Murdaugh judge warns against sharing graphic autopsy photos of Maggie and Paul accidentally shown at trial and compares case to police releasing footage of Kobe Bryant’s helicopter wreck
- The autopsy photos were accidentally shown on a prosecutor’s computer screen
- They were posted on Twitter by some who had followed the live streams of the trial
- Judge Newman warned against sharing it when he sentenced Murdaugh today
Before adjourning the Alex Murdaugh case today, Judge Clifford Newman warned against sharing graphic autopsy photos of Maggie and Paul’s bodies that were accidentally shown at trial.
He also compared the case to that of Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow who sued Los Angeles officials for leaking photos of the helicopter crash that killed her husband and daughter.
The photos of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were inadvertently shown on one of the many live streams of the trial when a member of the prosecution’s team flashed them on his computer while attending pathologist Dr. Ellen Riemer questioned.
Some viewers following the live streams grabbed the graphics and shared them on Twitter.
Today, after Murdaugh’s sentencing, Judge Newman warned against posting them online again.
Judge Clifton Newman warned against sharing graphic autopsy photos accidentally shown in court during trial
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh (right) were shot dead on June 7, 2021. Graphic autopsy images were shown during the trial
“Second, there is now a complaint about posting autopsy photos that came from the courtroom, based on the direction of the photos it came from the pit of the court.
“Of course, one of the reasons we’ve tried to seal graphic photos is that the parties have a right to privacy and a right not to disclose those things.
“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 revelations involving Kobe Bryant’s death, the liability could be significant and it is for the most part share a risk that is not worth taking.
“We let everyone judge themselves accordingly,” he said.
It is up to the South Carolina Police Department to investigate the leak.
Bryant and his daughter Gigi were tragically killed along with seven others on January 26, 2020, when their helicopter pilot ignored bad weather warnings and accidentally flew into a Los Angeles hillside.
In the aftermath of their deaths, members of the emergency services and police, who were first on the scene, leaked gruesome photos of the crash site showing some of their charred remains.
Vanessa Bryant received $28.5 million from Los Angeles County. She sued after footage leaked of the graphic helicopter crash where the remains of her husband and daughter were found
Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed along with seven others when their helicopter crashed on January 26, 2020
Bryant’s widow Vanessa successfully sued Los Angeles County and this week accepted a $28.9 million settlement.
Judge Newman also warned against harassing jurors who wish to remain anonymous.
One has already come forward to explain how they arrived at their verdict and why he thought Murdaugh was guilty all along.
But the others, Judge Newman said, were entitled to anonymity.
During one day of the trial, a courtroom camera that followed Murdaugh as he left the court inadvertently captured the jurors as well.
Their faces appeared on a live stream that was viewed around the world.
“The jurors have the right to maintain that privacy, but they are not obligated to do so. I wouldn’t be surprised if jurors choose to come forward and speak.
“They are encouraged to do so if they wish – I have no problem with the jurors exposing themselves and talking to the media.
“They went through a life-changing experience. Should anyone attempt to harass or annoy them, please let me know and I will address the matter,” Judge Newman said.
Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
Murdaugh will leave court on Friday after being sentenced to life in prison