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Trial by Fitbit

I watched some of the cross examination of Alex Murdaugh who is on trial for brutally murdering his wife and son — I’m a lawyer voyeur, as well as a reader of Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog — and happened to come in as the prosecution was pinning Murdaugh down with step-and-time data from Murdaugh’s cell phone. Sample:

8:05:35-8:09:52 p.m.: Alex Murdaugh’s phone records 54 steps.

8:05:46-8:15:24 p.m.: Paul Murdaugh’s phone records 303 steps.

8:06 p.m.: Paul’s phone begins moving from the kennels to the main house.

8:07:20 p.m.: Paul Murdaugh sends a Snapchat message to several friends.

8:09-9:02 p.m.: Alex’s phone records no steps, indicating he was not moving with the phone in his possession. He later told investigators he was sleeping during that time.

8:11:08-8:31:15 p.m.: Maggie Murdaugh’s phone is locked.

8:14-8:35 p.m.: Paul Murdaugh’s phone puts him at the main house.

8:15:55-8:21:45 p.m.: Paul’s phone records 140 steps.

8:17-8:18 p.m.: Maggie Murdaugh’s phone records 38 steps taken.

Note to self: The next time I plan on criming, leave my mobile phone at home watching PBS.

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2 Responses to “Trial by Fitbit”

  1. I must take exemption to your use of the term “brutally murdered.” Is the “brutally“ really needed? I know that 99% of the time when the word “murdered” is used “brutally” is attached to it. But is it really necessary? Are there gentle murders, kind murders, thoughtful murders, considerate murders? If someone was murdered it should go without saying that it was brutal. And as my English professor Robert Gross often pointed out, if something goes without saying, don’t say it.

  2. I disagree. There’s a difference often worth capturing between being murdered by being drawn and quartered and by being slipped an overdose of sleeping pills. Of course both victims are dead, but one’s death was cruel and painful.

    That perhaps should have some effect on the punishment of the murderer, both because murder + torture is worse than murder alone, and because it says something about the character of the murderer. But i don’t have coherent thoughts about the morality of punishment.

    But I agree that it’s not entirely clear what we count as brutal and we don’t. And I admit that I used the term thoughtlessly; it’s an easy cliche to fall into.

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