O.J., Murdaugh trials show juries could be changing

(NewsNation) — After witnessing the O.J. Simpson trial that ended in an acquittal after roughly four hours of jury deliberations, NewsNation host Ashleigh Banfield says juries could be changing following the quick guilty verdict in the Alex Murdaugh trial.

The South Carolina disgraced attorney was found guilty in the murders of his wife and youngest son after just three hours of deliberations Thursday.

“Even though I heard this early verdict, I still thought they could have easily found him not guilty,” Banfield said on NewsNation’s “On Balance.” “It only takes one round around the table, that’s usually what a jury does when they go back and start deliberating for the first time. There’s no manual, they aren’t told what to do but they usually figure it out on their own.”

In comparison to the O.J. Simpson murder trial from nearly 30 years ago and other infamous trials, Banfield wondered if the trial shows that juries’ perceptions are changing.

“I was watching Dick Harpootlian (Murdaugh’s lawyer) throughout this trial, with his downhome southern folksy manner, right. And I thought, boy, have I ever seen a lot of trials where juries just eat that up,” Banfield said. “It’s their local homeboy and they love that and they feel a kinship to that kind of performance and Creighton Waters (South Carolina prosecutor) wasn’t that way. He was more a matter of fact, he was kind of brusque, and it makes me wonder if juries are kind of changing. ‘Don’t feed me a line of personality, give me the goods.'”

The jury in the double murder trial reached a verdict at 6:41 p.m. ET, just hours after they began deliberations.

Prosecutors took more than a year to charge the disgraced lawyer with murder, but they ultimately decided not to pursue the death penalty. He was also charged with about 100 counts of financial and other crimes related to his legal practice and funds that he admitted he stole.

Authorities said Paul Murdaugh, 22, was shot twice with a shotgun, each round loaded with a different size shot, while Maggie Murdaugh, 52, was struck with four or five bullets from a rifle. A crime scene report suggested both victims were shot in the head after initially being wounded near dog kennels on the Murdaughs’ sprawling rural property.

Attorney Eric Bland, who represented the family of one of Murdaugh’s fraud victims, wasn’t surprised by the verdict. He believes there’s a lot to be said about “South Carolina soil,” the state’s lawyers and its juries.

“This was not going to be an O.J. Simpson jury,” he said Thursday on “CUOMO.” “This was a jury that listened to the evidence and really understood that power and privilege was on trial as much as Alex Murdaugh.”

You can watch the analysis above.

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