WALTERBORO, S.C. — Jury screening continued Tuesday in the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, who is charged with the murder of his wife, Maggie, and his youngest son, Paul.
Many jurors were dismissed for already forming an opinion on the case.
Some of the potential jurors included a woman whose children knew Buster Murdaugh, a man who attended a Murdaugh Christmas party and a man who explained he was a distant cousin of the Murdaugh family.
At the end of the day, 110 pre-qualified potential jurors remained. The selection of 18 jurors and alternates from the prequalified pool will begin Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Then, following the final potential juror panel this morning, pre-trial motions began around 2:45 p.m. Right before the afternoon hearing, in the courtroom, defense and prosecuting attorneys spoke with one another and also in their teams separately.
Lynn Murdaugh Goette, Alex Murdaugh's sister showed up to the pre-trial motions hearing. When she walked in, Alex smiled at her, walked over and extended his hand to her to shake hers and say 'hi.'
At the start of the motions hearing, Alex seemed calm and confident.
In the pre-trial motions hearing, attorneys, journalists, expert witnesses and family gathered in the Colleton County Courthouse to hear arguments on pre-trial motions for the Alex Murdaugh murder case.
The first was that of the blood spatter evidence. This was something both prosecutors and defense attorneys came to a compromise on.
"There are a number of motions that the defense has filed as it relates to a particular blood spatter expert, that being Tom Bevel," prosecuting attorney Creighton Waters said. "In conversations with the defense, we've agreed at this time that will not be discussed in opening or before the jury and, of course, we will alert the court when that testimony is approaching and have an appropriate in camera hearing at that time."
As for the mentioning of a boating death case involving Alex's deceased son Paul, one of the victims in this case, prosecution and defense attorneys wanted a ruling from Judge Newman.
This was something Judge Clifton Newman said he would have to decide on during the presentation of evidence during the trial.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said this evidence was only requested to be allowed by the prosecution to paint Alex in a bad light.
"There's not one shred of evidence there were any problems between any of them. There's texts, pictures, people that were with them the previous weekend at a ball game, video from that day with Paul and he having a good time, Harpootlian said. "There is no dispute anywhere that they were the perfect family in terms of their relationships - no divorce, no separations, no left him, no nothing, so this is a fabrication and they want to use what Mr. Griffin described as bad character evidence."
Another topic discussed in the courtroom was the gun evidence.
Creighton Waters and the prosecution team put Paul Greer, a SLED employee who conducted gun tests in the case, on the stand for questioning and cross examination on his qualifications to provide gun evidence testimony at the trial.
"Our casework at SLED is 100% microverified, and that means that another qualified examiner will look at the evidence, arrive at their conclusions and agree or disagree with me," Greer said.
The judge denied a request by Murdaugh's lawyers to prevent Greer from testifying that rifle cartridges found near his wife's body have marks indicating they may have been fired from the same gun that fired other cartridges found at a shooting range on the property. Prosecutors said a similar model gun remains missing from the Murdaugh home.
The defense said recent scientific advances show ballistics experts can't say with 100% certainty that there are unique markings linking a gun to a cartridge. Prosecutors said this kind of evidence is allowed in courtrooms all the time.
Greer explained there are matching mechanism marks on gun cartridge cases at the scene of this crime that indicate at some point they had been in the same chamber and gun. Defense attorneys though representing Alex Murdaugh challenged those conclusions.
The selection of 18 jurors and alternates from the prequalified pool will begin when court resumes Wednesday at 11 a.m.