Murdaugh judge warns against sharing graphic autopsy photos

Murdaugh judge warns against sharing graphic autopsy photos of Maggie and Paul that were accidentally shown during trial and compares case to cops releasing images of Kobe Bryant helicopter wreck

  • The autopsy photos were shown accidentally on a prosecutor’s computer screen
  • They were posted on Twitter by some who’d been following live streams of trial 
  • Judge Newman warned against sharing them as 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 during the 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 killer her husband and daughter. 

The photos of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were unintentionally shown on one of the many livestreams of the trial when a member of the prosecution’s team flashed them up on his computer while questioning pathologist Dr. Ellen Riemer.

Some viewers who’d been following the livestreams seized on the graphic images and shared them on Twitter. 

Today, after sentencing Murdaugh, Judge Newman warned against reposting them online. 

Judge Clifton Newman warned against the sharing of graphic autopsy photos that were accidentally shown in court during the trial

Maggie and Paul Murdaugh (right) were shot dead on June 7, 2021. During the trial, graphic autopsy images were shown 

‘Secondly, there’s a complaint now regarding the posting of autopsy photos that came from within the courtroom, based on the direction of the photographs, it came from within the well of the court.

‘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. 

It will be down to South Carolina law enforcement 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 poor weather warnings and flew accidentally into a Los Angeles hillside. 

In the aftermath of their deaths, gruesome photos of the crash site which showed some of their charred remains were leaked by members of the emergency services and police who first responded to the scene. 

Vanessa Bryant has been awarded $28.5million from Los Angeles County. She sued after images of the graphic helicopter crash where her husband and daughter’s remains were found were leaked

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, accepting a settlement this week of $28.9million.

Judge Newman also warned against harassing jurors who wish to remain anonymous. 

One has already come forward to explain how they reached 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 trailed Murdaugh as he left court unintentionally captured the jurors too. 

Their faces appeared on a livestream being watched around the world.

‘The jurors have a right to continue that privacy but they are not obligated to do so. It would not surprise me if jurors choose to come forward and to speak. 

‘They are encouraged to do so if that is their desire – I have no problem whatsoever with the jurors unmasking themselves and speaking with the media.

‘They have gone through a life changing experience. Should anyone attempt to harass or annoy them, please let me know and I will address the issue,’ Judge Newman said. 

Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.  

Murdaugh leaving court on Friday after being sentenced to life in prison 

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