Alex Murdaugh juror reveals final moments deliberating verdict, how dog kennel video proved key to the case

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A South Carolina juror in the Alex Murdaugh case told Fox News Digital that faith got the jury panel through an extremely difficult trial and called the dog kennel video a “crucial piece of evidence” as they deliberated the case.

James, who asked that his last name be withheld, said the panel prayed together before entering the courtroom Thursday evening to deliver a verdict of guilty on all counts, sending Murdaugh to prison for the rest of his life.

“We prayed together. We prayed before we went in, we prayed before we came out to give the verdict,” said James, who was known as juror No. 530 during the six-week Walterboro, South Carolina, trial. “That was a huge factor in us being able to sit comfortably with our decision.”

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A juror in the Alex Murdaugh trial is interviewed by Rebecca Rosenberg in Walterboro, SC, Friday, March 3, 2023. He is being identified only as "James."

A juror in the Alex Murdaugh trial is interviewed by Rebecca Rosenberg in Walterboro, SC, Friday, March 3, 2023. He is being identified only as “James.” (Rebecca Rosenberg/Fox News Digital)

Deliberations to a swift verdict

It took the panel less than three hours to convict the disgraced scion of a once powerful legal dynasty of fatally shooting his 22-year-old son Paul and his wife, Maggie, 52. 

James is 22, the same age as Paul when he was murdered near the dog kennels of the family’s hunting estate in Islandton June 7, 2021. 

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When the 12 jurors first got in the deliberation room, they took a vote, and it was nine for guilty, and three for not guilty, he said in an interview Friday.

Alex Murdaugh receives the maximum sentence of life in prison at the Colleton County courthouse  in Walterboro, South Carolina on Friday, March 3, 2023. Murdaugh was found guilty on all counts of murdering his wife and son.

Alex Murdaugh receives the maximum sentence of life in prison at the Colleton County courthouse  in Walterboro, South Carolina on Friday, March 3, 2023. Murdaugh was found guilty on all counts of murdering his wife and son. (Pool)

They calmly discussed the evidence going through everyone’s questions then took another vote, which was unanimous.

“We were all pretty sure we knew what had happened, and we knew who had pulled the trigger,” he told Fox News Digital, wearing a tie with a Constitution motif.

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He and 10 of the other jurors returned to the Colleton County Courthouse Friday and watched as Murdaugh, wearing a beige prison-issue jumpsuit and shackles, was handed a double life sentence.

The trial lasted six weeks, twice as long as predicted, and the jurors heard from 76 witnesses. 

Dog kennel video was critical

James, a graduate of Clemson University who works in construction, said all the evidence in the case was important, but the dog kennel video was particularly “crucial.” 

Murdaugh repeatedly told investigators, family members and friends that he didn’t go to the dog kennels the night of the murders.

But investigators retrieved a cellphone video from Paul’s phone in April 2022 that he had recorded at 8:45 p.m., four minutes before prosecutors say he and his mom were shot to death. 

The clip captured the voices of Maggie and Murdaugh in the background talking about their yellow lab Bubba catching a chicken in his mouth, shredding the family patriarch’s alibi and forcing him to take the stand to address the lie. 

“I think it’s incredible timing on Paul’s part,” James said. “I don’t think that anyone would have ever known that he was down there if it wasn’t for that video. I think that there’s a lot of evidence that points towards Alex, but I feel like that does solidify it.”

Alex Murdaugh, Morgan Doughty, Paul Murdaugh and Maggie Murdaugh. In a Netflix documentary that aired Wednesday, Doughty alleges that Paul physically abused her.

Alex Murdaugh, Morgan Doughty, Paul Murdaugh and Maggie Murdaugh. In a Netflix documentary that aired Wednesday, Doughty alleges that Paul physically abused her. (Courtesy of Netflix)

James said that Paul, in a way, helped solve his own murder.

“It says a lot that somebody that couldn’t speak, somebody that couldn’t be a witness was able to be a witness even after they passed away,” he said.

Visit to the murder scene bolstered prosecution’s case

The jury’s visit to the murder scene, known as Moselle, helped them flesh out the crime. Ironically, the excursion came at the request of the defense, but it may have bolstered the prosecution’s case.

The hanger and dog kennels are seen where the bodies of Paul Murdaugh and Maggie were found at the Moselle property on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Islandton.

The hanger and dog kennels are seen where the bodies of Paul Murdaugh and Maggie were found at the Moselle property on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Islandton. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool)

Based on the testimony from the experts, Murdaugh was standing near the doorway when he used a shotgun to fire the first, nonfatal shot to Paul’s chest, who was in the middle of the feed room.

The second shot came from a dramatic upward angle grazing Paul’s shoulder, entering his neck and blowing his brain out through the top of his skull.

The feed room where Paul Murdaugh was fatally shot at the family's sprawling hunting estate known as Moselle.

The feed room where Paul Murdaugh was fatally shot at the family’s sprawling hunting estate known as Moselle. (Fox News)

On the visit, James observed a one-inch threshold at the base of the feed room door that helped explain the second shot’s unusual trajectory. 

“I think if [Murdaugh] is looking at Paul, and he’s just shot a buckshot, which, if you’re not firm, it can rock you pretty good, I think he could have been unbalanced. And I think he could have tripped over that threshold and that puts him on the ground shooting up,” James said. “I think that makes sense to me for the angle of the shot.”

A juror in the Alex Murdaugh trial is interviewed by Rebecca Rosenberg in Walterboro, SC, Friday, March 3, 2023. He is being identified only as "James."

A juror in the Alex Murdaugh trial is interviewed by Rebecca Rosenberg in Walterboro, SC, Friday, March 3, 2023. He is being identified only as “James.” (Rebecca Rosenberg/Fox News Digital)

Murdaugh’s testimony didn’t decide the case

James said that that Murdaugh’s grueling two days on the witness stand didn’t decide the case.

“There was enough evidence there gathered by SLED (South Carolina Attorney General’s Office) and produced by Paul,” he noted. 

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But Murdaugh’s testimony did show the jurors how the disbarred attorney deceived people so persuasively and effortlessly by often combing the truth with a lie.

Alex Murdaugh's most recent mugshot. 

Alex Murdaugh’s most recent mugshot.  (South Carolina Department of Corrections)

James said that the prosecution’s argument that there was a “perfect storm” gathering, and Murdaugh was on cusp of a devastating financial reckoning was a good theme – but wasn’t a persuasive motive.

“I don’t think I’d ever be able to answer why somebody would do something like that,” he said. “But I know that there are people in the world that don’t make sense, and they do things without making it make sense. So I don’t know that there is an answer other than that it happened and that it shouldn’t have.”

Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, stands in the courtroom after his father Alex Murdaugh is found guilty on all counts for the murder of his wife and son at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 2, 2023. 

Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh, stands in the courtroom after his father Alex Murdaugh is found guilty on all counts for the murder of his wife and son at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 2, 2023.  (Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool)

He noted that prosecutors didn’t have to prove motive – and it was the actual evidence that sealed Murdaugh’s fate.

James added that he felt profound empathy for Murdaugh’s only living son, Buster, 26, and the rest of his family, who were fixtures in courtroom.

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“I don’t wish the position that they were in on anybody,” he said. “I felt for them, and I had no idea how they were feeling, but I know that it was not easy for them.”

Chris Eberhart contributed to this report.

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