US

Alex Murdaugh Trial Out of the blue Stops After Stunning Jury Revelations

A listening to to find out whether or not a brand new homicide trial shall be set for Alex Murdaugh got here to a short halt on Monday when the choose revealed that jurors had been listening to courtroom proceedings within the jury room through their cellphones.

Murdaugh is at the moment serving two life sentences for fatally taking pictures his spouse, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh, on June 7, 2021, at their residence in Colleton County, South Carolina.

Hailing from a strong authorized dynasty in South Carolina, Murdaugh’s trial gripped the nation when it unfolded earlier this yr. He is also dealing with a string of fraud expenses after being accused of stealing tens of millions of {dollars} from his purchasers. Nevertheless, Murdaugh’s authorized group claims that Colleton County Clerk of Courtroom Becky Hill improperly influenced the jury by telling them to not imagine Murdaugh’s testimony, which led to his conviction.

On the Monday listening to to find out whether or not Alex Murdaugh will get a brand new trial, Decide Jean Toal, a former South Carolina Supreme Courtroom Chief Justice, introduced that the jurors had been listening to the proceedings through their cellphones within the jury room. Because of this, they might have heard questioning of certainly one of their fellow jurors, recognized as Juror Z, who testified that her responsible verdict was influenced.

Proceedings got here to a short lived cease as Toal knowledgeable authorized counsel of the information, after which she mentioned she deliberate to query the jurors.

Alex Murdaugh photographed on February 10, 2023, in Walterboro, South Carolina. Murdaugh’s trial was paused after stunning revelations concerning the jury on Monday.

Joshua Boucher/The State/Tribune Information Service/Getty

Lawyer Mandy Powers Norrell informed Newsweek that she doubts the information can have an affect on the listening to’s consequence, however she mentioned the state of affairs was “very irritating” and he or she expects it to return up in an enchantment later. Powers Norrell isn’t concerned with the case.

“The entire purpose for having jurors sequestered and having the primary juror’s testimony embargoed was that the courtroom didn’t need any juror to be influenced by the testimony by one other juror,” Powers Norrell mentioned.

Though it is unsure how the information may influence the results of the listening to, Toal mentioned she deliberate to renew proceedings shortly. Counsel requested a five-minute recess, which Toal permitted, however she confused that counsel hold the break quick.

“I am not going to take all day on this factor,” Toal mentioned. “I want to only relax a bit bit, however I inform you, do not take any lengthy time frame.”

Newsweek reached out to Murdaugh’s authorized group by e-mail for remark.

“The stunning information about jurors streaming the listening to on cell telephones within the again has precipitated the choose to take a break,” NewsNation correspondent Brian Entin posted on X (previously Twitter). “Everyone seems to be asking one another within the courtroom what this implies massive image.”

Jurors had been known as in to testify one after the other. Throughout testimony, Juror Z detailed Hill’s actions and admitted that she was influenced.

“She made it seem to be he was already responsible,” Juror Z mentioned, in accordance with the Related Press.

Nevertheless, the opposite jurors weren’t permitted to listen to the testimony.

“The actual fact the jurors had been sitting within the again room streaming the listening to is stunning,” Entin mentioned in one other put up on X. “they had been being known as in one after the other … and never supposed to listen to what one another had been saying or the arguments being made by the legal professionals.”

The jurors’ cellphones have since been confiscated.

Replace 1/29/24, 11:57 a.m. ET: This text was up to date with further info.

Replace 1/29/24, 12:57 p.m. ET: This text was up to date with feedback from lawyer Mandy Powers Norrell.