The Murdaugh Trial Is Getting Lots of Attention — Is the Jury Sequestered?
Although murder trials always come with a certain level of intrigue, it's very rare for a trial to be so saturated in the media that it requires a jury to be sequestered from the public.
Now, as Alex Murdaugh's trial for the murder of his wife and son continues, some are wondering whether the jury in the trial has been sequestered. Here's what we know.
Is the jury in the Alex Murdaugh trial sequestered?
According to WCBD, as of Wednesday, March 1, "A decision has not yet been made on whether the jury will be sequestered." Sequestration is a heavy burden, as it requires jurors to severely limit contact with the outside world for the duration of the trial, which in some cases can be several months or even more.
Still, there are many who think sequestration would be appropriate in this case, in part because of the amount of attention that the trial has been getting from the public. Netflix has even released a documentary called Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal that details the case, which any juror could theoretically watch in between days of the trial. The documentary would undoubtedly have an impact on how they view the facts of the case.
For a jury to be sequestered, though, they have to be provided with food and housing, which can be a considerable expense of the court. Given the release of the Netflix documentary and the continued public interest, it's still possible that a request could be submitted, but it hasn't happened yet.
Some legal experts would sequester the jury.
In an interview with News Nation Now, New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Andrew Napolitano said that he would have sequestered the jury.
“I would sequester them. The state’s entitled to a fair trial, the defendant is entitled to a fair trial," he said. "Neither should worry about the jurists being influenced by what they read in the newspapers or hear on television."
On March 2, one of the jurors in the case was dismissed for having "improper discussions" outside the courtroom.
One of the jurors in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial was removed and replaced with an alternate on the morning of Thursday, March 2. Judge Clifton Newman said the juror had "engaged in improper discussions outside the courtroom," per NBC News.
The juror, only known as juror No. 785, denied having these discussions, but two people who were interviewed about their contact with the juror "waffled on the nature and the extent of the contact."
Although it eventually became clear that the juror's discussions were not "extensive" regarding case matters, her contact with those outside the courtroom was still a concern for defense lawyer Richard Harpootlian.
A somewhat strange detail in the whole ordeal is that when the juror was dismissed, the judge asked her if she had anything of hers that she needed to take with her. She pointed out that she left a dozen eggs in the back room that she needed to collect. Hey, with the egg shortage and prices the way they are, you need to keep track of your eggs.
The jury visited the Murdaugh estate.
On March 1, the jury was taken to the Murdaugh estate in Islandton, S.C., where Alex's wife and son were found fatally shot in the summer of 2021.
The judge agreed to allow jurors to visit the property over objections from prosecutors, who said that it had changed since 2021.
The bodies were found near the kennels where the family kept their hunting dogs, and it wasn't the first time that a death had been associated with the property.
Gloria Satterfield, who had worked as a housekeeper for the Murdaughs, died about three weeks after she sustained an injury during a fall on the property. Over three years later, an investigation was opened into her death because of inconsistencies in how it had been reported.