The trial of a onetime prominent lawyer — accused of killing his wife and son in 2021. Began Monday with jury selection at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro.
In a parking lot across from the Colleton County Courthouse. Food trucks will gather an expected crowd of legal teams. law enforcement, news outlets and members of the public. From true crime enthusiasts to curious gawkers, all for a local newspaper. Titled “Trial of the Century”.
That trial — of Alex Murdoff, the scion of a well. Connected legal family accused of killing his wife Margaret. And their son Paul with a shotgun and a rifle — will begin Monday with jury selection. The trial frenzy is likely to last several weeks. And Court TV is broadcasting “gavel-to-gavel coverage”.
Since the evening of June 7, 2021, when Murdoff frantically called 911 to say he had found. His wife and son fatally shot near the dog kennels on their Colleton County estate. The story gained attention as an unsolved double homicide. But soon it The revelations revived widespread allegations of financial fraud. A hit-man-for-hire plot and drug addiction. And other strange deaths linked to prominent families.
Few trials in recent memory have made this region of South Carolina known as Lowcountry. Where for nearly a century, three generations of Murdoch fathers have wielded power. As top prosecutors for a handful of counties. But the perceived spectacle means that not only Marduff will be on display. So will the county seat of Walterborough, population 5,460.
“We didn’t ask for it, but it’s happening, and it’s here,” Scott Grooms. Walterboro’s director of tourism and downtown development, said last week. “We have to put our best face forward and take care of our guests.”
The logistics of pulling off a major trial were not lost on Grooms. A former television journalist who covered the 1995 trial of Susan Smith. The white South Carolina mother who falsely told police. That a black man had kidnapped her two infant sons in a carjacking. Admits that he drowned them in a lake. The Smith trial, fraught with racial overtones. Took place in the small town of Union. And brought a wave of international interest and outsiders clamoring to see the lake. Just finding a place to eat was a chore, Burr recalls.
But, he said, he didn’t want Walterboro to be caught flat-footed, and after Christmas. He posted on Facebook that the city was asking the court to set up a food truck.
Almost immediately, comments were divided:
“Clowns and concessions, now all you need to complete the three ring circus is a trapeze troupe.”
“It’s very disrespectful.”
“It’s good that our community is considered unprepared.”
The cost of the trial was not immediately available, but in a city with an annual budget of about $7 million. There are necessary costs, such as police overtime, portable restrooms. Signage and fencing that must be taken into account.
“We’re ready to roll with it — we have to be,” Grooms said. Later, on his way to a meeting, he glanced at the latest news on a cellphone. His eyes widening: Netflix had released a trailer for a docusery about the case. Titled “The Murdough Murders: A Southern Scandal.“
A twisted case
The Murdoff name is so deep in the Lowcountry that the Colleton. County Courthouse had to remove a portrait of Randolph. “Buster” Murdoff Jr. Alex Murdoff’s late grandfather. And a top prosecutor for 46 years, from the back wall of the courtroom during the trial. . . (Alex’s father, Randolph Murdoch III. Became seriously ill and died at age 81, three days after killing Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, adding to the intrigue.)
Alex Murdoff, 54, from neighboring Hampton County. Was in the Colleton County Courthouse. For years representing clients as a personal injury attorney.
About 900 jury summons notices went out in a county of about 38,600 people. With so much at stake, local officials want to run the process smoothly, so as not to trigger a mistrial.
Legal experts say jury selection is not routinely done in South Carolina, but this is not a simple trial. And Murdoff’s defense team and prosecution. Led by Creighton Waters, chief prosecutor for the state Attorney General’s Office. Will be especially strategic in seating jurors. If convicted, Murdoff could face life in prison without parole.