Watch CNN tonight at 9 ET for a CNN primetime special, “Inside The Murdaugh Murders Trial”
The massive estate, known as Moselle, has been at the heart of the trial – and played a big role in the Murdaugh family’s life before the grisly killings.
The 1,700-something acre property includes the house the family lived in for several years, as well as dog kennels, a cabin, and stretches of swamp lands, plotted fields and forests in which Murdaugh would go hunting for deer and other game with his two sons.
Murdaugh, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder, maintains he found his wife, Maggie, and younger son, Paul, fatally shot when he returned to Moselle from a visit to his sick mother on the night of June 7, 2021. Their bodies were found near the property’s kennels, where the Murdaughs kept their hunting dogs.
The judge agreed this week to let jurors view the property, despite opposition from prosecutors who said it has changed since the killings, including that trees have grown taller and thicker than what they were in the summer of 2021. Testimony in the murder trial ended on Tuesday, and closing arguments are expected later Wednesday.
According to a pool report, the 12 jurors and two alternates assembled at the Colleton County courthouse at 9 a.m. Wednesday, loaded into three transport vans and left for Moselle at 9:10 a.m. They were followed by security vehicles and other court personnel. The jury arrived at about 9:40 a.m. and left the property at about 10:30 a.m., the pool report stated.
During their trip, the jury was expected to have about 30 minutes to view the property, with the bulk of their time at the kennels and shed where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed, according to the pool report. The jurors also were expected to be taken to the main house to view the outside of the building.
Here’s a close look at what we know about the Moselle estate.
The Murdaughs purchased the Moselle property around 2012, Buster Murdaugh, the defendant’s surviving son, testified in February.
The family had been living in Hampton, South Carolina – a roughly 20-minute drive from Islandton – but after that house sustained damage during a hurricane, they relocated to the Moselle home, Buster Murdaugh told the court.
Much of the Moselle property was “really not even accessible,” the 26-year-old testified, as some areas are swamps and many parts don’t have road systems to navigate the land on.
“It’s a big property,” he said, filled with dove fields, duck ponds and deer stands all over. The Murdaugh men frequently went hunting for deer, duck, quail, doves and hogs on the land and would often invite friends to join them.
The property had a huge population of hogs, Buster Murdaugh testified, which would often ruin the family’s dove fields, so the Murdaughs would regularly hunt the animals to “try to cut the numbers down a little bit.”
The estate went up for sale last year, several months after the killings, according to CNN affiliate WJCL.
The listing cited by the affiliate says the Moselle Farm, listed for $3.9 million, is under contract.
The land “boasts over 2.5 miles of river frontage, offering freshwater fishing, kayaking, and abundant deer, turkey, and waterfowl populations,” according to the listing. “To complement the natural amenities there are two man-made waterfowl impoundments capable of being planted with corn and flooded to attract wintering waterfowl. In addition, there is a 20-acre dove field complete with a dead wire and parameter fencing to minimize crop damage.”
At the end of a long road sits a 5,275-square-foot home, built in 2011, according to the listing – shortly before Buster Murdaugh estimates his family bought the estate.
There’s also a cottage on the property, which Buster Murdaugh referred to in his testimony as a “cabin,” saying he had stayed there for some time with two friends.
Nathan Tuten, a longtime friend of Paul Murdaugh, also testified in court he had stayed at the cabin with Paul for some time.
The property also includes a “rifle shooting range,” according to the listing.
“The location, ecosystem, and water features make this an ideal candidate for a conservation easement. The next owner may be the beneficiary of considerable tax advantages that may be available through the donation of an easement,” it notes.
(A conservation easement is, generally, a part of a property that is preserved and not developed. Making a donation allows the donor to take a tax deduction based on the appraised value of the property.)
There was another fatal incident tied to the family’s Moselle estate.
Gloria Satterfield, a longtime housekeeper for the Murdaughs, died in a hospital in February 2018, three weeks after what was described as a “trip and fall accident” at the Murdaugh home, an attorney representing her estate previously said.
“Certainly there were questions by my clients because after she unfortunately fell, she was airlifted to a hospital and she had a traumatic brain injury, she never was able to communicate with them for the next three weeks until she died,” attorney Eric Bland previously told CNN.
In a February 2, 2018, recording of a 911 call posted online by CNN affiliate WHNS, a caller who appears to be Maggie Murdaugh reports Satterfield fell and gives the Moselle home’s address.
“My housekeeper has fallen and her head is bleeding, I cannot get her up,” the caller says, adding Satterfield fell while going up the home’s outdoor, brick steps.
In 2021, more than three years after her death, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced it was opening a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s death after a request from the Hampton County coroner that highlighted inconsistencies in the ruling of her manner of death.
“The decedent’s death was not reported to the Coroner at the time, nor was an autopsy performed. On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural,’ which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident,” the coroner’s request to SLED said.
Notes from the pool report on Wednesday morning offered further details about the scene.
The area is vast and a visitor can go a mile or more without seeing a home on the drive, the pool report said. The location has been vacant since the June 2021 deaths and the grass has grown long.
“Some items seem to be left where they fell, including a deflated football behind the kennels and a tube of sanitizing wipes in the shed,” the pool report stated. “There is a yellow hose wrapped haphazardly in the spot described by Roger Dale Davis, the caretaker for the dogs. There are no animals in the kennels. There was no ATV visible and no significant remaining farming equipment that (the media reporter) could see.
“The feed room feels like a haunted place. It is roughly 10’ deep and 6’ wide, according to measurements taken by Special Agent Melinda Worley. Crime scene expert Kenneth Kinsey described Paul as standing about 5’ into the feed room when he was hit by the first shotgun blast to the chest. The doorway is off center and on the right; there is a shelf on the left at waist high. Standing in the center of the small room, which is roughly 6’ wide, (the reporter) could not see to the left outside of the doorway, where Mr. Kinsey said the shooter would have been.
“The concrete pad where Paul fell is within sight of the corner of the shed, where Maggie’s body was found. Maggie fell roughly 12 steps from where Paul would have fallen,” the pool report stated.
The report noted that there were no signs of violence and the interior of the feed room had been redone.
“The back window remains and the bullet holes are large and cracked around the edges,” the report stated. “There was significant testimony about the bullet hole in the quail house. The hole is still visible and is in cardboard that appeared to be stapled to the side of the structure.”