Walterboro prepares for the spotlight ahead of Murdaugh murder trial

Watch WIS News 10 at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 7:38 PM EST

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Just days ahead of one of the highest-profile murder trials in South Carolina history, it’s quiet outside the Colleton County Courthouse.

All of that changes Monday when media organizations and spectators from around the world descend on Walterboro for the murder trial of Richard “Alex” Murdaugh.

On June 7, 2021, the prominent Lowcountry attorney dialed 911 to report that he found his wife Maggie and son Paul shot to death, near the dog kennels on the family’s 1700-acre hunting property off Moselle Road near Islandton.

Murdaugh has since been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in their deaths, along with two firearm charges. The charges carry a life sentence.

The Murdaugh family hunting property known as “Moselle” sits about 20 miles west of the Colleton County Courthouse, where Murdaugh will stand trial on Monday for the murders: a venue where Alex Murdaugh’s grandfather’s portrait hung on the wall in the courtroom.

Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh was a longtime solicitor in the 14th Circuit of South Carolina.

Judge Clifton Newman ordered the portrait be removed before the trial gets underway.

Outside the courthouse in Walterboro, the sleepy town of 6500 people is bracing for the crush of journalists and spectators, all set to make the “Lowcountry’s Front Porch” home for the next few weeks. Scott Grooms is the director of tourism and downtown development in Walterboro.

“We are taking a proactive stance in making sure we try to take care of needs before they pop up,” Grooms said.

He described a plan that has been in the works for months regarding how the city will play host to a trial of this magnitude.

“Everything from where are we going to park people… to coordinating food trucks. We had to coordinate where are we going to park the media.”

“All of that has come together and I think we’re ready… I really do.”

And while nobody can fully predict what will play out in court, when asked whether this town has ever seen an event like this, one answer was clear.

“I would safely say not. We’ve had our festivals and things, and yes- we have had murder trials in our courthouse.”

“But nothing of this magnitude. Not at all.”

Jury selection for the trial begins Monday. Stay with WIS TV and for complete updates.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.