Unexpected Lesson From the Alex Murdaugh Trial

Alex Murdaugh, a South Carolina lawyer is now in the final stages of his trial for the June 2021 murders. He will be going to a jury. I have one takeaway from the trial of the Southern princeling, after listening to endless hours of testimony.

My lesson is not that tunnel-visioned detectives found a suspect, then tried to piece together evidence, missing weapons, speculations, hatred for the opioid-addicted good boy, and built a circumstantial case against him.

My lesson is not that the self-flagellating, lying thief testified that he was a theft and a lie, but that he’s not an assassin. It will be interesting to see what the jury learns from that bit of information.

Prosecutors said that the 54-year-old trial attorney had murdered his wife and son because of “the imminent threat [of] personal, legal, and financial ruin.” It was not clear how the successful trial lawyer would resolve his financial problems by killing most of his immediate relatives. It’s not all that easy to understand, though.

Murdaugh may be convicted. Meanwhile, there are no fewer than two TV treatments of the case basically declaring the hedonistic attorney guilty, guilty, guilty.

Investigators and experts talked about Maggie Murdaugh’s phone during the trial. It was here that it became interesting for me.

This was the point that was highlighted by the defense attorney’s rambling closing argument which contained this information:

Maggie’s GPS data disappeared from the day after the murders because SLED agents failed to properly protect it, Jim Griffin stated. He said that SLED agents took too long to retrieve Maggie’s phone and never put it in a Faraday bag. These bags protect phones from radio waves.

Griffin stated, “Had they done that, I wish we wouldn’t have been here.” “It would say… Alex Murdaugh wasn’t driving down Moselle Road with Maggie’s phone in the vehicle and tossed it at any time.”

After hearing about Faraday bags being used by special operators and spooks, I briefly considered giving Faraday bags as a gift to my family for Christmas. I was prompted to reconsider the idea by the Murdaugh trial.

How to Geek explains the basics of a Faraday bag:

Faraday bags work in the same way as Faraday cages to block wireless signals from reaching your devices. What are the benefits of using one? How is it different from turning off the device or using airplane mode?

The conductive metal mesh surrounds the object and creates a cage. An electromagnetic field is created when the cage is surrounded by objects.

Your smartphone may not have a removable battery. Furthermore, your Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other internal radios operate by a software switch, not a physical kill switch. This means that you don’t know if your smartphone is sending or receiving data when it is in airplane mode, or when you turn Wi-Fi off.

It’s fine to add it to your personal privacy toolbox. It’s a powerful way to block wireless communication from your devices if you don’t want Google to know you visit certain places. These bags can be used to quickly address a problem with your phone if it is suspected that the rootkit or other tracking malware has infected it. Hackers can’t change the laws of physics.

Assume your phone is pinging a tower. Always.

Due to incomplete phone data, trial prosecutors speculated on many things related to Murdaugh. His attorney stated that investigators could have saved crucial data from the day of Murdaugh’s murder if they had placed Maggie Murdaugh’s phone in a Faraday bag. They argued that it would prove that Alex Murdaugh didn’t travel with the phone he murdered and was not the one who dropped it into the brush. Each side made up stories using the absence of data.

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 federal agents, and politically poisoned investigators highlight the importance of not giving any information investigators can pull out to create a story. Ask grandmas who owned iPhones in the vicinity of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, and people who were blocked from using hotels due to their phones being in Washington, D.C. around that time.

Just a thought.