BLOG: Day 19: Jury hears crime scene reconstruction evidence

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 3:00 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 5:16 PM EST
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WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Prosecutors are nearing the end of their case against Alex Murdaugh, the disbarred Lowcountry attorney charged with the 2021 murders of his wife and son.

Murdaugh, 54, is accused of gunning down 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and their youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the family’s hunting property in rural Colleton County.

The trial began Wednesday morning with Judge Clifton Newman telling attorneys he would not allow the jury to hear testimony about the Sept. 4, 2021, shooting of Alex Murdaugh along the side of Salkahatchie Road in Hampton County less than three months after the double killing.

Newman said he would not allow the testimony because it was “a bridge too far” and the roadside shooting could not be considered a motive for the murders months earlier.

Thursday morning began much like the previous day with the defense arguing over the admission of the roadside shooting evidence.

Newman heard from defense attorney Jim Griffin as he argued that the door to allow the evidence had not been opened. Newman called the evidence “a bridge too far” Wednesday morning before reversing course after Griffin’s cross examination of Agent David Owen mentioned Curtis “Eddie” Smith.

“Then the defense decided to build a road over that bridge,” Judge Clifton Newman said.

Murdaugh told investigators he was changing a tire on the side of the road near Varnville when a man pulled off the road and shot him. But investigators eventually charged Murdaugh and a second man, Eddie Curtis Smith, of conspiring to defraud an insurance company. They allege Murdaugh hired Smith to fatally shoot him so that Murdaugh’s survivng son, Buster, would be the beneficiary of Alex Murdaugh’s life insurance policy.

Smith denied shooting Murdaugh.

READ RECAP: Judge reverses decision to exclude evidence, jury hears 3rd police interview

In bringing Smith’s name into the trial, Newman said Smith and the alleged insurance plot became fair game.

The state then called Kenneth Kinsey to the stand.

Kinsey was asked by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to recreate the crime scene from the night of June 7.

The defense had filed a motion to block Kinsey’s testimony before the trial began on the basis of blood spatter evidence in Kinsey’s report.

Prosecutors never mentioned the blood spatter during their questioning of Kinsey.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Kinsey testified to the locations of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh on the night of the murders as well as the potential location of the shooter.

Kinsey said Paul Murdaugh was standing about five feet inside the feed room when he was shot the first time in the chest. Paul would have then turned and walked toward the door of the feed room when he was shot fatally a second time, Kinsey said.

The breach of the shooter’s shotgun would have been inside the door for the first shot and the shooter would have been located outside and to the right of the feed room door during the second shot, Kinsey said.

The defense would question the angle and distance of the second shot to Paul Murdaugh, arguing that a shot fired at an angle of approximately 135 degrees would require the shooter to be really low to the ground or bent over. They questioned earlier testimony that it was fired from three feet away.

Kinsey testified that he had no way of knowing the exact distance or placement because he did not have the actual shotgun used and instead used blood spatter and damage to the door to draw his conclusions before adding he thought the distance was closer to two feet.

An impression on Maggie Murdaugh’s left calf was brought into question with Kinsey testifying it appeared to be a tire mark from one of the ATVs on the property.

Kinsey said the impression looked more like Maggie Murduagh backed into the tire versus being ran over by the ATV.

“In my opinion either that tire or a tire just like it cause that impression,” Kinsey said.

The state is still expected to rest this week and the defense would then present its case. After closing arguments, the jury will begin deliberations.