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Alex Murdaugh’s High-Profile Murder Trial Evacuated Following Bomb Threat
Everyone at the Colleton County courthouse in South Carolina was forced to evacuate after someone called in a bomb threat on on Wednesday — which was day 11 of disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh's trial for the murders of his wife and son.
Authorities have confirmed that a bomb threat was called into the courthouse during Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial.
South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman calmly ordered the Colleton County courthouse to be evacuated at around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, as reported by multiple outlets.
“We have to evacuate the building at this time,” Newman told a packed courtroom, according to NBC News. “We’ll be in recess until we know what’s going on.”
The details are still unfolding, though a bomb threat was confirmed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), according to Fox News.
“A bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel,” said a SLED spokesperson. “The building has been evacuation, and SLED, along with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, are investigating the threat.”
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office stated the threat was “phoned in,” according to USA Today.
Alex Murdaugh — the defendant accused of his wife and son’s shooting deaths on June 7, 2021 — was led out by authorities via a rear exit before police drove him away from the courthouse. As for the location of the judge and jury, that remains unclear.
A police officer on the scene told People, “This is very serious. Until we know what’s going on, everyone needs to stay a safe distance away.”
Murdaugh, a once-prominent attorney from a family of generations of attorneys, remains at the center of a far-reaching investigation that includes accusations of financial fraud, substance abuse, conspiracy and allegedly hiring a hitman to kill him so that his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could inherit millions.
On Tuesday — day 10 of the murder trial — jurors heard the testimony of Jeanne Seckinger, the Chief Financial Officer at Murdaugh’s law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, and Detrick. She testified that, on June 7, 2021, she confronted Murdaugh about missing money totaling more than $2.8 million.
That same day, Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret “Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and son, Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found shot to death near the dog kennels of their sprawling estate. Prosecutors say Murdaugh allegedly committed the double homicide to keep investigators from potentially looking too closely at his business, which was founded by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather.
Another witness testified before the courthouse was evacuated that she recognized Alex Murdaugh’s voice in the background of a video taken by Paul Murdaugh, according to Fox News. Experts testified the video shows Paul letting a dog out at the kennels — near where Maggie and Paul were found dead — which prosecutors say puts Alex at the crime scene.
Annette Griswold, a secretary from Murdaugh’s law firm, also read to the jury texts that she allegedly received from Murdaugh when he entered a drug rehabilitation center months after the murders, according to Fox News. They were dated Sept. 26, 2021, weeks after he allegedly tried to stage his own suicide.
“The better I get, the more guilt I have,” the texts read in part. “I have an awful lot to try to make right when I get out of here. The worst part is knowing I did the most damage to those I love the most. I’m not sure how I let myself get where I did.”
Those present for the legal proceedings waited outside the courthouse following the evacuation as local police set up a perimeter, according to People. A heavy police presence remained, according to Fox News, even after attendees began lining up to reenter the courthouse at around 2:30 p.m.
It is still being determined when the trial will resume or how the event will affect future legal proceedings.