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Crime News Family Crimes

Alex Murdaugh Murder Trial Juror Booted For Improper Conversations Outside The Courtroom

Before jurors began deliberations in Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial Thursday afternoon, a juror was removed and replaced with an alternate earlier in the day for having improper conversations outside the courtroom.

By Gina Salamone
The Alex Murdaugh Case, Explained

Before jurors began deliberations in Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial Thursday afternoon, a juror was removed and replaced with an alternate earlier in the day for having improper conversations outside the courtroom.

The switch took place before the defense began closing arguments in the case, in which the disgraced South Carolina lawyer is accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and their son Paul

RELATED: As Alex Murdaugh Double Murder Trial Nears Its End, Here Are The Key Takeaways

Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman said the juror denied having discussed the case when he spoke with her, but he added that two other people who were spoken to about their discussions with the juror "waffled on the nature and the extent of the contact," according to NBC News.

The judge added that the person who was booted, identified as juror No. 785, talked to at least three different people about the case, but not thoroughly. Newman said that those discussions included the juror "giving her opinion regarding evidence received."

Alex Murdaugh listens to testimony

Newman brought the juror into the courtroom to tell her of her dismissal after informing the court of the situation.

"You have been by all accounts a great juror, smiled consistently and seemingly been attentive to the case and performed well," he told the juror. "Thank you for your service. I'm not suggesting you intentionally did anything wrong, but in order to preserve the integrity of the process and in fairness to all the parties involved, we're going to replace you with one of the other jurors."

When Newman asked if she had any personal items she needed to grab before heading out, the dismissed juror answered that she had a dozen eggs in a back room in the court, NBC News reports.

The defense team then began closing arguments once she'd left and the jury had been brought in. 

Alex Murdaugh Takes The Stand

Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife and youngest son outside the dog kennels at the family’s Colleton County, South Carolina property on June 7, 2021. The pair were fatally shot.

Prosecutors have accused him of killing them to gain sympathy and delay investigations into his theft of millions of dollars as the financial crimes were about to come to light. 

The defense team has tried to cast doubt by arguing that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division messed up the investigation from the start by not properly securing the crime scene, and not taking footprint impressions in the area where the bodies were discovered.

Paul was hit with bullets from a shotgun, while Maggie was hit several times with an AR-style weapon. Neither gun has been found, but law enforcement said the weapons used to carry out the murders were a match for shell casings from guns owned by the family.

Taking the stand last week, Murdaugh admitted to lying to state law enforcement hours after the killings, and for 20 months after that, by saying he was not at the kennels with his wife and son before their murders.

Earlier this month, jurors were shown video from Paul's phone from the night he was killed that prosecutors claim proves that Murdaugh was with Maggie and Paul near the kennels mere minutes before they were murdered.

Murdaugh previously claimed to authorities that he was taking a nap at the main house at the time, before heading out to visit his sick mom in another town. A couple of Paul's friends testified during the trial that they were "100 percent" certain that one of the three voices heard in the video is that of Murdaugh's (the other two belonging to Maggie and Paul.)

Murdaugh testified in court last week that the reason he lied about being near the kennels that night was because of his opioid addiction, which he said clouded his mind and made him distrust authorities.

Murdaugh's attorneys pointed to that same video to argue their client's innocence.

"Four minutes later, the state would have you believe that Alex Murdaugh up and blew his son's brains out of his head," defense lawyer Jim Griffin said, according to NBC News. "Nothing on that tape indicates any strife, any anger, any planning, anybody being afraid, anybody running, any scurrying."

Griffin used his closing arguments to paint Murdaugh as a family man, and say that prosecutors had no direct evidence that he shot his wife and son. Jury deliberations began Thursday afternoon.

Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted. He's also charged with about 100 other crimes, including tax evasion and stealing from clients.