The judge in Alex Murdaugh's murder trial blasted the courtroom gallery on Friday after a spectator allegedly leaked gruesome autopsy photos not meant for public viewing. Judge Clifford Newman issued a warning against sharing them after the grisly autopsy images of Maggie and Paul's bodies were mistakenly shown during the trial.
The photos mistakenly appeared on one of the many trial livestreams when a member of the prosecution's team flashed the images up on his computer while questioning pathologist Dr. Ellen Riemer. This came as Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the 2021 grisly double murder of his wife Maggie and Paul Murdaugh and was sentenced to life on Friday.
Distasteful Breach of Privacy
Blasting the courtroom, Newman also compared the situation to that of Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Kobe Bryant, who filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles authorities for allegedly releasing photos of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of her husband and daughter.
According to The New York Post, WGN News mistakenly published the photographs during a livestream.
After handing down Alex Murdaugh with two consecutive life terms in 2021 for the deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, Newman addressed the images.
"There is a complaint now regarding the posting of autopsy photographs, they came from within the courtroom, based on the direction of the photographs," Newman said.
The graphic photo shows Maggie Murdaugh dead and with an entrance wound just below her left ear.
"It did not come from the audience, it came somehow from within the well of the court," Newman said.
"Of course one of the reasons that we've sought to seal graphic photos is because the parties have the right to privacy and a right to those matters not being publicly disclosed.
"If anyone has heard about the recent settlement that Kobe Bryant's wife just made with the Los Angeles County and others out there over certain disclosures, involving the death of Kobe Bryant, liability can be substantial and it's a risk, for the most part, that's not worth taking.
"We'll let everyone judge themselves accordingly," he said.
The photo was visible on one of the prosecution's computer screens during the state's closing arguments. Dr. Ellen Reimer a pathologist from the Medical University of South Carolina, returned to the witness stand to talk about the autopsy after a prosecuting attorney removed the screen's cover revealing the grisly photo.
In Bad Taste
The gruesome photos caught the attention of several livestream viewers, who shared them on Twitter. According to a New York Post report, a spokesperson for WGN said in a statement: "During Tuesday's hearing the pool camera reacted slowly during the presentation of certain photographic evidence, which was visible at a distance on-air for a few seconds.
"The pool camera was not operated by WGN-TV, and we have since removed the video from our streaming platforms."
Alex Murdaugh, 54, was found guilty in the six-week murder trial on Thursday after the South Carolina jury deliberated only three hours of deliberation,
The disgraced legal scion, who is also charged with 99 financial offenses, said "I'm innocent" at his Friday sentence.
Hours later, Alex Murdaugh was photographed in a new mugshot with his head shaved and donning a yellow jumpsuit after being checked into South Carolina's Kirkland Reception and Assessment Center on Friday evening.
The double murderer will spend the next 45 days in a solitary cell. Male offenders are housed at the facility, which has extreme security.
The death knell for a once-revered southern dynasty family and its disgraced patriarch was sounded earlier on Friday when Murdaugh was heckled as he left court after being given a life sentence for killing his wife and son.
Murdaugh will begin serving two consecutive life sentences for killing Maggie and Paul at the family's hunting lodge in June 2021.
There was quite a silence inside the courtroom on Friday, with Buster looking heartbroken when Judge Clifton Newman announced that his father will spend the rest of his life in prison. As the punishment was being read, his uncle John Marvin Murdaugh, the youngest brother of Alex, laid a comforting hand on his back.
Buster looked emotionless and put up a stony face through the six-week murder trial of his father but sources told the Post that he finally collapsed on Friday minutes after Alex Murdaugh's sentencing.
"Buster held up pretty well until the cameras were off him — but then he collapsed," a source who was at the Colleton County Courthouse when Murdaugh was found guilty of the grisly double murder, told the outlet.
"He was crying uncontrollably. The uncles [Alex's brothers, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randy Murdaugh] finally got him into a car."
Buster, who has been supportive of his father since his mother, Maggie, and brother, Paul, were killed on June 7, 2021, sat in silence in court on Thursday night as the verdict was announced.
The redhead testified in favor of the former attorney toward the end of the six-week trial. Alex Murdaugh received two life sentences for the killings of his wife and younger son.