Dad & I had been wondering what all the big deal was around this murder trial. Of course as you remember what my first squad leader said about learning from other’s experiences
And if you didn’t know this already
The trial of South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh for the June 2021 murders of his son and wife is wrapping up and headed to a jury. Throughout the interminable weeks of testimony, I’ve come away with one takeaway from the trial of the Southern princeling.
No, my lesson is not that tunnel-visioned investigators settled on a suspect and then sought to cobble together speculations, missing weapons, evidence, and hatred for the privileged, opioid-addicted good-old-boy, and did what they could to build a circumstantial case against him.
No, my lesson is not that the self-flagellating thief and liar testified that yes, he was a thief and a liar, but believe him now when he says he’s not a murderer. It’ll be interesting to see how the jury received that bit of information.
Prosecutors claimed that the 54-year-old trial attorney murdered his wife and son due to “the imminent threat of ‘personal, legal and financial ruin.” Left unexplained was how the successful trial attorney would solve his financial problems by murdering most of his immediate family. But not everything has to make sense, I guess.
Murdaugh may be convicted. Meanwhile, there are no fewer than two TV treatments of the case basically declaring the hedonistic attorney guilty, guilty, guilty.
During the trial, investigators and experts discussed Maggie Murdaugh’s phone. This is where it got interesting for me.
This point was highlighted in the defense attorney’s meandering closing argument, which included this information:
SLED agents didn’t properly preserve Maggie’s phone, causing crucial GPS data from the day of the killings to disappear, [Jim] Griffin said. SLED agents waited too long to extract her phone and they never placed it in a Faraday bag, he said. (These bags shield phones from radio waves.)
“Had they done it, I hope we wouldn’t be here,” Griffin said. “I know it would say … Alex Murdaugh was not driving down Moselle Road with Maggie’s phone in the car and tossed it at whatever time.”
I briefly thought about giving Faraday bags to my family last Christmas after hearing spooks and special operators talking about them. Then the Murdaugh trial prompted me to revisit the idea.
The website How to Geek explains what a Faraday bag is:
Faraday bags use the same principles as a Faraday cage to prevent wireless signals from leaving or reaching your devices. So what are the reasons to use one, and how is it different from turning the device off or using airplane mode?
These cages work by surrounding an object with a conductive metal mesh. When an electromagnetic field encounters the cage, it’s conducted around the objects inside. […]
Consider that your smartphone probably doesn’t have a removable battery and that your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other internal radios are operated by a software switch—not a physical kill-switch. In other words, you have no way of knowing that your device is really not sending and receiving data when you put it in airplane mode or toggle Wi-Fi off.
[…] [T]here’s nothing wrong with adding it to your personal privacy arsenal. The ability to cut off your devices from wireless communication is a powerful option when you don’t, for example, want Google to know that you’re visiting certain places. If you suspect that your phone has been compromised by serious tracking malware, like a rootkit, these bags provide a non-technical way to deal with the issue immediately. Even hackers can’t hack the laws of physics, after all.
Always assume your phone is pinging a tower. Always.
Trial prosecutors speculated about all manner of things relating to Murdaugh due to the incomplete phone data. His attorney said that if investigators had put Maggie Murdaugh’s phone in a Faraday bag, it would have preserved crucial data on the day of the murder that was lost. It would show, they argued, that Alex Murdaugh never traveled with his murdered wife’s phone and therefore wasn’t the one who flung it out the window of a car into the brush. Each side used the lack of data to conjure up stories.
Can these data points act as exculpatory evidence? Sure. Can these data points alternatively be used to convict you of being somewhere or doing something doubleplusungood? “Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law,” so also yes.
Recent events, unethical investigators, and politically poisoned federal agents highlight for me the importance of not testifying against yourself by giving anyone tons of data investigators can extract and weave into a made-up story. Just ask grandmas who had iPhones near the Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021, or people blocked from using hotels because their phones were in Washington, D.C., around that date.
Just a thought.