Murdaugh was found dead.

“You can’t really appreciate spatial issues without actually seeing them,” he told the court.

Creighton Waters, the lead prosecutor, opposed the request, noting that ownership has changed in the 20 months since the crime, including trees between the kennels and the main house that are “significantly taller and thicker” than in the past.

Judge Clifton Newman authorized the visit and said he would be present with the lawyers. Over reporters’ objection, he barred reporters and the public from observing the visit, allowing three reporters to briefly view the scene after the jurors left.

Although much of the property is hidden from the road, it was clear this week that it had changed since the crime, when no one lived there. Along with tree growth, the once well worn driveway is now nearly obscured by overgrown grass. Mr Harpootlian asked the judge to ensure the police secure the scene for the visit, saying dozens of people tried to enter the property during the trial, some trying to take photos near the crime scene .

Stew Mathews, a Cincinnatti-based defense attorney, seeks jury visits in just about every serious case he handles, he said. He did so last year when he successfully represented Brett Hankison, the former police officer who was found not guilty of endangering Breonna Taylor’s neighbors in a fatal police raid on his home. apartment.

Mr Mathews said that while he could not be sure, he believed the jury visit had helped the jurors in this case understand the scene and perhaps understand the defense argument that Mr Hankison didn’t know there was another apartment attached to Ms. Taylor’s.

“We had, as evidence, diagrams and photographs,” Mr Hankison said. “But none of that does justice to going out and seeing 360-degree live views.”

nytimes Gt

If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – at itipspedia@gmail.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Leave A Reply