Alex Murdaugh’s long-awaited trial for killing two people started on Monday, and his lawyers had one last request for the judge: Don’t let the prosecution talk about “blood spatter” in this case.
The defence motion, which was filed just before the disgraced 54-year-old lawyer went to the Colleton County courthouse for the first day of jury selection, wants to stop Orangeburg County Chief Deputy Kenneth Lee Kinsey from talking about “blood spatter on a white T-shirt Murdaugh wore the night his wife and son were killed” in June 2021.
Murdaugh’s team says Kinsey shouldn’t be allowed to testify because he said in his report that he couldn’t say whether or not there was blood on the shirt because forensic tests supposedly ruined it. Hours later, the defence filed another motion to keep Tom Bevel from testifying. Bevel is a former Oklahoma police officer who now runs a self-described forensic education company. He said that “100+ stains are consistent with spatter on the front of the T-shirt.”
In the motion, they also said that if their request to keep Bevel’s testimony out of court was turned down, they wanted a hearing on the blood spatter evidence before the trial. Bevel’s opinion of Murdaugh’s shirt is based on a “at-home’science fair’ experiment” that was done in Bevel’s “garage, kitchen, or wherever,” according to Murdaugh’s team.
It’s not surprising that Murdaugh’s lawyers want to keep two experts from testifying about what seems to be one of the most important pieces of physical evidence for the prosecution, especially since many legal experts told The Daily Beast that blood spatter analysis is a subjective science.
“I think this kind of evidence is more opinion than science, but it uses scientific principles and has been used before, so it will be allowed,” said Jose Baez, a defence lawyer who has represented Harvey Weinstein and Casey Anthony. “If the prosecution gives bad advice, it’s more a matter of bad advice than bad science.”
Prosecutors say that Murdaugh killed his wife, Maggie, and his son, Paul, in June 2021. They say he did this on purpose to keep up his “fantasy persona of wealth, respectability, and prominence,” which involved stealing millions of dollars from his clients and law firm over many years. Murdaugh is also charged with dozens of financial crimes and is accused of trying to fake his own death as part of a strange insurance scam.
The motion from Monday also had a number of attachments that explained in detail how Maggie and Paul Murdaugh died. The state’s crime scene expert said that Paul, who was 22 years old, was standing in the feed room of the dog kennels when he was shot in the chest and head. He fell forward and was shot again in the head. His 52-year-old mother, on the other hand, was shot five times, including once in the head, which killed her.
Based on bullet casing patterns and other evidence, the crime scene expert came to the conclusion that both Maggie and the shooter were moving when the shots were fired. Maggie was shot six times, the expert said.