One of 12 jurors in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial was ousted Thursday morning and replaced with an alternate after Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman said he engaged in inappropriate conversations outside the courtroom. of the court.
Newman said he spoke to the juror, identified as No. 785, and she denied discussing the case, but two other people were later interviewed about their contact with the juror and «were speechless about the nature and the extent of contact.
The jury eventually spoke to three people about the case, but not much, Newman said he found out, though it involved «giving your opinion on the evidence received.»
Defense attorney Richard «Dick» Harpootlian expressed concern about the jury’s actions and that South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, officers were present as the court investigated the situation.
«SLED has made another bad judgment in this case,» he said. «This is just a continuum of a calamity of mistakes.»
After explaining the situation to the courtroom before the defense began closing arguments Thursday morning, Newman brought the jury in and told them she would be fired.
«You have been, in every way, a grand jury, you smiled constantly and seemed to be attentive to the case and performed well,» he said, adding: «Thank you for your service. I’m not suggesting that you intentionally did anything wrong, but in To preserve the integrity of the process and to be fair to all parties involved, we will be replacing you with one of the other jurors.»
The judge asked the jury if she had any belongings she needed to take with her before she left, and she replied that she had a dozen eggs in a back room.
After she left, the jury sat down and the defense began their closing arguments.
Murdaugh, a leading personal injury lawyer in Lowcountry South Carolina, is accused of murdering his wife and youngest son in a plot to win sympathy and stop scrutiny of his financial crimes.
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