Bloody footprint at Murdaugh murder scene was not from either victim, witness says
Alex Murdaugh’s defense team started the second week of the trial attempting to undercut the processing of the crime scene where Murdaugh’s wife and son were murdered, planting seeds of doubt about whether the state’s case around that evidence is ultimately reliable.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian on Monday used the state’s witness called to verify crime scene evidence to try to establish that responding deputies from Colleton County could have inadvertently contaminated the crime scene.
Harpootlian got State Law Enforcement Division analyst Melinda Worley to admit they identified one footprint found inside the dog kennels where Paul was shot was made by one of the first responders, not either of the victims, to the scene.
”One was not from Paul, not from the perpetrator but from an investigator,” Harpootlian underlined for the jury. “Walking through the scene in the dark increases the chances some trace evidence was disturbed or destroyed.”
Worley maintained in her testimony that the scene was well-documented by SLED experts who were called out to the scene late on the evening Paul and Maggie Murdaugh’s bodies were discovered.
Court adjourned last Friday with SLED analyst Worley cataloging the evidence collected at the crime scene the night Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot to death, June 7, 2021. The laborious process is meant to verify for the court that each photo or piece of physical evidence really originated from the Murdaugh family’s country estate, and that Worley either handled or at least saw the items at the time.
The process also shows just how much physical evidence investigators collected over the night of June 7-8, 2021 — photos of footprints and bullet holes, clothes and sneakers, shotgun shells and DNA swabs. Worley’s testimony took up most of Friday afternoon and she returned to the stand to continue to admit more evidence against Murdaugh on Monday.
The significance of all the evidence is yet unclear. Worley’s role on the stand so far has just been to get the state’s evidence admitted by Judge Clifton Newman, but she also established her expertise on analyzing footwear and tire treads, two areas of contention in the case so far.
First week of Murdaugh’s trial a showcase of shocking violence, evidence and emotion
Witnesses in the first week of the trial discussed footprints found at the scene. The state made the case last week that a footprint that was seen trailing through the dog kennel were Paul was shot was identified with the sandals Maggie was wearing at the time.
Worley also said investigators at the scene were able to examine tire tracks to and from the dog kennels on the large Moselle estate. Harpootlian suggested last week evidence of a vehicle used by Paul and Maggie’s killer may have been damaged or overlooked at the scene.
Investigators who testified last week said Murdaugh’s demeanor changed noticeably as they examined tire treads in the grass.
“(He) began to watch us work more closely, sometimes out of the corner of his eye,” Capt. Jason Chapman with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office testified Thursday. “After we moved away from the tires the demeanor changed, turned back to upset.”
The defense made the case Murdaugh’s behavior meant “that he thought you had some evidence to point toward the killer and killers?” Harpootlian said at the time.
Murdaugh remains on trial at the Colleton County Courthouse for the murder of his wife and son.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.