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Former SLED employee, Rita Shuler, joins Crime Capsule to discuss the latest in the Murdaugh Murder trial. Retired Special Agent, Lieutenant Rita Y. Shuler, of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is also the author of The Lowcountry Murder of Gwendolyn Elaine Fogle: A Cold Case Solved.
Lieutenant Rita Y. Shuler was supervisory special agent of the Forensic Photography Department of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for twenty-four and a half years. She interfaced with the Attorney General’s Office, solicitors and investigators, providing photographic evidence assistance in the prosecution of thousands of criminal cases. Her interest in photography started as a hobby at the age of nine with a Kodak “Brownie” camera. Before her career as a forensic photographer, she worked in the medical field as a radiologic technologist for twelve years. Her interest in forensic science evolved when she X-rayed homicide victims to assist with criminal investigations. Shuler received her specialized law enforcement photography training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia, South Carolina, and the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. She holds a special love for the South Carolina Lowcountry and enjoys walking, beaching, crabbing, fishing and shark tooth hunting. She resides in Johns Island, South Carolina.
Rita, one of my absolute favorite things to say on this show is welcome back to Crime Capsule. We are so delighted to have you join us again on such an incredible week.
Rita Y. Shuler (00:15):
Well, thank you very much, Ben, it is my pleasure to be here.
Benjamin Morris (00:19):
So, for our listeners who have not yet had the pleasure of your acquaintance, will you just tell us a little bit about your background and your career?
Rita Y. Shuler (00:32):
Well, I was Supervisory Special Agent for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which is known as SLED, and I was supervisor of the forensic photography department, and I was a part of the crime scene investigation team.
Rita Y. Shuler (00:51):
Now, crime scene investigators would go to the crime scene, I did not go to the crime scene unless specialized photography was needed because they were trained in it. And what they did, they went to the crime scene, gathered the evidence, processed the scene. They brought the crime scene back into me, to the studio, and if they needed follow-up specialized photography, I had my lab set up.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:21):
I called it my little FBI lab actually, because I went to the FBI, and I had a three weeks course there, and I came back and set up SLED's forensic photography department like that.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:37):
So, my main duty was taking care of the evidence and back then, we did 35-millimeter film, we didn't have the luxury of digital. So, I had to develop the film, I had to print the film, and even some of the local agencies would send their film into me from a crime scene if SLED did not work on it, and I actually helped them with that too.
Rita Y. Shuler (02:07):
So, my main purpose and duty was to photograph evidence and work with the crime scene investigators to try and assist them to come up with the best photographs of like fingerprints, shoe prints, or anything off the evidence they brought back to me in the lab.
Rita Y. Shuler (02:32):
And I had a lab where they could bring in their evidence then. I mean, they could bring in a door, it was that big a lab and we had to photograph any prints or whatever they wanted me to photograph: trace evidence, fraction marks, anything of that nature. So, I just took care of all the evidence that they would bring back from the crime scene.
Benjamin Morris (02:58):
And this experience is something which over the course of the last several months as the trial of the century (as some folks have called it) has gotten underway. I know you have a very real reaction to some of the things that you've been watching as you followed the trial.
Benjamin Morris (03:20):
Now, before we get into the trial itself, you served at SLED for 25 years before your retirement. You're born and raised in the low country of South Carolina, and you have worked with state, local, sometimes federal officials in the line of duty; you know better than most what it was like to labor under this shadow empire of influence and so-called justice of the Murdaugh clan.
Benjamin Morris (03:51):
Tell us, what was it like working in, around, alongside, maybe not the right word - but what was it like working in the shadow of the Murdaugh?
Rita Y. Shuler (04:07):
Well, from day one when I went to SLED and we did investigations, I guess the first scene after I went to SLED and they brought all the film back to me and all the processing evidence that they wanted me to process and photograph, they told me about the Murdaughs.
Rita Y. Shuler (04:34):
That they were the powerful family down there, they were in the 14th circuit, they were solicitors, and this started way back with, I don't know how many generations back, but that was always the ... I guess, known that the Murdaughs were powerful, they had a dynasty, they'd been there for years.
Rita Y. Shuler (04:56):
And so, when you get a case in here for the Murdaughs, we really need thoroughly to work on them. And that was just another thing for me, it didn't matter who they were because I took pride in everything that I did and every special procedure that I needed to do, whether it was them or not. Let me ask you this, I recall that you have described instances in which you would be invited to certain events and members of the extended Murdaugh clan would be there, mingling with law enforcement and so forth.
Benjamin Morris (06:08):
And you described this as sort of seeing that old boy network or feeling some unease about certain gatherings or official events where folks were getting kind of buddy-buddy. The South, as we know, is a very interconnected place, but you more or less kept your distance from that, didn't you? You chose not to participate in many of those kinds of gatherings.
Rita Y. Shuler (06:37):
The reason I chose not to participate was mainly because I was a part of that crime scene team and all the investigators at SLED, they knew the Murdaughs, and a lot of our guys hunted and they loved to go hunting. And they were invited down to the Murdaughs cookouts and hunting for days and weeks.
Rita Y. Shuler (07:03):
Well, being a part of the scene, they would tell me, "Rita, you can go too," which myself said, "I really am not a hunter, and I don't want to really be down there with all you guys." So, that's the reason I didn't go, it was not because of any prestige with the Murdaugh family and the good old boy system, I just didn't want to go down there with all the guys.
Rita Y. Shuler (07:29):
But I felt a little privileged for them asking me, and it wasn't back then as prominent as it is now (in my opinion). And because of this trial as well, I had no idea that all this was going on with Alex. And I really didn't know him because I mainly worked with his - it would've been his dad, that was during the era that I worked at SLED.
Benjamin Morris (08:08):
Let me ask you, June 2021 was when Alex killed Maggie and Paul. Where were you when you first heard about this and what was your reaction?
Rita Y. Shuler (08:23):
I was in my living room, and I got a notification from one of our local TV stations. And I do have that on my phone that I get notifications when anything happens. And I just looked at it and I went, "Oh my God." Well, my first thought was, and I had heard about the boat crash.
Rita Y. Shuler (08:48):
And my first thought was, "Oh gosh, is somebody retaliating against the Murdaughs because of the boat crash and how it was handled?" And then I heard the statement of, "We do not think there's any threat to the public," I think that was the way that they put it in other words.
Rita Y. Shuler (09:14):
That's when I started thinking, I said, "Didn't they know pretty much who might have done this?" Because we would say that a lot too in some of our investigation: "Don't think it's any threat to the public, because we pretty much knew who'd done this, we've just got to prove it," and that was my first thought.
Rita Y. Shuler (09:33):
And I went, "Oh God, did Alex do this himself?" And I at the time, did not know that he had done all this financial stuff. I learned that after SLED started investigating and the social media, I mean the news channels, they had it all on there.
Rita Y. Shuler (09:54):
That's when I learned, and I said, "Yeah, he could do it," that is totally my opinion. I said, "Yes, he could have done this." And the next thing was being the Murdaugh family, if they thought somebody else did this, they put up that reward and they had a date that it was going to ... expiration date on it, and I said I've never heard of that.
Benjamin Morris (10:31):
Rita Y. Shuler (10:32):
But being the Murdaugh family, I thought they would've been camped on SLED's doorstep, in the Attorney General's doorstep saying, "You find out who killed Maggie and Paul? Who killed my beloved wife, who killed my beloved son?" But they didn't do that.
Rita Y. Shuler (10:54):
That was not done, they didn't camp out. And I think later on, Alex put up a reward too, him and Buster, and I'm saying, there's money again, but I just can't see them with their name too, demanding to find out who did this. That was not in the media hardly at all.
Benjamin Morris (11:26):
It doesn't really pass the smell test, does it? You know, something's off.
Rita Y. Shuler (11:30):
That's the good way of putting it.
Benjamin Morris (11:32):
It's a funny thing, you've got this remarkable insight both as a trained professional and as a local, which is so interesting to hear. Next time, I get an APB on my phone or I'm watching TV and I hear someone say, law enforcement say, "Not a threat to the public," I think I'm going to know exactly what that means now, and I really appreciate that as a tip.
Rita Y. Shuler (11:58):
That was used a lot in some investigation. My guards would come back from the crime scene and they'd say, "Okay, we think it's this one person and they're not a threat to the public," and then of course, you have to deal with the evidence and see if it is that person, everything you can do.
Benjamin Morris (12:17):
Well, let me ask you, I know that it is for sort of integrity of the investigation and so forth, your colleagues at SLED would not have been able to talk about things as they progressed, but as a resident of the area, someone who knows Southeast South Carolina and the low country so well, what have the past two years leading up to this trial, what have they been like at home?
Benjamin Morris (12:47):
Folks must be talking about this in the diners, the barbershops, the mom and pops, it must be on everybody's mind, what has that been like?
Rita Y. Shuler (12:58):
Absolutely, and here, I'm 45 miles away from Walterboro, and after all this happened, you're correct, that was the conversation and everybody's kind of doing the Monday morning quarterback, and it was just conversation. If you went somewhere and didn't have anything to talk about, then you start talking about the Murdaughs being killed, Paul and Maggie being killed, if you didn't have anything to talk about.
Rita Y. Shuler (13:28):
I think it was a shock that this has happened to this prominent family in Walterboro, South Carolina. Now, it's taken over the nation and the whole nation knows where Walterboro, South Carolina is.
Rita Y. Shuler (13:49):
I think I live about 45 miles from Walterboro and just about seven, eight miles out of Charleston, South Carolina, which everybody knows where that is - and people have asked me, "How far do you live from Walterboro?" I'm thinking people are going to say now, "Okay, Johns Island is 45 miles from Walterboro, instead of being seven miles from Charleston."
Benjamin Morris (14:15):
You've put yourself on the map now.
Rita Y. Shuler (14:18):
And I love Walterboro, I really do. As you know, one of my career cases was in Walterboro that we solved a murder after 35 years, and I do love Walterboro. I've been over there so much, and I have friends there and I have professional friends there and investigative friends there, it's been dear to my heart.
Benjamin Morris (14:49):
Well, let's take a look at the trial. We are recording this on really the tail end of one of the most dramatic 24-hour periods in your area's history, the verdict was announced last night and the sentence was announced this morning just a few hours ago.
Benjamin Morris (15:10):
So, we are really kind of right on the edge of this occasion. You have seen a lot of investigations over the years, you have participated in them, contributed to them. When you look at Alex's trial, what are some of the key differences that you see compared to how they were done in years past and how this particular investigation was conducted?
Rita Y. Shuler (15:45):
I've been gone for 21 years, and technology has just taken over. And back in my day, it was more hands-on. So, we would go to the scene, we'd kind of bring the evidence back in the SLED. I saw evidence that they gathered that went back to SLED, but then there was some evidence that could have been gathered that they probably didn't, but at the time that they were doing the crime scene investigation that first night, they may not have looked at Alex as a suspect.
Rita Y. Shuler (16:36):
And so, the thing about the clothes - they said his clothes were clean and they smelled good, and from what I understand, there was no blood spatter on the clothes he was wearing, but then those question about the other clothes. They did take the shirt and the shorts in, but they never found the other clothes, and I've got to admit Alex Murdaugh, he knew what they would be looking for and apparently, he knew how to get rid of it.
Rita Y. Shuler (17:14):
And one of the experts that testified, Dr. Kenny Kinsey, he actually spent time in my photography lab back in the years when I was there like an intern when he was starting out. And I noticed in his testimony, he went back to old school sometime, and as he said, "There's a shoe print on the floor, bloody shoe print that wasn't photographed," and it should have been. To me, it should have been.
Rita Y. Shuler (18:07):
Even if it belonged to Paul or whoever it belonged to or belonged to nobody, you can eliminate it. Or it might have belonged to somebody, but you have to find the shoes too. But that wasn't done, and I wasn't at the scene, so I really can't say what was done.
Rita Y. Shuler (18:32):
But our guys like I said, if they saw a shoe printing sand, they would do a plastic cast of it, bring it back to headquarters, and I would photograph it, and I understand there was a lot of shoe prints and all around this scene. And again, I wasn't there, so I couldn't tell.
Rita Y. Shuler (18:55):
But I don't think our guys would have let everyone that went into that scene - that was just something to me but again, everything's changed since I was there, but they didn't do that back in my day.
Benjamin Morris (19:13):
It's interesting, isn't it, because now you have the kind of evidence that can be collected on the actual premises evidence from the scene, and then you also have the technological evidence sort of the GPS tracking, which proved, and the sort of cell phone communications which really have come into the fore in the last 20 years.
Benjamin Morris (19:34):
That kind of evidence proved pivotal here, didn't it? In the trial, the Snapchat video, the recordings, monitoring where people were at the time. Do you think Alex just was ignorant of that, overlooked that, in the sort of panic and the haste? I mean, that's the one thing he couldn't destroy, right?
Rita Y. Shuler (19:57):
Right. I think Alex knew a lot about it because he tried to open Paul's phone and he tried to open Maggie's phone as the testimony went. And I do believe that he knew a lot about this, but he didn't know the extensive part or where they could almost trace every footstep of him.
Rita Y. Shuler (20:29):
And I'm sure he's testified in court about this too, even back when he was doing his court proceedings on one of his cases, I'm sure he brought in cell phone data, and I don't know about the OnStar back then, but I would think OnStar would be there.
Benjamin Morris (20:51):
Rita Y. Shuler (20:52):
And he had to use the telephone data and all too to make his case. So, he knew about all that. He also knew how to get rid of evidence, I think. He also knew how to get rid of his clothes, and I still can't get my head around that, but he knew how to do that.
Benjamin Morris (21:14):
Rita Y. Shuler (21:15):
Because the lack of evidence sometimes tells you something.
Benjamin Morris (21:18):
Rita Y. Shuler (21:20):
And it's the lack of his clothes, the lack of blood on his clothes, that tells its own story as well. The lack of them not finding the guns.
Benjamin Morris (21:32):
Right. The murder weapons themselves, they found ammunition which matched the-
Rita Y. Shuler (21:35):
That is true.
Benjamin Morris (21:36):
The sort of the weapons that were fired, but they didn't actually find the weapons themselves.
Rita Y. Shuler (21:43):
Yep. And that was a big point too, because the shell casings they found outside the door and the shell casings they found at the crime scene, they were a match or either shot from a gun, like they said with the same specs to them.
Benjamin Morris (22:04):
I know, of course you were not at that scene, but in a scene like it take us through the step of say, for the shell casings in particular, are they photographed first where they are found to preserve sort of placement and then brought back to SLED?
Benjamin Morris (22:22):
Or are they just brought back to SLED first and then kind of reconstructed thereafter?
Rita Y. Shuler (22:28):
They should have been photographed when they saw the shell casings, wherever they were. And we did a 90-degree angle, so it would be perpendicular, with a scale in it.
Rita Y. Shuler (22:47):
Our guys put a scale in everything, and that is the way, when it comes back to me, that if they need to do an exact size on it, the scale is in the suspected cartridges.
Rita Y. Shuler (23:02):
And then if they have the real cartridges, then I can do a one to one of each one, and you see how it matches up. But it has to be the exact size in order to make sure it's in the exact inch or in the exact corner or whatever. It has to be that exact size.
Rita Y. Shuler (23:27):
So, that's the reason they should put rulers in there. In this case, I don't know, I don't remember, but they should take photographs at the scene.
Rita Y. Shuler (23:43):
And then possibly when they get back to do the analysis, of course, they'll take photographs then too as well.
Rita Y. Shuler (23:50):
But you should photograph the scene exactly how it is when you get there and all the evidence, because that's the beauty of photography. It shows exactly how the assailant left it and film as we used, and now digital can be filed and it can be worked on later on. You can use those crime scene photographs to actually kind of reconstruct a crime scene.
Rita Y. Shuler (24:31):
But everything should be photographed. Our guys started at the sign poles, there outside, and they just walked on in and took photographs of everything.
Benjamin Morris (24:43):
I'm curious because you have described how canny, how savvy Alex is, how he's sort of always thinking about the possibilities and trying to stay a step ahead of law enforcement and that kind of stuff.
Benjamin Morris (25:00):
What is your approach when you encounter a crime scene that you suspect may have been manipulated by the very perpetrator? So, if Alex is trying to kind of place something in a way that leads to a different conclusion than what actually happened.
Benjamin Morris (25:16):
How are you able to kind of remove that filter, so to speak, or kind of take that layer of, I don't even know what the word is, but how do you remove his influence which was added after the actual murder?
Rita Y. Shuler (25:41):
Well again, I didn't go to the crime scenes, unless they needed specialized photography. Our investigators went there and then we got together when they brought them back and I was a part of it when they brought it back, but I didn't do the original investigation. We had that investigative team to do that.
Rita Y. Shuler (26:19):
Well, you kind of look at things and if anything is out of place, or where it's not supposed to be, such as, they kind of elaborated on that hose being out of place and that's one thing.
Rita Y. Shuler (26:36):
And when you talk to the witnesses like they did, they said, "No, that hose was on, wrapped up real nice on it." And then when I think in the picture, maybe the kennel picture, anyway, it was out of place.
Rita Y. Shuler (26:55):
So, you look for anything that's out of place. And they asked Alex too, is there anything out of place? And he said, "No, not particularly." And they would have to talk to other witnesses though, if they saw something that they saw it was maybe out of place.
Rita Y. Shuler (27:19):
They would talk to other witnesses like they did the dog handler and ask him about, okay, how about this hose? Where is it supposed to be?
Rita Y. Shuler (27:30):
Again, you can take those photographs even after you're away from the crime scene, and you can reconstruct the crime scene from it just like Dr. Kenny Kinsey did.
Rita Y. Shuler (27:43):
And I think, the defense had one too they kind of reconstructed. Of course, they were not parallel with each other, but just anything that's out of place and change of habits during the day, just like they talk to him about change of habits. That's something that you really need to look at.
Benjamin Morris (28:12):
Yeah. This case and all trials of this nature, they live and die by the evidence that's presented. And you've mentioned sort of the blood spatter on the T-shirt and maybe in one or two other spots, you've mentioned the sort of technology in the cell phones.
Benjamin Morris (28:29):
Were there any other evidentiary issues that really stood out for you as you were watching this trial? Either that came out of the testimony or just things that they were presenting, like angles of gunshots or kind of the what was searched, what was not searched? As you're following this whole saga along, were there any real red flags that jumped out for you?
Rita Y. Shuler (28:59):
My first red flag, and I had heard this in a podcast before, and I'd say, okay, that might be right, but I'm going to watch the trial and see the positive evidence or the circumstantial evidence or whatever.
Rita Y. Shuler (29:15):
And yes, I heard there was a video that Paul had. I had no idea what it was. And I don't know if anybody had any idea what it was until the trial. But the first red flag for me, as I told you, there's no threat to the community.
Rita Y. Shuler (29:34):
The second red flag was when I watched that video and I heard Alex's voice in there, and I said, "Oh hell," I said, "That is Alex's voice." He has a distinct voice that is his voice.
Rita Y. Shuler (29:48):
He was at the scene, and I had already seen some of the testimony on the timeline and when I heard that voice and I went, "Oh my goodness." I said, "He was there like a minute or so, and he lied about it."
Rita Y. Shuler (30:07):
And that's one thing our investigators don't like, is somebody lying to them, somebody lying to law enforcement. It's like, if you find a fingerprint or a shoe print or a footprint at a crime scene and you get a suspect, and you question them and you're really looking at this, he's kind of a firm suspect here.
Rita Y. Shuler (30:42):
And when they talked to him, one of the first things they would ask was, “Were you ever in this house? Were you ever at this scene where it happened?”
Rita Y. Shuler (30:58):
And if they say no, and you've already matched their shoes up to the shoe print, matched their footprint, up to the footprint, fingerprint up to the fingerprint, and now a DNA, well how do you tell us you weren't there when we have your fingerprints? How did you-
Rita Y. Shuler (31:24):
How did they get there? We even had suspects tell us, "Well, that is my shoe print, but somebody must have stole that shoe out of the closet and wore it that night."
Rita Y. Shuler (31:37):
Like I said, they don't like lies. And that would be the first lie, in my 37-year-old case that was just solved. They asked him, the person, and have you ever been in Elaine's house? And he said, no.
Rita Y. Shuler (32:01):
And of course, Chief Johnson asked him, "Well, how did you explain that your fingerprints and your palm prints were in that house?" Well, they knew he lied. And they pretty much had him in, they knew he lied.
Benjamin Morris (32:18):
Bagged and tagged. Bagged and tagged.
Rita Y. Shuler (32:20):
But it's that simple with the finger, fingerprints are wonderful. They'll never go away because nobody has the same fingerprints, but identical twins do have the same DNA. So, if you find DNA at a crime scene and you think one of these twins did it, you pray for a fingerprint.
Rita Y. Shuler (32:42):
So, that's the way you difference that because no two fingerprints alike. But yeah, and catching him in a lie, and when I saw that video, I went, "Oh my God." So that was number one.
Rita Y. Shuler (33:01):
And then him having no blood on his clothes, they couldn't find any. I think they found a little spot of blood and DNA maybe on the steering wheel but that pretty much tells you if he did this, he changed clothes.
Rita Y. Shuler (33:17):
But I'll tell you, he covered it up. I've got to admit that, boy, he cleaned up or whatever he did because they didn't find any blood and that had to be a bloody scene.
Benjamin Morris (33:28):
Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
Rita Y. Shuler (33:30):
I myself wonder if he didn't change clothes down there and drive home in that golf cart, they could — that was one of my thoughts. That was one of my thoughts too. But he did a good job of getting rid of the blood and the bloody clothes. But of course, they had their ideas of how he did that.
Benjamin Morris (33:58):
Yeah. It makes you wonder if one day down the road, some of that evidence will in fact turn up on the property, on the land.
Rita Y. Shuler (34:05):
You're thinking just like me.
Rita Y. Shuler (34:07):
There are hunters in that area every day. If he threw a gun out in the woods or he threw clothes out in the woods, or even the waterways down there, sometimes they dry up. I said, one day somebody might say, "God, look at this gun here."
Benjamin Morris (34:26):
Yeah. What's that shotgun doing in the bottom of the bayou? Let me go check that out, up it comes and then there we are.
Rita Y. Shuler (34:32):
And you don't know where he put his clothes. He could have thrown them in somebody's dipsy dumpster on his way out or whatever. And the next day they were gone. But he did a good job with that, now.
Benjamin Morris (34:48):
Well, before we switch gears, I got two questions for you. Number one, what did you make of the two-shooter theory? There's somebody else up, one on one hill and the other down downhill and that kind of … when that first was floated, what was your take?
Rita Y. Shuler (35:05):
I didn't think it at all. I knew from the past, as I told you, these people down there are hunters. This family was a big — they were living in a hunting lodge, that's what they called it. And they were big hunters. They had guns all over the place.
Rita Y. Shuler (35:26):
And once I saw this video and put him down there and the timeline came in, I said, man, he could have done this. He was an expert with guns, and he may have even carried the guns down on the golf cart.
Rita Y. Shuler (35:43):
I don't know if they ever decided how he got them there, but he could've gone down on the golf cart with Maggie and Paul and, “Let's put the guns in here, Paul, might be able to kill us a pig.”
Benjamin Morris (35:55):
Get us a hog. Yeah, exactly.
Rita Y. Shuler (35:56):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And if he had those guns in that golf cart when he was there and they said Paul was shot first, he could have shot Paul and Maggie, like they said to Kim running to her son, her baby. And then he just picked up the other one and turned around and shot her.
Rita Y. Shuler (36:27):
Now, here's one thing I found interesting too with Dr. Kenny Kinsey. He found a pattern on the back of Maggie's style, and he didn't go to the crime scene. He was an expert brought in, and that's the one I told you I've known him for years.
Benjamin Morris (36:46):
Rita Y. Shuler (36:48):
And he's actually from my home county, Orangeburg County here in South Carolina. But when I was listening to him and I heard that, he said there was a pattern on the back of Maggie's thigh and he told how he took it, it appeared to be mud and it had a design like the tire on the Polaris, the ATV.
Rita Y. Shuler (37:18):
And boy, I just zoomed into that because that's what we did at SLED so much. And even when he was up there too, his two weeks, we were doing some of that.
Rita Y. Shuler (37:32):
But he said, "This is a good pattern trait here," is what we called it. And he took photographs of the ATV, tires on the ATV and the photograph of the pattern on her leg.
Rita Y. Shuler (37:46):
And of course, again, you have your scales in there so you can do it one to one and make the pattern, one to one and make the tire one to one. You enlarge it to that size.
Rita Y. Shuler (37:59):
And he was able to overlay and with certainty, he said that that pattern on the back of Maggie's leg was the impression of ... it had designs of the tire of the tire of the ATV.
Benjamin Morris (38:17):
It was a match. He got a match. Yeah.
Rita Y. Shuler (38:19):
Correct. And there again, he explained how you had to reverse one. He talked in good plain language and common sense, but then again, he was back from my era.
Benjamin Morris (38:32):
Rita Y. Shuler (38:33):
And I could follow this a lot more, but that would tell you too, that at some point her leg came in contact with that tire on the ATV.
Rita Y. Shuler (38:46):
Now whether it was when she was shot and she fell back or she was walking back to get away, but at some point, her thigh got in contact with that ATV and he did that from the photographs, I think it was the autopsy photographs.
Rita Y. Shuler (39:05):
And I kind of want to say seems like to me, he said there wasn't a scale. So, he got as close as he could with his photograph of the tire and that scale to the pattern trait on the back of Maggie’s leg.
Benjamin Morris (39:28):
It's nice to see a little old fashioned gum shoeing coming to fruition, isn't it?
Rita Y. Shuler (39:32):
Tell me about it. And he even went as far as to say, back in the old days, we used to just reverse the negative and just turn the negative upside down on one or the other.
Rita Y. Shuler (39:46):
And of course, now you can do this digital. It's pretty simple. I've done some of that digital too, so-
Benjamin Morris (39:53):
Very satisfying, very, very satisfying.
Rita Y. Shuler (39:56):
But that to me was a good piece of evidence too, because it placed her at the crime scene. It placed her there and either she backed up on the door, however it got there. Somehow that tire came in contact with her thigh.
Benjamin Morris (40:14):
That kind of hard evidence stands against the claim by the defense that all the state had here was circumstantial, just circumstantial was the sort of the-
Rita Y. Shuler (40:28):
And you've got to look at that as circumstantial too, I guess. Although it was direct, you might have to look at that as a circumstantial here too. Because they could say all day long it doesn't match up, but he matched it up.
Benjamin Morris (40:43):
Yeah. Well, that's what I want to ask you is that you have this kind of — I think that the defense was correct in the sense that yes, there was mostly circumstantial evidence. Okay-
Rita Y. Shuler (40:54):
Sure. I'll agree. But cases have been made on circumstantial evidence. A lot of cases have been made, but you've got to work with it. You've got to work with it, and they worked with it.
Benjamin Morris (41:09):
Yeah. And that's the question, is sort of, in some cases circumstantial is not enough to convict, but in this case it was. Why do you think that it was here for Alex Murdaugh?
Rita Y. Shuler (41:21):
Oh, my goodness. And just these digital records too of the phone and the OnStar, they traced him around everywhere. They had as many steps as he took.
Rita Y. Shuler (41:36):
And I think it was one question there, he had a lot of steps after he got back to the scene when he was calling 911 or something, he was probably just twirling around in circles, talking to him or whatever.
Rita Y. Shuler (41:47):
But that technology, it can trace your steps, it can trace your car, it can trace your mileage, it can trace your speed. And it may be a little off, but it is not that much off.
Rita Y. Shuler (42:10):
And in that video, they might say that's circumstantial, but that video had Alex on there like two minutes, before the time of the day.
Benjamin Morris (42:24):
It's too close. Yeah, it's too close. It is too close.
Rita Y. Shuler (42:27):
But they have all the technology there. And then you can again, go back to the photographs and you can actually reconstruct that photograph and show the angles of the bullets.
Rita Y. Shuler (42:42):
And it's just wonderful technology and old school, but it still takes a human to make it work.
Benjamin Morris (42:52):
Rita Y. Shuler (42:52):
There has to be a human there to do all this to make it work.
Benjamin Morris (42:57):
And draw those-
Rita Y. Shuler (42:58):
And they had them, they had the good experts.
Benjamin Morris (43:01):
Well Rita, I can't thank you enough for your perspective on this. It truly is fascinating, and I know that I have learned a lot hearing your expertise come to light, to shed light on this particular trial.
Benjamin Morris (43:14):
I want to bring in a voice who has been waiting in the wings here. Our esteemed producer, Bill Huffman, who has been following this trial for quite some time. It is a major case.
Rita Y. Shuler (43:30):
And Bill, of course, is the host of his own show called, Who Killed and has a number of reactions to Alex Murdaugh's convictions.
Rita Y. Shuler (43:40):
Bill, first question I have for you is did you have any doubt about this verdict or were you too thinking maybe hung jury, retrial, kind of extended deliberation? What was your take on the verdict?
Bill Huffman (43:54):
Well, first thanks for having me on the show and being in the background all the time and not being able to voice my two cents, it does great on you a little bit, but thank you very much for letting me voice a couple comments here.
Bill Huffman (44:10):
I actually thought this was a slam dunk in my opinion. When it comes to a circumstantial case, I've looked at other cases that people have been convicted on lot less stuff than what they had on him.
Bill Huffman (44:26):
And I think Rita basically laid out the digital footprint. With what they have nowadays, the ability to track your every move, basically, it's not surprising to me at all.
Bill Huffman (44:43):
Was I surprised that the verdict came back so quickly? Yes. But I think, if you looked at the trial, the prosecution really did, and I have a couple questions about how they did this.
Bill Huffman (45:00):
The way that they portrayed the case and portrayed Alex being in this situation where he's addicted to so many drugs. Which Rita, did you find it odd that like … I don't know, he just doesn't seem like a drug addict in the sense that he would be taking 60 pills a day, in my opinion.
Bill Huffman (45:22):
But my image is of somebody like that. I guess he doesn't fall into that. Do you think they were exaggerating that to try to get some sympathy or empathy towards AleX?
Rita Y. Shuler (45:36):
My personal opinion, yes, but I've never done drugs. I really don't know anybody that's ever taken that much drugs. And I think there was one comment that he said he took like a thousand a day. I think you would be dead if you took a thousand a day.
Benjamin Morris (45:57):
Now, I don't know. This is just my opinion. I know some people who say they know drug addicts that they don't know what they're doing or everything. And I can understand that too, but he just did not fit that to me.
Rita Y. Shuler (46:14):
I didn't buy that. Sure. Maybe he was on drugs, and he had some opioids in his system after the so-called suicide attempt. And they did find some opioid drugs there.
Rita Y. Shuler (46:32):
But he picked up on that real good. And that's the reason, he lied about the not being at the kennel because he got paranoid. No, I don't buy it.
Bill Huffman (46:46):
I don't either and I don't see how you can do and function the way that he was and conniving the way that he was, regardless of the murders, the financial crimes, how he was able to convince-
Rita Y. Shuler (47:02):
Bill Huffman (47:04):
Do that while he's all doped up. We're not talking cocaine or amphetamines. We're talking about opioids. This is stuff that's puts you out.
Rita Y. Shuler (47:19):
I didn't buy-
Bill Huffman (47:21):
Yeah. I don't-
Rita Y. Shuler (47:22):
And I think there was a lot of people that didn't buy it.
Bill Huffman (47:24):
And I think the jury didn't buy it either because they could see him.
Rita Y. Shuler (47:27):
Bill Huffman (47:28):
Generally, when somebody has an addiction like that, they suffer major, major withdrawals and-
Rita Y. Shuler (47:34):
Absolutely. And you just hit it right there. He said he was in detox for seven days and we don't know where he was. They say he was there, but I don't know if they really know where he was. But for seven days you would still have withdrawals after that, I would think.
Bill Huffman (47:55):
And you'd think they were using this to justify his stealing of client's money.
Rita Y. Shuler (48:05):
Bill Huffman (48:05):
And that's where my next question goes is where does the financial aspect of this case go now? Is it still pursued? Because they're still victims out there.
Rita Y. Shuler (48:27):
He's been indicted them. So, I think they may go to trial now. It could be possible. They said, "We don't need to go to trial on this." But he's got one or two other cases that SLED is looking into now and the Gloria Satterfield and definitely Stephen Smith. You hadn't heard much about that since they said they reopened it. But those aren't resolved yet.
Bill Huffman (48:51):
Now is Stephen the one that's connected to the Buster? Yes.
Rita Y. Shuler (48:59):
Bill Huffman (48:59):
Rita Y. Shuler (49:01):
Bill Huffman (49:01):
It's just creepy.
Rita Y. Shuler (49:03):
He went to school. He was in the same class as Buster. I heard. And then of course, they kind of related that they might've had a good relationship.
Bill Huffman (49:14):
Very interesting how they all seemed to cross paths with death in some way or another. And in your history of working with SLED, did you ever see anything that you thought was not on the up and up in the decades that you worked there? Because of their pull.
Benjamin Morris (49:42):
You mean the Murdaughs in particular?
Bill Huffman (49:44):
Yeah. The Murdaughs, the prosecution, being able to prosecute and just kind of running rough shot over the local authorities. You're basically the boss.
Rita Y. Shuler (50:04):
I never saw anything. But we've heard it, and you ask a local, I'm sure some of the locals say yes too. And don't second guess the locals because they're the ones that live there.
Bill Huffman (50:15):
This is true.
Rita Y. Shuler (50:16):
But as far as me, no investigations that I knew of or even our guys did, I don't remember doing that. But yes, there is speculation out there that that could be too.
Bill Huffman (50:28):
Because I just wonder how far the apple fell from the tree. It's just seems like with their great-grandfather being the prosecutor, the family tree, we see it, it's all prosecutors.
Bill Huffman (50:40):
And then, Alex is a little different path. And he was still successful, but it's just very dynasty soap opera, low country. I think there's a reason it captured the national attention. That just really shows what power and greed and-
Rita Y. Shuler (51:10):
They could get away with it.
Bill Huffman (51:12):
And what is your thought?
Rita Y. Shuler (51:13):
And they got away. Alex got away with it. He did.
Bill Huffman (51:17):
For so long.
Bill Huffman (51:34):
Because what happens with the Mallory Beach and the Paul Boat accident stuff. And I know that you can't do anything with the prosecution or anything like that.
Bill Huffman (51:46):
But these people lost a child and it's just seems so unfair that he won't face any … I know he faced the ultimate punishment, I guess, because he was taken out by his father, but he still committed a crime, and they all seem to be just a bunch of troublemakers.
Bill Huffman (52:06):
And I don't understand how this side of the family became such, I guess, an enigma compared to the rest of the people.
Rita Y. Shuler (52:21):
Well, as far as that boat case, I think that pretty much started all this and people looking at it. And I remember when it happened and I myself said, "They're not going to do anything with this because it's a Murdaugh."
Rita Y. Shuler (52:45):
And that was just my impression from hearing the dynasty and knowing about the dynasty, and knowing about how powerful they were when I worked with SLED, even back, what, 20 years ago now, and 25 years ago.
Rita Y. Shuler (53:04):
And it didn't, it didn't go anywhere. And you think about, I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in conveniences maybe is the word for it. And he, Alex, was looking at the lawsuit with Paul and the boat case, three days later was when it was going to court, and he killed them three days before he went to court. Is that convenience?
Bill Huffman (53:48):
I think so.
Rita Y. Shuler (53:51):
Bless Pete that his daddy died three days after all this happened.
Benjamin Morris (54:03):
It's a fascinating sequence of events because one frame has everything lined up perfectly. And then the other frame of course says no. It was all just coincidental.
Benjamin Morris (54:13):
I think one thing that this trial has shown is that anyone with a bone of common sense in their body just doesn't accept that coincidental narrative either. I think Rita, you're absolutely right about that.
Rita Y. Shuler (54:26):
Thank you for that.
Benjamin Morris (54:26):
Well, I think you're right. I think you're absolutely spot on. And it is interesting, I did read one report, which speaks to Bill's question about his legal vulnerability for these other cases.
Benjamin Morris (54:37):
And it does suggest, the Guardian was reporting that he still could be charged for those murders.
Rita Y. Shuler (54:42):
Yes, yes, yes. I saw.
Benjamin Morris (54:44):
But the state has not yet gotten enough evidence to prove his involvement in them and sort of, even if they did, since he's already facing life in prison it would just be kind of up to the DA's discretion as to whether or not they would add these charges onto his current situation. They don't necessarily have to; he's not coming out.
Rita Y. Shuler (55:06):
This is true. Hopefully they will investigate some, for the family's sake. And I don't believe in closure either, but to bring some peace to the families.
Rita Y. Shuler (55:19):
And I do hope they do that because they have opened back up all of these supposedly and that's been out, and they've opened these up. And hopefully they'll go back and investigate that too.
Rita Y. Shuler (55:35):
Who knows what you might find? You might find something out about this case too, you didn't know, which we don't need that now, but-
Rita Y. Shuler (55:45):
Be like finding that gun in the woods?
Benjamin Morris (55:47):
Yeah. Can I play devil's advocate real quick and ask Bill the same question that I asked you, Rita?
Rita Y. Shuler (55:53):
Benjamin Morris (55:53):
There is always a chance that somebody with an exterior motive, that the third person, the third party, that there was an individual out there who had a motive to come onto their land and conduct these murders and try to gain some financial leverage. All the different kind of rationales.
Rita Y. Shuler (55:13):
Benjamin Morris (55:14):
And so, Bill, did you ever see anything in the defense's case that you found even remotely plausible or that you felt like the prosecution did not adequately respond to? Trying to see both sides here. Right.
Bill Huffman (56:35):
Personally, I feel like they did a decent job setting up the drug dealer drug perspective. And I think that's kind of why they ran with the whole addiction and the opioids and it's the hot topic in the country.
Bill Huffman (56:55):
We have an epidemic going on and whoa, let's throw Alex in there and he'll be fine. We'll say he's got this problem and then he's spending this much money on drugs, and then he owes this much money to a drug dealer.
Bill Huffman (57:15):
And hey, drug dealers kill for less than — let's say they have $10,000, they'll-
Rita Y. Shuler (57:24):
You got to pay them.
Bill Huffman (57:24):
They'll kill them. You got to pay them. And so, that was a plausible idea. But again, it was kind of a concocted story to fit the circumstances.
Bill Huffman (57:38):
So, it's more like you're saying, okay, yeah, yeah, yeah. Let's run with that aspect of it with the drug addiction, because that brings in shady characters opposed to him committing these financial crimes.
Bill Huffman (57:54):
Whereas that's just him just being shady, whereas this brings in other people that could potentially cause harm. And so, was it a last-ditch effort to really kind of distract the jury? Yeah, of course it was.
Bill Huffman (58:12):
This guy was dead to rights, in my opinion. Everybody suspected him. Rita, we had you on pretty much right after he attempted or whatever was shot. And you were like, "He's totally did it."
Bill Huffman (58:51):
And you were like, "Oh yeah, he's totally involved." And I wouldn't be surprised if he killed Paul and Maggie. So, you nailed this.
Benjamin Morris (59:00):
You called it, you called it.
Bill Huffman (59:02):
You called it because it was … I think you were on in July of last year or of 2021 or August and you had your two cents and you were right. You were right on the money.
Rita Y. Shuler (59:20):
I've got to tell you this, one of my high school buds he lives in Hilton Head, and he actually worked with Russell Laffitte, one of the other attorneys that I think he just got sentenced, I don't know if he's sentenced yet.
Rita Y. Shuler (59:35):
But anyhow, he got convicted and Fred called me up and he said, "Well, Rita," he said, "Are you going to write a book on the Murdaughs?" And I went, "Yeah, I can saw on Alex Murdaugh." He said, "Are you going to write a book on Alex Murdaugh?" And I said, "Yeah, it'd be three words."
Rita Y. Shuler (59:57):
And Fred still reminds me of that when he calls me.
Bill Huffman (01:00:01):
So, I have one last question for you. And that is, it was interesting to see the press conference last night after the verdict.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:00:12):
Bill Huffman (01:00:12):
And to see the state attorney general and everybody, it was like a celebration of the lives of Paul and Maggie, but it was also like a celebration of, we took down the King-
Rita Y. Shuler (01:00:32):
Bill Huffman (01:00:33):
We took down the king, they're no more in power, we cut the head off the snake or the dragon or whatever you want to reference. And it just seemed like a celebration opposed to sometimes you don't really see that very often.
Bill Huffman (01:00:49):
And the state attorney general, I guess he questioned one of the final witnesses and is that a pretty common thing to do? Or is that like everybody wanted to have a hand in this?
Rita Y. Shuler (01:01:06):
It is not a common thing to do, I don't think, they're happy. But there's never been a case in South Carolina like this case, if you would take it back, it would have to be Peewee Gaskins.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:01:20):
And, you know Peewee Gaskins, he went through South Carolina and he killed, and for years and years and years. But there's never been a case in South Carolina like this.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:01:31):
And that's another thing. The SLED investigators have never had to investigate a case like this. This has just been a snowball effect, that one thing after the other. And they had to find out what was right and what was wrong.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:01:49):
And I think they were just celebrating that we finally got justice in South Carolina one time on a case this big. And it was this powerful family because they did a lot of good work, SLED and the state and attorney general.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:02:14):
But they've just never had a case in South Carolina like this. Not in my lifetime, except for maybe Peewee Gaskins. And his wasn't even this extensive, I don't think. Because he'd tell them where a body was. They knew he was guilty.
Bill Huffman (01:02:29):
It's just amazing how quickly they turned it around and already have a conviction and sentence.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:02:38):
Walterboro, the people down there, they know about guns, a lot of them hunt. They know about terrain vehicles; they know about dog kennels. They've all got them.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:02:55):
And I do believe they put together — this didn't have to be two shooters, and we know how Alex and those loved hunting and they knew guns upside down and backwards.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:03:12):
And I just really believed these jurors, and they were the local people who had lived in this dynasty knowing that the Murdaughs were called the dynasty for years.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:03:28):
And of course, they'd heard some the media before, and I think they just knew how it worked down there. They were down to earth people.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:03:42):
What was the first thing that put Alex at the kennel? It was a simple video of a dog's tail, done by Paul for a friend of his, that video put Alex at the kennels. And that dog's tail, if it wouldn't have been for that dog's tail, we wouldn't have that video. Something that simple.
Benjamin Morris (01:04:19):
Rita, you nail it right here because southern folks, we know when someone is trying to pull the wool over our eyes. We can just tell, there's a little hair on the back of our neck that stands up.
Benjamin Morris (01:04:34):
You don't need all the fancy degrees in the world from all the fanciest institutions. You can have someone who knows dogs, knows guns, and knows trucks and they can be absolutely every bit as much as an expert, as any witness that anybody else will call.
Benjamin Morris (01:04:50):
And I too get a little annoyed, when there's a sort of outside perception of, oh, those dumb jurors, they wouldn't know how to add two and two together. And it's like, well, hold on. We actually have a little bit more credibility than that.
Benjamin Morris (01:05:10):
It was interesting. There were two jurors that were holding out at the very end. The Guardian reported-
Rita Y. Shuler (01:05:16):
Yes. I've heard that.
Benjamin Morris (01:05:16):
That they were two who were kind of unsure in the last moments. But it was the cell phone evidence that ultimately persuaded them, and they've gone on the record to say so, and it's just-
Rita Y. Shuler (01:05:29):
And they had so much, all of this testimony too, that's back and forth and back and forth of the same thing over and over. It was confusing.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:05:37):
I was really glad to see the prosecution have a PowerPoint presentation there and kind of put it together, put that timeline together and didn't have all the rest of that stuff that they had to look through two and three pages of cell phone records.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:05:54):
He had the important parts of the timeline there with that. And graphics are wonderful. That's why I love photography. It tells a story and then he simplified it down in that PowerPoint presentation, which they did call back from Monitor. And I'm wondering if that's what they were looking at or either the video again too.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:06:18):
And that just kind of simplified it right there after all the testimony they'd had on it for hours and hours and hours. But I thought that was a good point, you have to get that timeline so that the jurors can understand this.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:06:33):
And a lot of them was probably like me. They didn't know that all the extensive cell phone records you could get to follow people around and OnStar, but they know it now.
Benjamin Morris (01:08:44):
Rita Y. Shuler (01:08:46):
This is something that I've always picked up, the psychological profile that SLED taught me this, I think, and he was amazing. He could talk a world out of its hole, as far as I'm concerned. And he was amazing.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:09:02):
But he said, you listen at the suspected suspect talk, and he's going to tell him that story sometime, his truths. And Alex, as my mama would say he didn't have the truth in him.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:09:24):
But Alex said a few things over the time, and one of them was that when he testified, he said, "Yes, I lied about the dog kennel, being at the dog kennel." He said, "But I would never kill my wife Maggie or my son Paul." He would never do that. When he was talking to the first officers on the scene, how many times did he say, "Are they dead? Are they dead? Are they dead?"
Rita Y. Shuler (01:10:50):
To me that showed he wanted to make sure they were dead, so they couldn't talk. Possibly, my thoughts. And he kept telling officers he would cooperating anyway, but he later kept asking, "Where is it in the investigation? Are y'all looking for something? And that's kind of common for our family.”
Rita Y. Shuler (01:11:10):
But then again, they never demanded SLED to find out who killed them. They never demanded them to, okay you've got to find out who did this horrible, horrible thing.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:11:25):
And let's see. When his sister-in-law was …Maggie's sister testifies on the stand that Alex said, "Whoever did this had planned it for a long time."
Rita Y. Shuler (01:12:07):
And then Alex's word on the stand, he suggests, "I lied about being at the kennels, “I was there but did not kill Maggie and Paul.” The boat wreck was the reason Paw Paw and Maggie were killed. I can tell you for a fact that the personal people who did what I saw on June the 7th, they hated Paul Murdaugh, and they had an anger in their hearts. And that is the only reason they could be mad with Paul and hate him like that."
Rita Y. Shuler (01:12:41):
And then when he tests his sentencing yesterday, he says, "I lied, and I continue to lie." And then he followed that with, "I would never hurt my wife Maggie or my son Paw Paw." His court reply was another lie.
Benjamin Morris (01:13:05):
And there is his truth, his truth, as you say.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:13:09):
That is true. Yep. That is true. He actually told some truth in there. Like whoever killed Paul had a hate for him. And telling his sister-in-law, whoever did this, had planned it for a long time.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:13:27):
And he had to plan a lot of that for the way he got rid of evidence. And I don't know for how long he did it, but I don't think he could have come up with it that fast.
Bill Huffman (01:13:37):
Do you think he had any help?
Rita Y. Shuler (01:13:41):
Bill Huffman (01:13:44):
I'm just thinking of the bag, like the OJ Simpson, the bag when he comes back from Chicago and that bag was never seen again. And the mystery of what was in it.
Bill Huffman (01:13:56):
And I was just wondering if there was ever any thought that somebody that maybe he knew took all that stuff, the guns and the clothes and got rid of it for him. But you don't think so.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:14:10):
I don't think so.
Bill Huffman (01:14:11):
Yeah. And that would probably come out trial anyway, so-
Rita Y. Shuler (01:14:14):
Yeah, yeah. I don't think so. And even with that blue raincoat too, he took that in that night. Why'd he leave that there? That's a question. Why did he leave that there? Maybe he thought they would never go over to Alameda and process that scene too.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:14:34):
But he could have got rid of that along with whatever else he was getting rid of. But I guess some things just, you're going, oh my God, he made a mistake here, made a mistake here. Some just, you can't wrap your head around.
Benjamin Morris (01:14:52):
The web of lies eventually always unravels and we are so grateful that justice here was served.
Benjamin Morris (01:15:00):
Now if it had just been the financial crimes he'd been convicted of, he would've gone to a low security prison. But since this is a murder charge, he's gone to a high security state penitentiary. And I wanted to ask you, Rita, is that the same state penitentiary that Elaine's killer is currently at?
Rita Y. Shuler (01:15:18):
No, no. Elaine's killer is in a mental institution, in Columbia. But it's secured. He can never get out of there. And they have bars on the windows. It's just like a jail. But they have to deal with the mental issue. Department of Corrections ain't pretty.
Bill Huffman (01:15:40):
I'm happy to hear that, even though that's bad that people are in jail, but you can't put people in jail and not deal with their mental illnesses that have put them there because you're going to end up with-
Rita Y. Shuler (01:15:56):
Yeah. The Department of Corrections is a complete different facility that has the bad guys, the murderers, but also some ... the druggies too. The Department of Correction is, and the main one is in Columbia. That would be the one he would probably go to.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:16:15):
But we have other Department of Corrections, smaller in different counties here in South Carolina.
Benjamin Morris (01:16:23):
It'd be interesting to see what his legal team tries to wangle for him.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:16:28):
You never know.
Benjamin Morris (01:16:29):
You never know. You never know.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:16:30):
You never know. And I think too, after this happened, when they put him in rehab, he was probably in a nice room and all in rehab. He was in the jail in Columbia, I believe, for his financial crimes. And then they brought him down here for the trial. So, I think he's been standing, we call it a county jail down here. And that's not the finest place to be.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:17:06):
I'll tell you this.
Bill Huffman (01:17:06):
I don't think any kind of jail is a good place to be.
Benjamin Morris (01:17:09):
I think you've said volumes there.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:17:13):
I think any jail is a bad place to be, just society wise.
Bill Huffman (01:17:18):
You’ve made a bad choice.
Benjamin Morris (01:17:19):
Rita Y. Shuler (01:17:20):
I'll tell you one thing. When I saw this yesterday and as my mama said, again, grind my gizzard to see him not being in shackles. But I can understand the judge doing that.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:17:33):
But then him covering up his handcuffs, walking in the courthouse, when that happened yesterday, I said, "He'll go out of hearing handcuffs, and he'll come back in handcuffs tomorrow and he ain't going to have his nice clothes on. That'll be one set of clothes he really wants to get rid of. But he ain't going to do it. There's no way he can do it."
Bill Huffman (01:17:54):
But that did my heart good.
Benjamin Morris (01:17:56):
What an end. What an end. So, the last question that we have for you, Rita. We always ask about aftermaths. We always ask about kind of where things go at the end of a case like this.
Benjamin Morris (01:18:07):
And the question that I have for you is, what ripple effects do you see this verdict having for Walterboro and this the surrounding counties for the whole area that used to be under the Murdaugh thumb? What do you see happening back home?
Rita Y. Shuler (01:18:28):
They will go on living; they will get back to living. This will always be there, it's history now. Not that they wanted it, but it's history now. It'll always be there.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:18:42):
But the people in Walterboro, the people in South Carolina are strong just like when they come back from a hurricane. And we've had many of them, they're strong, they love their community, and they don't like people doing bad in their community.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:18:58):
So, I think they'll bounce back real good. It'll be talked about forever. And there'll be books about it, I guess. And it'll be in South Carolina's tainted history for years.
Rita Y. Shuler (01:19:09):
But we have a lot of them in tainted history and not that we want it, but it's there. But Walterboro will be fine. They'll be Walterboro proud, just like South Carolina's proud now. And it's a good day in South Carolina.