As his grandson stood trial, this portrait of the late 14th Circuit Solicitor Randolph ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr. was taken from the courtroom.
On Wednesday, a photograph of Alex Murdaugh’s grandpa was taken from the South Carolina courtroom where his trial began, serving as a heartbreaking metaphor of the once-powerful family’s decline.
As opening statements began in the trial of his grandson in Walterboro, the portrait of the late 14th Circuit Solicitor Randolph ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr. was ordered to be removed by Judge Clifton Newman.
Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of murdering his wife, Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, on the evening of June 7, 2021, at their expansive hunting property in Islandton, a rural town in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
The Murdaugh family dominated the Lowcountry for more than a century, with three generations serving as elected solicitors, as district attorneys are known there, in the 14th Circuit from 1920 to 2006.
Alex Murdaugh worked as a part-time prosecutor in the same office until he was charged with an astonishing network of alleged crimes, including embezzling millions from clients and partners, murdering his wife and children, and attempting suicide by hitman for an insurance benefit.
Alex Murdaugh grows emotional upon seeing his family in the courtroom as his double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro begins.
In a courtroom of the Hampton County courthouse, portraits of previous solicitors Randolph Murdaugh Sr., Randolph Murdaugh aka Buster Murdaugh, and Randolph Murdaugh III are displayed.
The Murdaugh family dynasty was founded by Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather Randolph Murdaugh Sr., who was elected solicitor for South Carolina’s 14th Judicial Circuit in 1920. The 14th Judicial Circuit encompassed five counties.
Murdaugh Sr. died on July 19, 1940, when his car unexpectedly stopped at a railroad crossing in the middle of the night as a train approached.
According to the Greenville News, the train engineer later testified that the car had stopped before reaching the rails, but then, as the train approached, it surged forward and stopped directly on the track.
There were rumors of suicide or that a medical issue or alcohol had a role, but the death was officially deemed accidental.
Randolph ‘Buster’ Murdaugh Jr., the son of Murdaugh Sr., brought a wrongful death complaint against the railroad, which was settled out of court for an unknown amount.
Murdaugh Jr. succeeded his father as solicitor and ran unopposed in all but two elections throughout his 46-year term, from 1940 to 1986.
In turn, his son Randolph Murdaugh III replaced him in 1986 and ran unopposed until his retirement in 2006.
There are railroad tracks in Hampton County.
Murdaugh Sr. died on July 19, 1940, when his automobile unexpectedly stopped at a railroad crossing as a train approached during the night.
Murdaugh III passed away from cancer in June 2021, few days after Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son were murdered by gunfire.
Alex Murdaugh’s alibi after the murders was that he was seeing his father in the hospital, but prosecutors believe mobile phone evidence placed him at the crime site.
During Wednesday’s opening statements, Alex Murdaugh wept when the prosecutor stated that a “family weapon” was used to murder his wife and that gunshot residue was detected on his seatbelt.
The prosecutor, Creighton Waters, described to the jury how Murdaugh shot his son with buckshot before grabbing an AR-15-style rifle and shooting his wife Maggie twice in the head.
Maggie Murdaugh was slain by a family heirloom, according to Waters.
Following the murders, Murdaugh’s mother discovered gunshot residue on a raincoat at her residence.
He added that gunshot residue was found on the seat belt of his vehicle.
Alex Murdaugh is pictured with his wife Maggie and two of their children, Paul (left) and Buster.
In a file photo, simple monuments mark the graves of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Margaret, in the Hampton Cemetery.
Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian, meanwhile, stated that it was ‘unbelievable’ that he could have so callously ‘butchered’ his kid and ‘executed’ his wife, portraying Murdaugh as a ‘loving’ father and husband.
Murdaugh appeared inconsolable as his attorney Dick Harpootlian explained how he saw his kid laying in his own blood with his brains at his feet, shot to hell, upon his return home. According to Harpootlian, Paul’s skull absolutely exploded.
Murdaugh, who was charged by a grand jury in July for the killings of his wife and kid, denies two counts of murder and two counts of weapon possession.
Murdaugh shot Paul in the feed room of their hunting property at approximately 8:50 p.m., first with buckshot to the chest and shoulder, and then with a second shot to the head, causing catastrophic injuries.
Murdaugh, in the center, and his legal team stand as double murder trial judge Clifton Newsman enters the courtroom
Murdaugh carries a tissue while speaking with his attorney, Jim Griffin.
Moments afterwards, he allegedly took up an AR-15-style weapon loaded with.300 Blackout ammunition and fatally shot his wife Maggie twice in the lower body and twice in the head.
Waters stated that the victims were completely unprepared. “They were shot at close range and had no defensive wounds,” Waters explained to the jury.
Richard, also known as Buster, Murdaugh’s surviving son, is scheduled to testify against his father and was present in the courtroom for the horrible opening comments.