BLOG: Day 25: Murdaugh defense rests its case; jury to visit Moselle property

Jury may visit Moselle Road crime scene
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 3:00 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 5:00 PM EST
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WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - The sixth week of the Alex Murdaugh murder trial began Monday morning at the Colleton County Courthouse with word that the jury will be able to see the rural property where Murdaugh’s wife and son were shot to death.

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian requested that the jury be able to see the property, but prosecutor Creighton Waters objected, saying the scene has changed since the killings.

Judge Clifton Newman said if either side wants a jury visit, he will arrange it. Harpootlian then raised security concerns, claiming that over the weekend, people were trespassing on the property to take selfies in front of the feed room where Paul Murdaugh’s body was discovered.

Newman said the scene would be secured before any jury visit.

Murdaugh is standing trial for the June 7, 2021, murders of his wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, Paul. Harpootlian also told Newman the defense has three witnesses left to call and expects to rest Monday.

Waters said the state plans to call rebuttal witnesses but that their testimony likely would not last more than a day and they expect to be ready for closing arguments to begin on Wednesday.

READ RECAP: Here’s what happened during week 5 of the Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Murdaugh himself took the stand last week and admitted lying to investigators about where he was leading up to the murders as well as stealing millions from clients and colleagues. But he remained adamant that he did not harm his wife or son.

At the end of Murdaugh’s first full day of testimony on Thursday, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian told Judge Clifton Newman that they had brought in two out-of-state experts — a pathologist and a crime scene analyst — to testify.

WATCH FULL MURDAUGH TESTIMONY: On stand, Alex Murdaugh denies killings but admits lying

“They’re not complicated. One is a pathologist whose testimony will last 30, 45 minutes direct, and I don’t believe there’s going to be much cross. And the other is a crime scene analyst testifying not about the whole crime scene, but based on the pathologist’s testimony about what happened in the feed room,” Harpootlian said. “They’re not controversial. They’re not going to opine on who killed who, when and how, just the mechanics of what happened.”

He asked the court to allow him to call them first on Friday, saying the potential cost of lodging them over the weekend could have a huge financial impact.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters objected to that idea, saying he did not want his cross-examination of Murdaugh to be interrupted and Newman agreed.

Harpootlian then raised one further objection about the state’s focus on Murdaugh’s financial crimes during cross-examination.

“I could have sworn this was a murder case,” Harpootlian said. “For two hours now, we haven’t heard the word murder once. I’m not criticizing the strategy. Obviously, denigrating his character, that is what this is about, but really not relevant to the issue of whether—”

Newman cut Harpootlian off at that point.

“Credibility is an issue and as relates to all witnesses in every case,” Newman said.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

The state wrapped up its cross-examination of Murdaugh Friday afternoon, leaving the remaining two defense witnesses for Monday morning.

When the defense rests, both sides will present their closing arguments and then the jury will begin deliberations.

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office charged Murdaugh with a misdemeanor on Friday afternoon. Deputies have not released specifics on the nature of the charge.

He faces 30 years to life if convicted of murder.

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