Alex Murdaugh Trial: What We Learned on Day 1

The trial of a former lawyer accused of killing his wife and their youngest son is set to get underway after jury selection began this week.

The process of selecting the jurors and alternates began on Monday for the high-profile trial of Alex Murdaugh, 54, who is accused of fatally shooting his wife Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh.

The pair were killed on June 7, 2021, with Alex Murdaugh calling the cops to say he had found their bodies at their home in Colleton County, South Carolina. Murdaugh, who denies their murders, is also facing a string of fraud charges after being accused of stealing more than $6 million from his clients. He has previously said his problems stemmed from a 20-year opiate addiction.

Murdaugh's murder trial is expected to last for up to three weeks.

Alex Murdaugh Denied Bond
Jury selection for the trial of Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of murdering his wife and son, began on Monday. Mic Smith/AP Photo

His lawyers are now seeking to strike details about other alleged bad behaviour from the case, according to the Associated Press, arguing it's an attempt by the prosecution to smear their client because their case is weak.

But the most significant development to emerge from the court so far has been the revelation that slain Paul Murdaugh sent a Snapchat video to friends not long before he's believed to have been murdered.

A motion filed by the South Carolina state attorney prosecuting Murdaugh suggests the team believes it to be a "critical" part of the evidence that could help them argue their case as they seek to win a guilty verdict.

The news channel CNN noted that it was the first time the Snapchat footage had been mentioned during the legal process, after it was reportedly provided by Snapchat as the result of a search warrant.

"Amongst other things, critical to the case is a video sent out to several friends at approximately 7:56 PM on the night of the murders," according to the filing written by state prosecutors. "The contents of this video is important to proving the State's case in chief."

The contents of the video aren't described in the filing, so it remains unclear exactly what unfolds during the footage.

But the timing itself is significant, because previous court documents submitted in October said the mother and her son were killed between 8:30 p.m. and 10:06 p.m.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters used the motion to request that a representative from social media platform Snapchat appear in court to "testify in person that the video is a true and accurate record kept in the normal course of business activity."

Judge Clifton Newman ruled in favor of the motion.

At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was set to go on trial himself for a charge of boating under the influence, after allegedly causing a fatal crash that killed his friend, 19-year-old Mallory Beach, in February 2019.

The scandal-hit Murdaugh family, which boasted several generations of prominent lawyers, was featured in an HBO documentary series called Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty. Publicity blurb for the show, which aired in November 2022, said it "questions the unchecked power of privilege—and the trail of death and destruction left in one family's wake."

Newsweek reached out to prosecutors and Alex Murdaugh's legal team for further information about the trial. Murdaugh's lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, said he was unable to comment at present.

The jury selection continues.