COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Alex Murdaugh was on the stand Friday for a second full day of testimony in his murder trial.
Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife Margaret and youngest son Paul at their family property in June of 2021.
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The majority of the day was cross-examination by state prosecution Creighton Waters, who took aim at Murdaugh’s credibility any chance he got.
Waters consistently pointed out that Murdaugh has lied to everyone, including the people he loves, for decades. Waters asked Murdaugh why the jury should believe him when he says he didn’t kill Maggie and Paul, especially since he lied about being at the scene just minutes before Maggie and Paul are believed to have been murdered.
Murdaugh admitted to stealing money to fund an opioid addiction and lying to cover it up but remained adamant he could never hurt his wife and son. He believes whoever killed Maggie and Paul did it because of rumors and misrepresentations of Paul brought about by the boat case.
Murdaugh’s defense didn’t spend much time in redirect, but worked damage control to paint Murdaugh as a grieving father struggling with opioid addiction.
Defense expects to call four witnesses Monday and hopefully rest their case by mid-afternoon.
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4:44 p.m. – Court is in recess until 9:30 a.m. Monday. Harpootlian says he anticipates four witnesses Monday and that they expects to rest by Monday afternoon. Waters says that they anticipate a couple of reply witnesses.
Harpootlian asks if Judge Newman will set a time limit on closing arguments. Judge Newman says no.
Harpootlian asks if he and Griffin can split the final argument considering the lengthy nature of the case. He says they would agree to a two-hour limit if they could split the argument. Prosecution objects, saying that is not the standard. Judge Newman says he has never done that and he is not inclined to do it, but he will look at whatever Harpootlian wants him to look at.
4:38 p.m. – Prosecution questions Murdaugh again. Waters accuses Murdaugh of being more concerned about a bag of pills in his pocket than about his wife and son. Murdaugh says no.
Waters accuses Murdaugh of being so concerned with getting the cell phone data because he was a lawyer and he knew how to manufacture an alibi to cover his tracks.
Waters asks if yesterday Murdaugh testified that he knows he hurt the ones he loves. Murdaugh says he did. Waters tries to end the testimony. Murdaugh asks to explain. He says Waters is implying he killed Maggie and Paul. He says that is not what he meant. He meant he hurt his family, his law partners, his clients, etc through his addiction and financial crimes.
Waters concludes. Murdaugh is dismissed from the stand.
4:11 p.m. – Court resumes. Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins redirect with Murdaugh.
Griffin asks if Murdaugh has pending criminal charges for his financial crimes. Murdaugh says yes.
Griffin asks if Murdaugh was an addict. Murdaugh says he is an addict. He says he lied to cover it up.
Griffin presents texts from Paul to Murdaugh sent May 30 and a picture of Paul’s feet. Murdaugh testified that Paul had high blood pressure and his feet were swelling. He says he and Maggie talked about it the night of the murders.
A text about Murdaugh’s father’s health is also presented.
Griffin asks about the 283 steps Murdaugh took at 9:02 p.m. the night of the murders. Waters had questioned what he described as increased activity. Griffin asks if Murdaugh had Maggie’s phone with him. Murdaugh says he didn’t have her phone at any point that night. Griffin points out that the phone data shows Maggie and Murdaugh’s phones were not moving together at the same time.
Griffin asks if Murdaugh repeatedly asked SLED to get phone and GPS data. He says he did. He said it was important to him because Maggie’s phone was located down the road. He knew he never had his phone with him or in his car, and the data would show that.
Griffin asks about the inaccurate times Murdaugh gave SLED. Murdaugh says that he wasn’t lying, he was giving estimates. He says he often told SLED that he wasn’t sure of the exact time, but they could check his phone or car or keycard for the exact time.
Griffin asks if Murdaugh saw anybody else down at the kennels. Murdaugh says no.
Griffin asks about the roadside shooting. Murdaugh says that he lied because the shooting went sideways and he didn’t die. He says his main concern at that point was that he didn’t want Buster to know he tried to kill himself.
Griffin asks if Murdaugh murdered Maggie and Paul. Murdaugh says no. He says if he was under the pressure that the prosecution claims he was under, he would’ve hurt himself, not Maggie or Paul.
3:54 p.m. – Court is taking a 15-minute break.
2:24 p.m. – Court resumes. Waters continues playing the interview with Owen from the night of the murders. He says he is trying to figure out at what point that night Murdaugh decided to start lying about the murders. Murdaugh says that he doesn’t think he can give Waters an exact time. Murdaugh says there were several factors and circumstances that made him paranoid.
Waters brings up the boat wreck. Murdaugh says that he never believed that any of the kids who were on the boat, or their families, had anything to do with hurting Maggie and Paul. But he does believe someone killed them because of the boat wreck. He says that the rumors generated on social media caused Paul to get vile threats. He says that whoever did this hated Paul and had a lot of anger, and the rumors about the boat case are the only reason someone could hate Paul.
Waters mocks the theory, asking Murdaugh if he believes a 5’2″ 12-year-old vigilante knew Paul and Maggie would be at the kennels and that Murdaugh would be gone between 9:06 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Waters plays the second SLED interview from June 10. He asks if Murdaugh was lying in that interview. Murdaugh says everything about him not going down to the kennels was a lie. Waters accuses Murdaugh of being able to lie so easily and so naturally.
Waters begins asking about who Murdaugh borrowed money from to cover the Farris fees. He says he borrowed money from Johnny Parker, Chris Wilson, and Palmetto State Bank. Waters asks why Murdaugh didn’t borrow all the money from PSB. He says he was limited on the amount he could borrow because Maggie had died.
Waters asks about the missing 300-Blackout. Murdaugh says that Paul’s was stolen or went missing around the Halloween party. The replacement went missing as well and Murdaugh says he hadn’t seen it since around Christmas. Will Loving says that they used the replacement at Moselle during turkey season. Murdaugh says he believes Loving, but he didn’t see it himself. He says Paul was horrible about leaving guns everywhere.
Waters brings up the September 2021 confrontation with his law partners about the stolen funds. He brings up the roadside shooting. Waters points out that Murdaugh lied to SLED throughout that investigation.
Waters says when accountability is at Murdaugh’s door, bad things happen. He brings up June 7 and September 4. Murdaugh says he doesn’t believe June 7 happened because of accountability at his door. He says that the roadside shooting wasn’t to garner sympathy. He expected to die.
Waters says that shame is an extraordinary provocation for Murdaugh. He says it is Murdaugh’s biggest concern. Murdaugh says he doesn’t like to be shamed, but it’s not his biggest concern.
Waters asks if Murdaugh has had a successful career. Murdaugh says no, he was an addict for 20 years, so he doesn’t consider that successful. He says his self-esteem was low.
Waters asks if in June of 2021, Murdaugh was coming to a point of financial crisis. Murdaugh says he was having financial issues like he had many times in the past.
Waters asks if Murdaugh is a family annihilator. Murdaugh asks if he means did he shoot his wife and son? Murdaugh says no, he would never hurt them under any circumstances. Waters asks if Murdaugh lied to Maggie and Paul. He says he did sometimes. Waters asks if he lied to others and goes through a list of family members, friends, colleagues, clients, and law enforcement. Murdaugh says yes to each. He qualifies some saying that he didn’t directly talk to them, but he stole from them.
Waters says people lie because they know they have done something wrong. Murdaugh says in most cases he did do something wrong.
Waters points out that Murdaugh is a perpetual liar, yet he wants the jury to believe the story Waters says he manufactured yesterday. Murdaugh says that’s not true.
Waters plays the Daniel Greene bodycam video from the night of the murders. Greene was first on the scene. Greene asks the last time Murdaugh was with Maggie and Paul. Murdaugh says it was earlier that night. He says he went to his mom’s and he probably saw them 45 minutes before that. Waters says he lied to Greene about the last time he saw Maggie and Paul and he lied to the jury about all the reasons he lied to agent Owen. Murdaugh says he does not agree. Prosecution rests.
1:00 p.m. – Court is breaking for lunch and will resume at 2:15 p.m.
11:38 a.m. – Court is in session. Judge Newman reminds everyone in the courtroom that there should be no reaction to the testimony.
Waters asks if there was any blood on the chicken that Murdaugh took from Bubba. Murdaugh says he doesn’t think so.
Waters asks if Murdaugh took his phone down to the kennels. Murdaugh says he must not have. He says that’s not unusual if he was just going for a short period of time.
They discuss Murdaugh’s movements earlier that night. Murdaugh said that he went back to the house to meet Maggie when she got home and Paul stayed at the shop. Waters points out a period of steps on Murdaugh’s phone at 8:09 p.m. and assumes they were at the house. He says Paul’s phone showed him at the house at 8:08 p.m., which would make Murdaugh’s story not true. Murdaugh says the data doesn’t dispute his recollection. The step data is a time range, not exactly 8:09 p.m., the steps could’ve been recorded before he got to the house, etc.
Murdaugh can’t recall if Maggie was there before he got there or if she got back after. The data shows Maggie’s phone disconnected from her car at 8:17 p.m. Murdaugh says he thinks she got back earlier. He says it was common for her to get home and leave her phone in her car, then go get it later.
Murdaugh says he set his phone down when he got home and went to take a shower. He doesn’t recall exactly where he set his phone down. Paul was not inside when Murdaugh went to get in the shower. Waters points out that Paul’s phone is shown in the house at 8:08 p.m. Murdaugh points out that the records show a range of where Paul could’ve been. He could’ve just pulled up to the house.
Waters points out that there is a gap in Murdaugh’s phone between 8:09 p.m. and 9:06 p.m., then there is a large concentration of steps right before he leaves for his mom’s house. Waters asks what Murdaugh was doing in the four minutes of activity. Murdaugh says he knows he was getting up and getting ready to visit his mom. Waters asks why Murdaugh is so clear on some parts of the night and so fuzzy on others. Murdaugh says he doesn’t agree with that characterization. He says he can’t remember exactly what he was doing, but he can tell Waters that he definitely wasn’t cleaning up or disposing of guns.
Waters asks why Murdaugh also made “a ton of phone calls” during that period. Murdaugh says he called his dad and called Maggie twice. He says that’s not uncommon.
Waters asks about the missing calls from Murdaugh’s call log. Murdaugh says he did not intentionally delete any phone calls. Murdaugh says he has been in enough cases involving phone calls to know that deleting calls from the call log doesn’t delete them permanently.
Waters flat-out accuses Murdaugh of making the phone calls to manufacture an alibi. Murdaugh says that is false. Waters again asks how Murdaugh remembers some things so clearly and not others.
Waters brings up Murdaugh asking Maggie to come back to Moselle. Murdaugh says Waters is implying he called Maggie sometime during the day and asked her to come home. He says he didn’t call her specifically about that. He always wanted her to come home and probably would’ve asked her earlier that day. He also says that both Bubba and Grady being in their kennels leads him to believe Maggie was at the very least undecided about staying at Edisto because she always had one or both of the dogs with her.
They continue looking at the timeline from the rest of the night. Waters asks if Murdaugh tried to convince Mushell Smith to lie about how long he spent at his mom’s house. Murdaugh says he knew the data was going to show how long he was there, so he wouldn’t have tried to do that.
Waters asks about when Murdaugh arrived to the murder scene. He asks if Murdaugh got out of the car and checked the bodies before he called 911. Murdaugh says no. He says he saw them, jumped out, went back to the car and called 911, then went and checked the bodies. Murdaugh is emotional as he recalls the scene.
Waters tries to poke holes in Murdaugh’s account, implying that he checked the bodies before he called 911. Murdaugh says he was on the phone with 911 while he was checking Paul’s body.
Waters says that is not what Murdaugh told law enforcement. He plays the video of the interview with SLED agent David Owen from the night of the murders.
11:20 a.m. – Court is in recess for a 15-minute break.
9:35 a.m. – Court is in session.
State prosecutor Creighton Waters continues cross-examining Alex Murdaugh.
Waters asks about Murdaugh’s habit of stealing client money. Murdaugh admits that he did not use all of the money for drugs and that he progressively took more over the years.
However, he says that he doesn’t believe that he started taking more after the boat wreck. Waters points out that Murdaugh stole over $3 million in 2019 alone, which was more than any other year prior. Murdaugh says that is probably correct and he won’t dispute the documents.
Waters asks if Murdaugh’s legitimate income generally started decreasing in 2015. Murdaugh says that as a plaintiff’s lawyer, income ebbs and flows; you have good years and bad years depending on the cases you work. Murdaugh says that he probably did have some lean years. He recalls that in June of 2021, he was working on what he says was probably one of his biggest cases ever, a case involving Dominion Energy.
Waters asks if Murdaugh had a million-dollar line of credit from Palmetto State Bank that was almost maxed out. Murdaugh agrees.
Waters goes back to a line of questioning from Thursday asking Murdaugh if he looked each client he stole from in the eye and lied to them. Murdaugh says he doesn’t know if he sat down with each client, but he admits he gained the trust of each client, lied to them, stole from them, and many were people he knew and cared about.
Waters brings up the case of Barrett Boulware, someone Murdaugh knew well and had been involved in real estate dealings with. Murdaugh says that Boulware was a unique case because they had a lot of history and he covered a lot of Boulware’s debts. He says now that he realizes there is no excuse for what he did, but at the time, he found a lot of ways to justify his actions.
Waters asks if Murdaugh remembers looking Tony Satterfield in the eye and lying to him. Murdaugh says yes.
Waters asks how many pills Murdaugh was using a day between January and June of 2021. Murdaugh says it depends on a lot of factors, including the type and strength of the pill. Murdaugh says that if the pills were 30mg instant-release oxycodone, he might take over 60 pills a day. Some days he may take more, and some days he may take less.
He says opiates gave him energy.
Murdaugh says he built up a tolerance and got to the point where he was taking a lot of pills just to avoid slipping into withdrawals.
Waters asks about how strong withdrawals are. He asks Murdaugh to describe them. Murdaugh it starts with a sort of agitation and fidgetiness. Then, he says you are physically sick with symptoms similar to the flu; aches, pains, profuse sweating, etc. Then you get “jumpy legs” and uncontrollable diarrhea and start vomiting.
Waters asks how many times Murdaugh tried to self-detox. Murdaugh says dozens if not hundreds.
He asks if anyone in the family ever saw Murdaugh having the withdrawals. Murdaugh says yes. Maggie, Paul, Buster, his dad, his brothers, etc. But Murdaugh willingly points out his brothers didn’t see until September of 2021.
Waters points out Murdaugh said in an interview that when withdrawals started, you would do anything to make them stop. Murdaugh corrects him, saying he believes he said “almost anything.”
Waters asks about the paranoia Murdaugh mentioned Thursday. Murdaugh said he always had pills on him because he was afraid if he put them down someone would find them. That made him edgy whenever he saw the police. But, he could usually reason his way out of the paranoia.
Waters asks about Paul finding pills, including just a month before the murders. Murdaugh points out it was Maggie that found them. In previous testimony, the state presented a May 2021 text from Paul to Murdaugh saying they all needed to talk about the pills.
Murdaugh says the incident wasn’t unusual. He says they had been “watching him like a hawk” for years with regard to his pill use, and that was just another instance where he let them down.
Waters asks if, in May of 2021, Maggie and Paul were trying to get him to self-detox again. He says no, it is not that simple. He explains that they knew he was taking pills. He had tried to self-detox many times and could get through the detox but couldn’t stay off the pills. He and Paul had a talk and Murdaugh promised Paul that after Paul’s criminal case was over, Murdaugh would go to rehab.
Waters makes a comment about it being the first time Murdaugh has mentioned that. Murdaugh gets defensive, saying to Waters that his defense team has been reaching out to the prosecution since he got arrested trying to come clean about financial crimes, etc, but the prosecution ignored the invitations. Murdaugh says he has been trying since January to sit down and talk to the prosecution but multiple requests have been denied.
Waters pivots to the kennel story and asks if Murdaugh ever came clean about that to anyone before Thursday. Murdaugh says no, he never came clean about the kennels. But he tried to come clean about a lot of other things. Waters asks if Murdaugh’s own lawyers knew about the kennels in November of 2022 when they were giving interviews on national television telling the other version of the story. Murdaugh says they don’t get to watch TV in jail. He says that the only TV thing he is aware of is the HBO documentary that Griffin participated in, and when it was in production, Griffin did not know about the kennels.
Waters asks about the June 7 confrontation with Jeanne Seckinger. Murdaugh says to him it wasn’t a confrontation. He believes Seckinger feels betrayed and believes that it was a confrontation, but at the time, he did not interpret it that way. He says he knows she was just doing her job.
Waters asks how Murdaugh wasn’t concerned about the interaction if he was so paranoid. Murdaugh says the paranoia was always related to pills.
Waters asks about the confrontation Mark Tinsley said happened at the trial lawyer’s convention. Tinsley testified that Murdaugh approached him and asked why he was going after him in the boat case. Murdaugh said that “absolutely, unequivocally never happened.”
Waters shows Murdaugh a string of texts between him and Maggie from June 6, 2021. The family was in Columbia for a baseball game. The texts are entered into evidence.
Murdaugh was in the hotel while the family was at the baseball game. He said that he was going to meet them after he checked out. Maggie texted him saying that if he wasn’t feeling well he probably shouldn’t come to the game because it was hot and muggy. Waters asks if he was suffering from withdrawals. Murdaugh says he was beginning to. Waters says Maggie and Paul were making him detox because they had found pills the month prior. Murdaugh says no.
Waters asks about June 7. They go through the day. Waters asks if Murdaugh disputes the time the Snapchat video of him with the tree was taken. Murdaugh says he doesn’t know what time it was taken, but he doesn’t dispute whatever the record shows.
Murdaugh says he went back to the house when Maggie got home and Paul stayed at the shop.
Waters asks why Murdaugh changed his mind about going down to the kennels with Maggie after dinner. He says that when Maggie wanted him to do something, he usually ended up doing it even if he didn’t want to at first.
Waters asks about how long it takes to drive to the kennels on the golf cart. Murdaugh says a few minutes. Waters asks if Murdaugh arrived before the kennel video. Murdaugh says yes, very shortly before.
Murdaugh says he doesn’t think he and Maggie discussed going to Alameda while they were at the kennels.
Murdaugh says he was down there for a couple of minutes talking to Maggie before he took the chicken from Bubba, then he left shortly after taking the chicken from Bubba.
Waters asks if Murdaugh was in withdrawal at the time. Murdaugh says no.
Waters asks if the dogs were acting strangely like they sensed someone unfamiliar around. Murdaugh says no, there was no one else around.
Waters asks why Murdaugh left so quickly. Murdaugh says it was chaotic, it was hot, and he “was getting ready to do exactly what he didn’t want to do…sweat.” Waters asks if Murdaugh said bye. Murdaugh says he would’ve said he was leaving, but he wouldn’t have said a formal goodbye.
Waters asks if Murdaugh left the kennels around 8:47 p.m. Murdaugh says he is not sure, but he thinks that could be correct. It took around two minutes to get back to the house, he parked the golfcart and went inside the house, which would put him at the house around 8:49 p.m. Murdaugh says he laid down on the couch again for a “short time.” At 9:02 p.m., Murdaugh’s phone records steps.
Waters asks if the tan 300-Blackout and 12-gauge shotgun were on the golf cart. Murdaugh says no.
Waters asks if Murdaugh heard anything while he was at the house. Murdaugh says no. Waters points out that Murdaugh told law enforcement he thought he may have heard a car pull up or maybe a cat outside. Murdaugh says that when he went outside to leave, he thought he heard a cat that lives on the property. Waters asks Murdaugh how he didn’t hear 300-Blackout shots but he may have heard a hat.
Waters points out that Murdaugh has told the jury he has been cooperative with law enforcement. Murdaugh says he has, with the exception of the kennel video. Waters says the fact that Murdaugh was at the murder scene just minutes before the murders is the most important part of this case.
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