VIDEO: First day of Murdaugh trial underway, search for jurors difficult
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WIS) - One of the most closely watched murder trials in the history of the Palmetto State is officially underway.
Prominent Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh is charged in the 2021 murders of his wife and son.
WIS’ Greg Adaline and Nick Neville are at the courthouse for the proceedings.
The jury selection is set to last multiple days. Over 900 summons were sent to prospective jurors. However, jury selection could prove difficult in high-profile cases.
Murdaugh arrived at the Colleton County Courthouse this morning, wearing a white button-down shirt and a jacket over his hands.
The goal of the search is to find 12 impartial jurors and two alternates. The Murdaugh family has run the local solicitors’ office for nearly a century. Finding anyone locally who has not heard of Murdaugh or the case in the area could be a challenge.
The questionnaire for jurors is reported to be extremely detailed. It aims to weed out anyone with knowledge of the case or a pre-formed opinion. It asks many questions, including what news and podcasts they listen to.
During the search, both the defense and prosecution will be able to dismiss a number of jurors as well. There is a strategy for both sides, they’re looking for an ideal juror.
WIS spoke with attorney Eric Bland on Monday morning. His client, the family of Gloria Satterfield, won a confession of judgment against Murdaugh in a separate case for millions of dollars.
He said jury selection is one of the most important aspects of the trial:
“You have to be talking to people who are receptive to your case.”
“If you’re talking to people that are not willing to listen- you can be the best orator in the world and have the best evidence in the world… but if they come in with preconceived notions or an outcome that they want to have.. there’s nothing you can do about it.”
“So a lot of time and money on both sides have gone into determining what the optimal juror is in this case.”
Judge Clifton Newman has also ordered all media covering the trial to not identify or disclose any identifying information about the jurors to ensure a fair trial.
Jury selection will continue through the afternoon. WIS will continue to provide updates on the case as it develops.
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