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Alexander Murdaugh murder trial begins in the Lowcountry

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The long-awaited Trial of the State of South Carolina versus Alex Murdaugh for the murder of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, began January 23.

But getting a jury of 12 of his peers to convict him may not be as easy as 1-2-3.

Creighton Waters heads the state's legal team. He arrived with a staff of about a dozen people from the Office of the Attorney General. Two women are on the prosecution team.

Murdaugh's defense team is headed by Dick Harpootlian, assisted by two other attorneys. There is one woman on their team. Harpootlian noted that his is a much smaller legal team.

Murdaugh appeared to be deeply engaged in everything that was being said and done during jury selection. He's tall, thin, and pale, with a shock of red hair fading into gray. As he entered the courtroom, a reporter yelled, "Why'd you do it, Alex?" He did not respond.

Walking around Main Street during my lunch break, I spoke to a few people who knew Murdaugh personally. They said he has always been pale with bright blue eyes, but noted his weight loss.

A throng of news media was assembled outside the Colleton County Courthouse, including Court TV; The Law & Crime Network; CNN; ABC News; NBC News; local and regional TV stations, as well as bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, and even a reporter from France.

Judge Clifton Newman asked potential jurors if they'd heard of the case. Everyone stood up. He then asked if they knew anyone who had a connection to the case, from first responders to attending physicians at Savannah Memorial Hospital and FBI and Secret Service agents. He also asked if they'd ever attended a social event hosted by the Murdaughs or held at a Murdaugh family property. If the prospective juror said he or she had a connection to the family, he asked if they felt they could be fair when considering Mr. Murdaugh's guilt or innocence. A few admitted that they could not. One man said he felt he could not sit in judgement of another man. Those individuals were excused.

The City of Walterboro's current branding and marketing campaign features a front porch flanked by red rocking chairs. A few weeks from now, this trial will end, and a verdict will be rendered. Until then, I hope nothing occurs here that will knock those chairs or this city off its rockers.

Vasilisa is an author, independent journalist, and communications strategist. Her website is

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