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Murdaugh murder trial: Who you need to know

Alex Murdaugh is facing a double-murder charge in a trial that has lasted a month. Here's a breakdown of the key players in the courtroom.

COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. — The murder trial against defendant Alex Murdaugh is underway. The former South Carolina attorney is accused of killing his wife and son in June 2021. 

There's a lot to keep track of when it comes to this complicated trial that’s receiving national attention.

The defendant called 911 on June 7, 2021.

"I need the police to bring an ambulance immediately," the audio captures Murdaugh on the line. "My wife and child have been shot badly."

Now, he’s facing murder charges in their deaths.

Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and his 22-year-old son Paul were found shot to death on the family’s property on the border of Colleton and Hampton Counties.

The prosecution

The South Carolina state grand jury and the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division have worked together to indict Murdaugh on the double-murder charges.

So, what is a state grand jury?

It's group of people that investigates and prosecutes complex cases in the state, overseen by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

In this trial, Creighton Waters is the chief attorney for the state grand jury. He's worked for the division for 24 years.

The defense

Two lead attorneys are representing Murdaugh.

Dick Harpootlian served as a deputy solicitor for the fifth judicial circuit for eight years and the solicitor for four years until 1995 prosecuting criminal cases. He then switched to the defensive side. He currently serves as a Democratic state senator in Richland County.

He’s working with attorney Jim Griffin.

Griffin is a trial and healthcare lawyer who has represented clients in civil and criminal courts. He worked as an assistant United States attorney for the state for two years and now runs a private practice.

Overseeing the trial is Judge Clifton Newman. Newman is an at-large judge for the South Carolina Circuit Court. He was elected by the state General Assembly in 2000 after spending 24 years as a practicing attorney and 17 years as assistant solicitor for Williamsburg County. 

Newman was also the judge in the trial of the Samantha Josephson, the University of South Carolina student who was murdered several years ago.

Newman will be presiding at the Colleton County Courthouse. 12 jurors will make a decision on whether Murdaugh will be sentenced to life in prison without parole in the double murder trial.

WLTX will be in Colleton County for trial coverage, so make sure to keep an eye on News 19 for all you need to know in the Murdaugh murder trial. 

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