During the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, a disbarred South Carolina attorney accused of shooting and killing his wife and kid in June 2021, the defense presented forensic specialists who disputed the validity of the gunshot evidence and autopsy images.
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, Murdaugh’s wife and son were shot and died in the dog kennels of the family estate on June 7, 2021; he has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and 99 offenses related to financial malfeasance.
On Monday, forensic pathologist Jonathan Eisenstat and blood spatter expert Tim Palmbach were among the 14 witnesses called by the defense. Both witnesses refuted details from Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s autopsies.
From what he could tell, Paul Murdaugh was shot in the head from behind, with the barrel of the gun placed against his skull, as stated by Eisenstat.
Alex Murdaugh was spotted sniffling and wiping his tears with a tissue during the testimony, which featured grisly photographs of the victims’ bodies and autopsies.
According to Eisenstat, it appeared as though Paul Murdaugh was shot from above, with the gun pointed down; this could mean that the shooter was taller than Murdaugh, but it is not certain.
Palmbach stated that, given the proximity of the incident, the shooter would have been smeared in gunshot residue and bodily fluid.
While claiming in his indictment that he had not gotten blood on his shirt, Alex Murdaugh testified otherwise. However the prosecution has pointed to a Snapchat video showing Alex Murdaugh in a different outfit than the one he was found in by police, and the first outfit was never found.
In his testimony, Palmbach indicated that the facts point to a “two-shooter scenario.” He claimed that if there were only one gunman, whoever shot Paul Murdaugh would have been too dazed or hurt by the explosion to turn around and kill Maggie Murdaugh.
Palmbach has stated his belief that Paul Murdaugh was shot first with the shotgun, followed by Maggie Murdaugh with the rifle.
That gunman “is therefore, for a limited amount of time, out of this,” Palmbach added. They can’t just “suddenly suffer that,” “drop the shotgun,” “race to wherever the blackout rifle is,” and “take that up” in time to launch a “serious assault,” as the saying goes.
When the prosecution presents a few more witnesses in rebuttal on Monday, both sides plan to make their closing arguments on Wednesday before the jury begins deliberations, according to defense attorney Dick Harpootlian.
On Monday, the trial that started on February 17th entered its twenty-fifth day. The prosecution presented 61 witnesses and relied heavily on circumstantial evidence, such as videos that allegedly show Alex Murdaugh at the scene of the crimes in the moments before they were committed, data from both missing and recovered cellphones, and trace amounts of gunpowder.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors have also contended that Murdaugh, a member of a wealthy family that has long dominated the legal business, murdered his relatives in an effort to cover up his financial crimes, which they say included defrauding customers and his firm out of millions of dollars.
Very unusual to have graphic color autopsy photos shown to jurors. Defense not objecting because helps their argument not believable Alex Murdaugh would gruesomely murder Maggie and Paul because of money troubles. State offers these photos to show manner and severity of crimes.… https://t.co/ZWozgAfWsB
— Charlie Condon (@CharlieCondon) February 13, 2023
The attorney has testified on Thursday and Friday, denying he murdered his family. He denied ever having shot his 52-year-old wife Maggie or his 22-year-old son Paul.
But he acknowledged to lying to his surviving son, Buster, and other family members about where he was and what happened the night his wife and son were murdered.
The murder scene of Murdaugh’s wife and kid, who were killed in June 2021, will be seen by the jury. The jury will be allowed to travel to the Murdaughs’ estate, Moselle, at a future date set by Judge Clifton Newman. In preparation for the arrival of the jury, the defense has asked that police officials bar any guests from touring the estate.
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