Alex Murdaugh trial updates: Testimony ends in double murder case. Jury headed to Moselle.

COLLETON COUNTY COURTHOUSE, WALTERBORO, SC - After 27 days, more than 70 witnesses – some called to the stand more than once – and hundreds of exhibits of evidence, testimony finally ended Tuesday in the double murder trial of disgraced lawyer Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, charged with killing his wife and child on the night of June 7, 2021.

Judge Clifton Newman will now guide the State and the defense through the final days of a legal journey that has included everything from a bomb threat to a GoFundMe controversy involving a juror. People around the English-speaking world and beyond have been following this case intently, and they may have a verdict by week’s end.

Surprised Alex Murdaugh took stand? Murdaugh lawyers long known for dramatic courtroom scenes

Jury to take field trip to the Moselle crime scene

The next step on this legal journey will be a 9:30 a.m. Wednesday “jury view” of the crime scene, Moselle, where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were graphically and violently slain.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Newman outlined the procedures and rules surrounding the jury’s “field trip.” Several bailiffs were sworn in to transport and escort the jurors and alternates to Moselle, where no one will be allowed to talk to them except the judge, nor can they ask questions of anyone but Newman.

The site visit will be restricted to just the dog kennels where the pair were slain, and nowhere else on the property. Law enforcement will secure the scene in advance to ensure onlookers and curious spectators are not on the scene.

In addition to Newman, attorneys for both sides will be present. Three members of the media will be allowed to visit as a media pool after the jury leaves, and they can stay for 30 minutes. That media pool will include a Court TV videographer, a pool photographer, and a print journalist selected at random: Valerie Bauerlein of the Wall Street Journal.

Alex Murdaugh double murder trial: Closing arguments begin Wednesday. Here's what to expect.

Evidence shown in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, February 2, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool
Evidence shown in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, February 2, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool

What’s next in Murdaugh murder case? Closing arguments to begin Wednesday.

Court is expected to resume Wednesday at 11 a.m. or shortly after, and aside from any last-minute motions or unexpected matters of law, closing arguments will begin around midday.

In closings, the State will present its closing argument in full, followed by the defense’s closing argument. The State will then have one final session to reply or rebut any new claims or new information the defense introduces in its closings.

Judge Newman has indicated that he is not included to set a time limit on closings, but each side indicated they would need roughly two hours.

Once final arguments are complete, Newman will “charge” the jury with instructions on the law and their duties, and the jury will begin to deliberate. It is mostly likely that the jury will have the case for deliberation by sometime early Thursday.

State calls final rebuttal witness to debunk Murdaugh’s experts

As its final witness, the State recalled forensic crime scene expert Dr. Kenneth Kinsey to dispute the findings of Murdaugh’s expert witnesses, including Michael Sutton, a crime scene analyst.

Murdaugh’s experts had insisted that Paul was killed by a contact wound to the top of the head “execution style” and that there were two shooters who were likely much shorter than Murdaugh.

At one point Kinsey called the opinions of Murdaugh’s witnesses “preposterous.”

The video below will play a replay of Tuesday's proceedings.

Tuesday p.m. updates in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial

As a bystander outside the Colleton County Courthouse waved a sign reading “Justice Is Coming Soon,” the State of South Carolina drove the final nails into its double murder case – and perhaps its coffin of criminal justice – against accused family killer Alex Murdaugh.

After both sides rested their primary cases earlier in a nearly six-week legal marathon that included more than 70 witnesses, the State was allowed to call several “reply” witnesses in a final rebuttal before closing arguments begin.

In addition to disputing scientific testimony from Murdaugh’s expert witnesses, these final State witnesses served to hammer home and reinforce a point prosecutors have made time and again throughout the trial: Murdaugh, after demonstrating a pattern of deceit, lies, manipulation and callous disregard for others during a decade-long crime spree, also lied to police early and often throughout this criminal investigation and prosecution.

Murdaugh’s former law partner Mark Ball added to the pile of apparent Murdaugh lies. Early in the trial, prosecutors disputed claims that Murdaugh checked for signs of life on both victims, his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, because he did not have any blood on his hands, clothes, or shoes – and he called 911 less than 20 seconds after arriving at the scene.

Ball testified that Murdaugh told him the same story – but inconsistently. First, Ball recalled, Murdaugh told him he went to Maggie’s body, then Paul’s, and attempted to roll his son over. At a later date, Murdaugh reportedly told Ball that he went to Paul first, and then to Maggie.

Former Hampton County Sheriff T.C. Smalls also took the stand and disputed one of Murdaugh’s claims. Last week, in response to Murdaugh’s claim that he lied to state police because he was paranoid and suspicious of them, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Murdaugh about his carrying of a 14th Circuit Solicitor’s badge and having blue emergency lights on one of his vehicles.

Murdaugh then testified that he had talked to several sheriffs, including the Hampton County Sheriff, and got permission to install the blue lights. But on the stand Tuesday Smalls said that he had never had such a conversation with Murdaugh, nor was he aware of anyone in his department doing so.

Nancy Grace is seen in the crowd during the Alex Murdaugh trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Tuesday, March. 28, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool
Nancy Grace is seen in the crowd during the Alex Murdaugh trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Tuesday, March. 28, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool

Continue the Murdaugh crime saga binge:After you finish Netflix's Alex Murdaugh series, continue on HBO, CNN, podcasts

Murdaugh’s former law partner Ronnie Crosby testified for a second time about Murdaugh repeatedly lying and deceiving clients that he later stole from, then added that the accused, disbarred lawyer had been known for using emotion in his closing arguments to win over or possibly manipulate a jury into giving the verdict he wanted. He described Murdaugh as having a “very theatrical presence” in the courtroom.

When Murdaugh was on the stand last week, he often looked straight at the jury members and openly wept when talking about how he loved his family and would never hurt them.

Other expert witnesses for the State were called to testify for a second time, including Medical University of South Carolina pathologist Dr. Ellen Riemer, who conducted the autopsy on the shooting victims. After the defense put two witnesses on the stand to dispute her findings, Riemer stood her ground and stuck by her report.

The State is expected to call one more expert witness after the lunch recess.

Tuesday a.m. updates in the Alex Murdaugh trial

On Tuesday, the State plans to call no more than five witnesses in “reply,” or rebuttal, of testimony and evidence presented by the defense in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial.

Court officials say that these witnesses could include Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey, and Murdaugh’s former law partners Ronnie Crosby and Mark Ball, who all previously testified.

Murdaugh, 54, is charged with murder in the deaths of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, but has steadfastly denied any involvement. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said he expects to wrap up the reply by Tuesday afternoon, although Murdaugh attorney Richard Harpootlian said he was skeptical of such a quick time estimate given the State’s pattern of presenting lengthy testimony during the five previous weeks of the trial.

Once the reply stage is completed, the jury is expected to visit the crime scene at Moselle, and then begin hearing closing arguments from both sides, which could take most of a full day.

The jury could be deliberating as early as Thursday, estimate court officials.

Alex Murdaugh murder trial: The State's evidence likely to impact the Colleton County jury

What evidence will have an impact on the Colleton County jury in the Alex Murdaugh trial, and will it stick? What is the State's most powerful evidence?

Here's Michael DeWitt's analysis of what may transpire this week in court.

Follow Michael DeWitt's coverage of the Alex Murdaugh trial on Twitter

A Twitter List by SEDOT_J_Orlando

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Murdaugh trial live stream, updates: State calling rebuttal witnesses