Alex Murdaugh trial: juror dismissed for improper conversations


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Watch: Four dramatic moments from Alex Murdaugh trial

By Madeline Halpert

BBC News, New York

A juror in the high-profile US trial of a former lawyer accused of killing his wife and son has been dismissed for having “improper conversations” about the case.

Prosecutors argue Alex Murdaugh killed his relatives to distract from multi-million-dollar financial fraud crimes.

Judge Clifton Newman said one of the 12 jurors had discussed the case with people not involved in the trial.

The juror – No. 785 – was replaced by an alternate juror.

“Though it does not appear that the conversations were that extensive, it did involve the juror offering her opinion regarding evidence received up to that point in the trial”, the judge said.

The dismissal did not cause a delay in the trial proceedings.

Judge Newman said he spoke with the juror and two others believed to be involved, both of whom “waffled” about the nature and extent of the conversation.

“You have been by all accounts a great juror, and smiled consistently and seemingly been attentive to the case and performed well,” he told the woman in front of the court. “I’m not suggesting that you intentionally did anything wrong, but in order to preserve the integrity of the process and in fairness to all the parties involved, we are going to replace you with one of the other jurors.”

Judge Newman spoke before Mr Murdaugh’s lawyers were set to deliver closing arguments in the case.

The trial, which is now in its sixth week, has captured national attention, featuring claims of corruption, opioid abuse and a failed hitman suicide plot.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Murdaugh, 54, shot his wife, Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, in June 2021 to evoke sympathy and avoid a reckoning after committing financial fraud.

If convicted, Mr Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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