Kenneth Kinsey ’91
“If I’m going to put my hand on that Bible and swear to something, I’m not going to be wrong because I didn’t check,” says Kenneth Kinsey, chief deputy in the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office and seasoned forensics consultant.
In October 2022, Kinsey was hired by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office as an
expert witness for the high-profile Alex Murdaugh case. As soon as Kinsey joined the team, he made plans to travel to Colleton County, South Carolina, where Murdaugh, a disgraced Lowcountry lawyer, was convicted of killing his wife and son on their family property known as Moselle. It was personally important for Kinsey to visit the scene of the crime for verification, using all five senses and his time-tested deductive reasoning.
“There are some experts that when you hire them, they jump on an airplane and show up on testimony day. But I’m not that expert.”
Kinsey began his law enforcement career 30 years ago after graduating from Clemson with a degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. But Kinsey admits he didn’t love school and was a poor student.
That changed years later when, as a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agent working all 46 counties and 60 to 70 hours a week, Kinsey applied to Troy University’s criminal justice master’s program on a whim. He was surprised when he was accepted within days of his application.
“I figured something would come up, and then I would have a good excuse to quit and save face,” Kinsey laughs. “That went on for 13 months, and I finished very close to a 4.0 GPA.”
In May 2019, Kinsey completed his Ph.D. at Walden University; his numerous degrees and certifications combined with decades of crime scene experience made him an ideal candidate to assist in the Murdaugh case, which Kinsey says was an intense five months of his life that culminated in the January trial.
Perhaps one of the trial’s most revealing moments was the re-creation of the shooter in the feed room door (where Paul Murdaugh was killed), performed by Kinsey and Attorney General Alan Wilson in the courtroom. The demonstration disproved the defense’s theories that Paul Murdaugh was shot in the back of the head and from inside the feed room.
Several other theories, including the two-shooter theory and the shooter’s shoe imprint on Maggie Murdaugh, were refuted by Kinsey throughout his testimony, thanks in part to his blood spatter, ballistics and tire tread analyses.
Kinsey’s phone lit up after the first day of testimony (“I had about 60 text messages and
30-something LinkedIn invitations. I haven’t had a LinkedIn invitation in over 10 years!”), and when he arrived at court the following day, he was met by an applauding crowd.
The judge inquired about the noise. The reply: “That’s Dr. Kinsey walking up!” But Kinsey can’t quite wrap his head around the attention.
“This is me we’re talking about,” he laughs. “I’m doing the same thing I’ve done for 22 of my 30 years.
“But if I can get somebody answers, whether it be the family that’s lost a loved one or a person in jail who’s been wrongly convicted — I look at it down the middle of the road until I can prove it one way or the other.”