A grinning Alex Murdaugh appeared in court Monday as jury selection began in the high-profile double murder trial.
Murdaugh — a former South Carolina attorney hailing from a powerful legal family — has been accused of gunning down his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, at the family’s Colleton County hunting compound on the night of June 7, 2021.
On Monday, the 54-year-old was spotted with a wide smile on his face, carrying a file folder, inside the courtroom as jury selection got underway.
More than 200 people made up the potential jury pool after 700 initial summons had been issued, according to The New York Post.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys have been tasked with trying to whittle that pool down to a jury of 12 people and six alternates who will serve on the double murder trial, which is expected to last about three weeks.
Juror candidates were questioned Monday about their background, relationship to members of the Murdaugh family and potential witnesses, and their ability to be objective, local station WSAV reports.
At least one juror was dismissed after admitting he couldn’t be impartial in the case because Murdaugh, a now disbarred attorney, had once sued his father, according to NPR.
In total, prosecutors and the defense team made their way through three groups of potential jurors on Monday. The fourth and final group will be questioned Tuesday before the final selections will be made.
Murdaugh hails from a powerful legal family who controlled the prosecutor’s office for South Carolina’s Fourteenth Circuit for 86 years, beginning in 1920, when his great-grandfather Randolph Murdaugh Sr. was elected to the post.
A portrait of his grandfather that used to hang in the courthouse has been taken down for Murdaugh’s trial.
Prosecutors have alleged that Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an attempt to cover up a series of alleged financial crimes he feared were about the come to light.
“Ultimately, the murders served as Alex’s means to shift the focus away from himself and buy himself some additional time to try and prevent his financial crimes from being uncovered, which — if revealed — would have resulted in personal, legal, and financial ruin for Murdaugh,” prosecutors wrote in court documents previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
The former attorney has been accused of stealing millions from his former law firm, legal clients and the family of his own housekeeper in a years-long alleged scheme to divert settlement money meant for others to himself. Murdaugh — who is facing around 100 criminal charges — has also been accused of running a drug and money laundering ring, tax evasion and enlisting the help of Curtis Smith to try to carry out a botched suicide attempt with the hopes of leave his surviving son $10 million in life insurance proceeds.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges against him and has continued to insist he didn’t shoot Maggie and Paul, who were both found dead near dog kennels on the family’s sprawling 1,700 acre hunting estate known as Moselle.
While few details of the murders have been released, prosecutors said last week that they believe a Snapchat video Paul sent to “several friends” at 7:56 p.m. on the night of his death is “critical to the case,” according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com. Prosecutors did not divulge any specifics about why that might be.
If convicted of the murder charges against him, Murdaugh is facing at least 30 years behind bars. Prosecutors have announced that they do not plan to seek the death penalty in the case.