By Beth Hemphill
COLUMBIA, S.C. (Court TV) — Attorneys were dismissed almost as soon as they arrived to the Richland County Courthouse for a motions hearing related to the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh. After initially agreeing to waive Murdaugh’s court appearance, the defense later told they wanted him to be present. Attorneys agreed to reconvene Friday, Dec. 9 with Murdaugh present.
The disbarred South Carolina attorney was charged with killing his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son Paul. Murdaugh, 54, also faces charges related to dozens of financial crimes, including allegedly stealing nearly $420,000 from the law firm founded by his prominent legal family.
In December, Murdaugh’s defense team filed four motions related to his alibi, alleged blood splatter on Alex’s shirt, photographic evidence used by the prosecution and a motion for Murdaugh to remain unshackled in the courtroom during his trial, set to take place in January 2023.
The defense maintains Alex was at his mother’s house at the time the murders took place. According to the defense, Murdaugh left his home around 9pm on June 7, 2021. He made phone calls on the way to and from his mother’s home, before discovering the bodies of his wife and son, at approximately 10:05 pm.
SHIRT BLOOD SPATTER REPORTS
There were conflicting reports from Tom Bevel, the forensic analyst who specializes in bloodstain pattern analysis, about whether Alex Murdaugh’s shirt had blood spatter stains.
The first report states there were no stains consistent with blood spatter from a gunshot. However, after seeing photos of the shirt provided by a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent, Bevel changed his mind, claiming there were over 100 stains. Confirmatory blood testing done by SLED was negative for human blood, and none of Paul’s DNA was found on the shirt.
The defense was also never able to conduct any of their own tests on the shirt after it was effectively destroyed from all of the State’s testing.
Since they were unable to do any tests, the defense is also requesting the State produce all communications with Bevel related to his shirt analysis, as well as the Photoshop files responsible for Bevel changing his expert opinion.
Court TV’s Emily Kean contributed to this report