After convicting Alex Murdaugh of murdering his wife and son, three jurors from the trial spoke out in a TV interview on Monday. Annie Williams, Gwen Generette, and James McDowell, along with nine other jurors, all voted guilty after the six-week trial. Generette said that “It probably would have been a hung jury if it had not been for that video. It was like (Paul) spoke from the grave,” referring to the video at the dog kennel from the time of the murders, where the voices of Alex, Maggie, and Paul Murdaugh could be heard. “The kennel video, it was something he had lied about it,” said McDowell. “If he didn’t do it, how did he know what time to lie about not being there?” All three jurors admitted that it was a mistake for Alex Murdaugh to testify. Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison.
By Rebecca Rosenberg; March 6, 2023
Three jurors in Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial spoke out Monday in a TV interview and said that the dog kennel video and the disgraced family patriarch’s own testimony were critical in their decision to convict him of fatally shooting his wife and son.
Amie Williams, Gwen Generette and James McDowell sat through a grueling six-week trial in Walterboro, South Carolina, and heard from 76 witnesses. The trio – along with nine other jurors – voted guilty on all counts Friday after less than three hours of deliberations.
On NBC’s “Today” show, the jurors were asked what solidified the panel’s decision, which sent Murdaugh, 54, away for life.
“It probably would have been a hung jury if it had not been for that video. It was like he spoke from the grave,” Generette said of Paul.
Murdaugh gunned down his son, Paul, 22, and his wife, Maggie, 52, near the dog kennels of the family’s sprawling hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, known as Moselle, June 7, 2021.
The disbarred attorney, from a once powerful legal dynasty in the Lowcountry, repeatedly told investigators that he never went to the kennels the night of the murders.
However, Paul had recorded a cellphone video that captured Murdaugh and his wife’s voice in the background minutes before prosecutors say he shot them to death.
“The kennel video, it was something he had lied about it,” said McDowell. “If he didn’t do it, how did he know what time to lie about not being there?”
McDowell, who was selected as a juror even though his brother, a Colleton County deputy, responded to the murder scene and was one of the trial’s first witnesses.
He disclosed the connection to the court, but the defense and prosecution did not object to seating him.
Generette said she was stunned when Murdaugh decided to testify in his own defense and admit for the first time publicly that he was with the victims on the remote 1,700-acre property three minutes before their murders.
“I couldn’t believe that he was taking the stand,” she said. “And the kennel video, that just kind of sealed the deal.”
Generette added that she did not believe that Murdaugh’s frequent fits of sniffling and sobbing were sincere. “I didn’t think he was crying, he turned it on and off. It wasn’t genuine,” she said.
The trial featured weeks of evidence detailing Murdaugh’s theft of nearly $9 million from his law firm and his vulnerable clients to fuel a lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors argued that he killed his family to delay a financial reckoning that would have ruined his career and reputation.
“We could only consider it as part of the motive,” Williams said of the financial crimes evidence. “It helped show he was very convincing and manipulating, and it made sense.”
The TV journalists asked the jurors why Murdaugh did it.
“I don’t know if we will ever know,” Williams replied. “It may have been a combination of things, not just the financial, but everything was weighing heavy on him, I believe.”
The jurors were asked whether they would have voted for the death penalty had it been on the table.
“It would have been hard for me,” Williams said. “The family suffered a lot. I feel like this way he gets to think about and focus on what he did. That’s more of a punishment to have to live with that.”
The jurors returned to the courtroom the day after reaching their verdict to watch Judge Clifton Newman mete out his punishment. Newman handed Murdaugh the maximum two life sentences to be served consecutively.
“It was important for us to go back and see it to the end,” McDowell said.
In one of the few moments of levity during the trial, a juror who was dismissed asked if she could get her dozen eggs and purse before leaving, eliciting laughter from the courtroom.
Williams explained that another panelist had brought in three dozen eggs to give away, and the woman did not want to leave them behind.