WALTERBORO, S.C. — Jurors in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh heard from from the defendant for the first time, who told them he would never have intentionally harmed his wife and son. But prosecutors spent the day trying to paint him as a man who couldn't be trusted.
Murdaugh stood before Judge Clifton Newman Thursday and informed the court of his plans. Around 10:45 a.m. he took the stand
Defense attorney Jim Griffin did not waste any time getting right to the point: his first questions to his client were whether or not Murdaugh killed his family.
"I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them," he told jurors, repeatedly saying no to any questions that he was the one who pulled the trigger.
Murdaugh said he lied to investigators about being at the dog kennels on the night of the murders because in some circumstances in his life, during times of stress, he would get paranoid. He said he had a distrust for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the state police agency called in to investigate.
As for why he kept lying, Murdaugh said once he started he had to keep going. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave," he said. "Once I told a lie — I told my family — I had to keep lying.”
He apologized to his family for the lies. He broke down in tears when describing the love he had for his murdered son, Paul.
Murdaugh later described finding his wife and son's body, saying that he saw Paul's head had been blown apart. "I didn't know what to do," he said.
He later thought back on the threats he said Paul had received about a boat crash that left a young college student, Mallory Beach, dead. Paul was on the boat and had been charged in the case. Murdaugh said the threats on social media to Paul had been terrible but he dismissed them. "I thought it was over the top," he told jurors. On the 911 tape from the night of the killings he can be heard saying, "I should have known" and on the stand Murdaugh said that was about not taking those threats more seriously.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian had tried to get Judge Clifton Newman to set boundaries on the prosecution’s scope on cross-examination by asking for any financial information to be excluded. Judge Newman said he is upholding his earlier ruling that the financial testimony and any other testimony already in evidence will not be excluded from cross-examination.
Judge Newman then explained Alex’s rights to him as a witness. Alex has the right to take the Fifth Amendment, he can decide to testify or not, and if he does take the stand he will be examined and cross examined on any relevant issue in the case. Newman said Murdaugh's testimony must be voluntary with full knowledge of the consequences. If he decided not to testify, the judge will instruct the jury there should be no prejudice on his decision not to take the stand.
Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife Maggie and adult son Paul at the family's hunting property, known as Moselle, in June of 2021. Prosecutors say he shot the pair himself, while the defense argues police and the state rushed to judgment in picking Alex as the suspect.
You can find trial updates here every day. Watch live streaming testimony and coverage on wltx.com, on the WLTX+ streaming app on Amazon Fire and Roku TV, and on the News19 WLTX YouTube page.
Thursday Trial Updates
Richard Alexander Murdaugh
Jim Griffin announces the defendant wants to take the stand… Alex Murdaugh takes the stand.
On June 7, did you take this gun or any gun like it and shoot your son? No
On June 7, did you take this gun or any gun like it and blow your son’s brain out? No
Did you take this 300 Blackout or any gun like it and fire it into Maggie’s leg or Maggie’s torso or head? No. Mr. Griffin, I did not shoot my wife or my son, ever.
Is that you in the kennel video? Yes
Were you at kennels? Yes
Did you lie to SELD agents? I did lie to them
Did you lie to SLED agent Owen about staying at the house? I did lie to them
Did you lie about not being at the kennel? I did
Why did you lie? As my addiction evolved over time, I would get into circumstances where I would get paranoid instances that would be triggered by a look or something. After finding Paul and Mags, I had a sheriff taking GRS swabs, a sheriff talking to me, all paired together with a deep distrust for SLED, I had paranoid thoughts… and on June 7, I wasn’t thinking clearly… I don’t think I was capable of reasonable thought, and I lied. I’m sorry I did, I’m sorry to Buster, I’m sorry to all of the families… I would never intentionally do something to hurt anyone of them. Ever. Ever.
Did you continue to lie? Once I lied, I continued to lie… what a tangled web we weave… I had to keep lying.
Tell the jury what happened June 7.
Alex said he’d been at work that day. Should he start in the morning? OK, Maggie was leaving to go out of town for a doctor appointment and to Edisto, they had work being done in Edisto. He said always called Maggie to call and come home in the evening. He went to work and learned from Paul that the sunflower field had been sprayed and the flowers had died and had to be replanted. Paul was coming home – he says he learned that Monday morning. He met with Paul after work at the property. First thing they do, Alex says, is go to the dove field in Buster’s black pickup truck and knew they had to replant the fields. After that, Paul and he rode the property and spent time together -- went to the duck pond, several food plats, deer stands. Alex said they went to a cabin near Moselle Road, close to the driveway that goes to the shop and spent time at the shop – that was the main place, the hub of the property – where the kennels were located. That’s where all the tools were kept. He and Paul unloaded a bulldozer and washed it out. Alex said the snapchat with the tree is at a food plat called Sawtooth Oak where the fruit tree was planted that Alex was trying to get to stand up straight. Alex said you couldn’t be around Paul and not have a good time. Alex said he and Paul and Buster couldn’t be closer. “He was wonderful, wonderful.” Alex said loved doing anything with Paul. Paul was passionate about the property – he would work on anything on the property.
When do you remember you and Paul getting to Moselle?
Paul got there a bit before 7 and Alex said he got there a bit before. Maggie got there 8 or after 8. Alex believes he was at the shop when she came through. He believes she pulled through the kennel entrance. Maggie went to the house and Paul went to the house and left Paul at the shop. Alex said he took a shower.
The clothes in the shower in the photo entered into evidence are the ones he wore to work that day.
Alex said he was hot and sweaty after being out with Paul. He was heavy and taking prescription pills make him sweat. He changed into the clothes you saw… shorts and shirt.
After changing, he went out to Paul and Maggie for dinner. Maggie had fixed her and Alex’s plate. Paul was already eating, he’d never sat still. Alex and Maggie ate in the den on TV trays. The TV was on.
Alex said after dinner, Paul moved on, he doesn’t know where Paul was – he thought he might have gone to the shop but Paul wasn’t there in the house with him and Maggie. Maggie wanted to go the kennels and asked Alex to go. Alex said it was hot and he’d just showered and didn’t want to go, the dogs were always a chaotic scene, didn’t want to go.
Griffin asks Alex to start with Friday, June 4, and tell the jury what he did that weekend: His dad was in the hospital in Savannah. Alex went to visit Friday afternoon and spent the night there. Alex said he didn’t get much sleep. A nurse found him a soft chair.
Saturday, Alex said he had plans with Buster and Brookland with Maggie to go to the SC Regional baseball tournament in Columbia. They stayed in Columbia Saturday night, tailgated and Maggie met up with a college friend who had a son playing on the Carolina team. It was a fun time, Alex said. The game was a night game and after that, Alex said he, Buster, Brookland and Maggie went to restaurant at hotel and Buster and Brookland went home.
Sunday was another game and Alex said he then headed back to Moselle with Maggie. Alex and Maggie took Krispy Kreme donuts to Alex’s father and went home to Moselle.
Monday was a workday for Alex.
Griffin asks, when Maggie asked you to go to the kennels, were you tired? I was tired.
Alex believes Maggie rode with Paul to the kennels. Alex says he stayed in the house and laid down on the couch and then changed his mind and went to the kennels on a golf cart that was at the house. When he got to the kennels, there was a bit of chaos. Alex said it was clear Maggie had let her dogs out – Bubba and Grady. The first thing the dogs would do when let out was to go to the planted pine trees. Bubba marked every tree. When Alex got there, the dogs were near the trees and Grady was chasing guinea hens. Paul is fooling with Rogan’s dog Cash. Maggie was watching the dogs. Bubba caught a chicken, and Alex said he got the chicken away from the dog. He said on the stand, “It was about the chase with the dogs and chickens.” Alex said the chicken was stunned and put it on top of the kennel.
The video with Cash… Alex said Maggie was standing near the feed room when he pulled up. Paul was in the driveway and fooling with Cash. Alex didn’t know what Paul was doing with the phone. Bubba had a tracking collar on. Paul had a system of tracking collars, Alex said. Bubba would take off and run so he had on a tracking collar so he could easily be located.
Alex believes he put the chicken on top of a portable dog crate. The chicken did die.
Alex said he left the kennels after getting the chicken out of Bubba’s mouth. He said it didn’t take long to get the chicken out of the dog’s mouth. He demonstrated how he got the chicken out of Bubba’s mouth by pushing the dog’s lip against the dog’s sharp teeth.
Alex remembers the garden hose being out after seeing it in the video and photos.
Alex said he took the same route back to the house in the golf cart. He says he laid back down on the couch in front of the TV. He doesn’t remember what happened next. He says he made up his mind to go visit his mom. He understood his mom was agitated because Alex’s father was in the hospital. Alex was convinced Libby knew her husband was not at the house. Alex said he talked to Barbara (Libby’s dayside caretaker) about her condition and Libby loved Barbara and Barbara could get her in order. Barbara gave Libby medicine to help her sleep.
Alex said there are two entrances to the back deck of Almeda, and he parked on the edge of the grass to the left, where he always parked. He points out the location where he parked on an image from the OnStar data. He said he parked in front of the back door, to the left. Alex said his parents lived in the back of the house and the family parked in the back of the house. Alex said his father always stayed in the breakfast room or on the back deck, mother in her room or in kitchen or back deck.
Shelly Smith was there when Alex was there, he knocked on the door and door was locked so he called her to let him in. Alex said Smith came to the door and he went in and went to his mom’s bedroom to visit with her. She had a four-poster bed and a hospital bed and a recliner in the room. Libby was in the hospital bed. Alex said he sat on the hospital bed. He said his mom was awake and seemed to be doing well, wasn’t agitated, so Alex talked to her. He said he stayed there a few minutes, his mom looked tired, and he laid out on his mom’s four poster bed and watched TV with Shelly.
Maggie wasn’t planning to go with Alex that night, he said. He said Maggie loved his dad but didn’t like going to his mother’s. Alex said his mother was a shell of herself, she wasn’t healthy, and Maggie didn’t like going and visiting his mom.
Alex said he used the main entrance at the brick gates to exit Moselle. No reason to go to the kennels, as the main gate was closer to Almeda. Alex sad he tried to call Maggie twice and she didn’t answer, he wasn’t concerned because she was with Paul, and it wasn’t unusual not to get someone on the property because of spotty cell service.
Leaving Almeda, Alex said he went straight back to Moselle.
GPS data shows the Suburban idling at Almeda. Alex says he was getting his phone from where it fell in between the seat and the console at that time.
Griffin asks, were you disposing of weapons or bloody clothes? No
Were you driving fast? Alex said he was driving the way he normally drives.
Back at Moselle, Alex said he went through main gate to the house and went straight inside. Alex said lights were on at the house, he doesn’t believe the floodlights were on. He says he stayed inside several minutes (based on records). He was not surprised Paul and Maggie weren’t back, not shocked but thought they might be there. He remembers going into the gun room where Maggie would go so she could lower the thermostat and watch TV. She wasn’t there, so Alex said he checked the shower. He doesn’t remember but he may have tried calling them.
Alex said he drove to the kennels in the Suburban and “saw what y’all have seen pictures of… it was so bad.” (Alex asks for water) Alex said he saw Paul and Magige on the ground when he drove up. He thinks he jumped out of his car and then ran back to the car and called 911. He said he was on the phone and trying to tend to Paul and Maggie, moving back and forth between them. He was moving between them while on the 911 call.
Griffin asks Alex what he did with Paul… Alex said Paul was so bad. At some point he tried to check him for a pulse, tried to turn Paul over.
Why try to turn him over? I don’t know. I My boy was lying face down, I could see his brain on the sidewalk and grabbed a belt loop and tried to turn him over and his phone popped out of his pocket and he put it back. The phone popped out and was right beside him and Alex put it back on him.
Alex said he was on the side away from where his car was when checking Paul.
Alex couldn’t tell him how Paul’s phone was oriented and doesn’t remember seeing messages on the phone.
Alex then went to Maggie and touched her, he doesn’t remember where he touched her, probably around her waist, “it was so bad.”
Alex said he knows he went back and forth between them.
Griffin plays Colleton County 911 call, the long version.
Alex said, “I’d been up to it, and it is bad,” referring to the scene. He remembers getting out of the car and he knew. He got out of the car and doesn’t think he went all the way to them and went back to the car and made the call. “Oh no, hell no” they aren’t breathing, his wife and son at the kennels. Alex tells the operator about Paul, he’s shot really bad. I don’t know where he was shot there’s brains, he was shot in the head. No one in the area, no guns visible, they didn’t shoot themselves.
If you listen to the call, Alex says, one of the first things the operator asks him is if they shot themselves and another question about that and Alex says “here” and “if that’s what you’re asking me.” No dogs were out, and no one was there. The dogs were in the kennels.
Alex said he didn’t do anything at the kennels, other than trying to find a flashlight or a gun. There was no one with him.
On the call, Alex said he was gone and just came back and asks the operator to please hurry. He says, “he should have known.” Alex testifies he was referring to threats to Paul he says he didn’t take seriously. He says Paul was receiving “the most vile threats on social media, you couldn’t believe it, it was so over the top you couldn’t believe it.”
Also on the call, Alex said he last talked to Maggie about an hour and a half to two hours ago. Alex said on the stand the last time he saw Maggie and Paul was after he took the chicken from Bubba, around 8:49 p.m. (according to time stamp on Paul’s video).
On the call, Alex tells the operator neither Paul or Maggie were moving, and he was going to the house to get a gun... just in case… and he was about 100 yards from the house. He said he got a gun off the pool table, the first one he saw, and grabbed some shells. Alex said he knew the gun was loaded and put a 16-gauge shell in the gun, not realizing what he was doing. He said on the stand, he doesn’t know why he went to get a gun, maybe he thought someone was still out there.
Alex said he was wrong about his position when he relayed it to the operator; he was further than 100 yards away from the kennels.
Continuing on the 911 call, the operator told Alex to not have a gun on him when law enforcement arrives. Alex is heard telling the operator Paul has been getting threats and it’s been building for months. He doesn’t know who has been threatening Paul. He tells the operator he is headed back to the kennels.
The next part of the call… Alex asks if law enforcement is close and operator say there are -- multiple vehicles are headed to his location. Alex is asked to put on the flashers on this vehicle so responders can see him and don’t touch Paul and Maggie. Alex said he already touched them to see if they were breathing.
On the stand, Alex said he did touch Paul and Maggie. He touched Maggie several times and didn’t touch Paul but twice. He touched them before getting in the car and driving to the house.
Back on the call, operator says don’t touch anything else. Operator asks if Paul had made reports of the threats.
On the stand, Alex said he didn’t believe there was a formal police report, but it was well known. He doesn’t believe Paul ever made an official police report. He believes Paul was asked to meet with dean of students at USC and the meeting was really just making sure Paul was OK and to let Paul know the school was aware of some type of threats.
On the call, Alex tells the operator he needs to call some of his family and is asked by the operator to put the gun in the vehicle.
Alex said he called Randy and John Marvin and tried to call Rogan Gibson.
Griffin asks why try to call Rogan? Alex said Rogan’s house was two or three miles away and was like family and Alex wanted someone out there with him. He says he didn’t see Rogan’s name on Paul’s phone that night. He tried several times to call Rogan.
The timeline shows you opened a group text from Michael Gunn? I can promise you I wasn’t reading text messages
Also, an entry at 10:40 of a search of a restaurant at Edisto? Alex responds, he assumes it was in his search history and he hit it when he was trying to call other people
The videographer? He wasn’t calling him. He saw it on the call log. It was unintentional. Alex said he was not doing a google search and certainly not reading group messages on June 7.
Griffin asks Alex if he remembers getting blood on him on June 7. Alex sad he remembers blood on his fingertips. “There was so much blood.”
There was blood on the steering wheel that was ID’ed as Maggie’s? If it was fresh, it was from me. If not, Maggie drove my car and may have transferred it.
There was blood on the gun? If it was fresh, it was from me
Griffin asks Alex if a GSR test was done on his hands? Yes
There was GSR on your shirt? I handled the gun until I put it against my car when police arrived
Was Paul meticulous about cleaning his guns? No. When he cleaned his guns, he was meticulous but he wasn’t regular.
There is blood on the shirt? I don’t remember. There is no way I had high velocity blood spatter on me. I was no where near Paul or Maggie when they got shot.
After SLED collected his clothing that night, what did Alex change into? Alex doesn’t remember, he understands from previous testimony it was shorts and a t-shirt
After leaving Moselle, Alex said he went to Almeda and stayed there – Buster, Brookland and Alex rode together and John Marvin stayed there.
The next morning? Got up and went to Moselle, doesn’t remember what time
During that time, is it hard to remember? Alex said it’s definitely hard to remember, looking at the timelines helps him remember but off the top of his head, he says it’s hard to remember.
He does remember taking a shower at Moselle on June 8. Maggie’s mom and dad were coming.
On June 8, Alex knew SLED was searching the house, but he doesn’t remember going into the gun room. Alex said he and the family made the house available to them (SLED agents) and told SLED they could do anything with anything on the property, whatever they wanted they were welcome to.
Griffin asks Alex did he give consent to get location data from General Motors? Alex said he told David Owen it was important for them to get the OnStar data and knew his phone and Maggie’s phone never crossed paths and he knew it was important data to get.
Alex said he knew Maggie’s password, she knew his. Alex gave law enforcement the password to Maggie’s phone. Alex said he knew Maggie used Find My Friends app and used it to link to Alex, Buster, Paul, and other family members and she loved to know where people were and to surprise people with location-specific texts.
Alex knew there would be GPS data on Maggie’s phone.
Why was it important to Alex to get data from the Suburban and phones? Alex said it was because he was the one who found the bodies, he knew he was a suspect. The data would show he didn’t commit the murders.
The information from the Suburban was finally obtained when? Friday or the Friday before.
GPS was not found on Maggie’s phone. Everything before June 9 was erased, according to testimony.
On June 8, were there a lot of people who came to support you? Yes sir. Maggie’s parents were there.
From June 8, when friends and family were there, were you left alone? No Alex says he was attached to Buster at the hip.
On June 10, Alex’s father dies. Alex said he stayed with Buster every night June 8-13; June 7 at Almeda; June 8 through Sunday was staying at Greenfield at John Marvin’s place along with other family members. Paul and Maggie’s service was Saturday and his father’s service was Sunday. The following week, on Monday, June 14, Alex went to Summerville and Buster was there and stayed with Maggie’s parents and went to Greenville/Lake Keowee on Wednesday. Alex has a niece in Greenville – she was due to deliver a baby, Alex said Maggie was proud and excited about the baby. The baby became a big deal to Alex and was the reason for the visit. Alex went to Lake Keowee and stayed.
June 16, Alex was in Summerville and says he doesn’t remember going to Almeda at 6:30 a.m. (the time Shelly Smith testified to). He says he never went to Almeda early in the morning while he was in Summerville.
Alex said he didn’t take a blue tarp to Almeda, never saw a blue raincoat. He doesn’t remember taking a blue tarp and he said it certainly wasn’t around his dad’s funeral or the weeks following.
Griffin plays a portion of the August 11 interview with SLED… at 5:52 into the interview. Alex was asked who was at Moselle when he left and when did he leave. Alex responds probably around 8:30, 9, 10 at the latest.
Is that true? Alex said no, it was closer to noon. He said he told SLED on the interview, the best way to check the time was to check his electronic key card at the firm.
He is asked on the tape, when did he get to Moselle? Probably around 5.
Alex said he doesn’t remember when he was at Almeda but told Shelly Smith that SLED was coming to talk to her and he would appreciate it if she would tell them the truth.
After the boat wreck there was social media and newspapers and so much talk about how Alex influenced witnesses and fixed things with law enforcement that were untrue, so Alex said he wasn’t taking any chances. He said he tried to stay away from anyone he thought SLED might want to interview in the murder case.
Griffin asks again about the August 11 interview with SLED Agent Owen… had Alex requested the interview? Alex said he had been begging Owen for weeks and weeks for updates and for Owen to meet with Maggie’s parents.
Alex thought the meeting was to get updates.
Griffin asks Alex by the conclusion of the meeting did he think he was a suspect? Absolutely. No question in his mind what was going on.
Alex is shown an image from the snapchat video of the tree and asked about his clothing? He is wearing Khaki pants and a blue short-sleeve button down dress shirt
SLED asked when you changed clothes? Yes
Griffin asks Alex, did he have a meeting with Blanca about what he was wearing? Yes. Alex asked Blanca about the clothes he had on that day. Specifically, did she remember getting his clothes. Alex was asking about the clothes because the August 11 interview made a point about those clothes. SLED never asked for those clothes before, as far as Alex’s understanding. He said he was well aware his clothes he had on during the day were not an issue until his lawyers found out SLED found no blood on his clothes he was wearing that night.
Griffin asks where he stayed after June 7. Alex said he never stayed another night at Moselle because he couldn’t, didn’t want to. He says after Greenville, he stayed in Summerville as much as he could and with his brothers Randy and John Marvin, and he and Buster stayed at Edisto a bit. Buster was working and had some time off and would stay with John in Hampton. He stayed at small house at law partner Johnny Parker’s property. Alex said he had clothes everywhere he stayed, spread out.
Griffin begins after lunch break with Alex’s meeting with Jeanne Seckinger on June 7. Alex said Jeanne was following up on the Ferris fee check and he said he understood. Alex said the money came to him directly and it shouldn’t have. He doesn’t remember what he told Jeanne, but the funds were in Chris Wilson’s account and there was nothing to worry about. On June 7, Alex said there was some level of concern because Jeanne was asking him about money he wasn’t supposed to have.
Alex said Chris Wilson called him after getting an email asking about the fee check. Alex said he wasn’t concerned about Wilson opening up his trust account to PMPED’s accounting. Alex said he trusted Wilson. He told the court Wilson had told him that Wilson and his partner had broken up the practice and the wife of the partner was trying to get the same financial records and Alex knew Wilson wasn’t going to send financial documents to PMPED anytime soon. Alex said in his mind, there was no urgency on this issue on June 7.
During the meeting with Jeanne, Alex said he had a text that his father was going back into the hospital that day and didn’t know if it was because of cancer or something else. Alex doesn’t remember if he told Jeanne his father was terminal at that time. The very next day, June 8, Alex said they learned his father was terminal.
Griffin asks Alex on June 7, did he think his financial house of cards was tumbling down? Absolutely not.
Alex had reached out to Russell Laffitte about money on Moselle. Alex said there was equity on Moselle… it was fully in Maggie’s name. He said there was $1.6M owed on the property appraised at $3.5M, without timber factored in.
There was equity in the Edisto Beach house, about $250K owed and it was valued about $700-something-thousand.
Griffin asks, did Maggie’s death make it difficult for financing? Alex explains that Moselle was 100% in Maggie’s name, Edisto was 50%. Maggie never questioned him about signing papers for loans, but he couldn’t do that after the murder.
Griffin asks, in the boating lawsuit, there was a hearing scheduled in June? For June 10, according to testimony. Alex said his level of concern was about the venue motion that was coming up. Alex wanted the case to stay in Hampton County, Parkers wanted it moved. He said he had lawyers doing the legal work and wasn’t concerned and that he had done the work for the financial statement.
Alex said he wasn’t concerned about his finances being exposed. The partners at PMPED are the best in the state and he wasn’t concerned about turning over information Tinsley was looking for. He said he reached out to Jeanne for information about his 401K plan for the financial statement. Alex said he prepared a handwritten document to be used in court -- that is the document Mark Ball said he found.
Did you steal funds form the law firm? I did
How did he get in such a financial predicament? Not sure how he got where he got. Battled addiction for oxycodone for so many years, paid for the pills. Not sure when he became addicted. Hurt his knee playing football in college, surgery didn’t work so in a couple of years after that developed knee pains, Last surgery was around 2004 and was taking hydrocodone before that and became addicted. Took that for a time then moved to oxycodone around 2008 or 2009. He said it just escalated. He went to detox several times – three times at a facility, first time at Sunrise detox facility in Atlanta, in December 2017. He tried to detox at home.
After December 2017 stay, Alex said he relapsed
Alex says he has been opioid free for 535 days.
Alex said he was confronted by PMPED about his financial misdeeds on Labor Day weekend and he had admitted to the fake Forge account. He said he told the partners and family about his addiction. He believes no one knew about the addiction and he was still successful in the courtroom. Alex was forced to resign or be fired on September 4.
Also on Sept. 4, Alex says he met with Chris Wilson about his addiction and gave Wilson some idea about his financial misconduct. He said he had already spoken to the guy he knew at Sunrise and made arrangements to go into the facility on Monday. Alex said he reached out to Blanca for his insurance information to pay for the detox facility. Alex said he wanted to meet with Corey Fleming but did not. Instead, Alex said he gave his pills to Randy and had gotten a small amount back the night before and “knew it was coming” and called someone to bring him more pills before he met with Wilson. He says he doesn’t remember getting the pills after meeting with Wilson and asked the pill guy (Eddie Smith) to shoot him instead. He said it was his intention to have Eddie Smith shoot him, so he’d be gone.
Smith shot Alex in Hampton County on Salkehatchie Road. Alex said he wanted to be gone and knew how humiliating it would be for his son. He said he had been through so much at the time and, in the bad place he was at the time, he thought it was the best thing to do.
Maggie was the beneficiary on his $12M life insurance policy. Alex said he never had life insurance on Maggie or Paul.
Alex is asked about his relationship with Maggie. Addressing the jury, he says “Y’all say her picture, she was as beautiful inside as she was outside.” He said she was adventurous, devoted to the boys and to him, fun, playful, never made Alex or the boys want for anything. She was such a lady, a feminine person, a girl, then she had two boys. She became a boys’ mom, riding four-wheelers and such. She threw herself into the boys’ lives. She may have never worked but she worked for the boys. She wanted a big family, but her pregnancies didn’t suit her, made her sick so she and Alex decided to just have the two boys. She was the kind of person who could put on an elegant gown and hang out with influential people or go to a food bank in Hampton and fit in. She was a special person.
Alex said he would never hurt Maggie. Ever.
Alex is asked about his relationship with Paul (Pau-Pau). He was an inquisitive person, even when a child. He was a man’s man, 100% country boy, tough, could hunt anything, catch any fish, run any equipment, use any tool. On the other hand, he had a side to him that was very sweet. He would go out of the way to check on his grandparents, get on a boat with friends to watch a sunset. Fiercely loyal, so misrepresented in the media. Alex challenges anyone in the room to find someone who knew Paul to have them say anything negative about him. He might not have found his place yet – he was ADHD — he would have found what he was going to do and be the best at it. Alex sad he didn’t know this when Paul was alive, but when the eulogy was happening, a cute girl – Julianne – Paul would tell his friends to be present and appreciate things around you. Alex loved Paul like no other. Loved Maggie.
He did not kill Paul, did not kill Maggie. Would not hurt them for any reason.
CROSS EXAMINATION by Creighton Waters
Waters asks Alex about things they can agree on – that an important part of Alex’s testimony is in all of the interviews he’s had with SLED, the first time Alex has admitted to lying about being at the kennels is today. Alex says he can agree with that.
You were stealing from clients and stealing from law firm? Alex can agree with that.
Since around 2010? Alex will agree with that.
Waters wants to talk first about the Murdaugh family legacy… Alex’s great grandfather was solicitor – Randolph was solicitor for 20 years until he got killed; grandfather “Buster” was solicitor for 46 years.. Alex said he idolized him; his father Randolph became solicitor after that, when Buster retired, and remained in office until 2006. Alex said his father was a good man and a fine lawyer. Alex agrees his family has been a central part of the legal community since 1920 until 2020.
Alex was never a full-time solicitor. Waters goes over Alex’s work history and says Alex was a successful trial lawyer. He won cases, settled cases. Former partners said he was a successful lawyer and pointed out Alex became president of the South Carolina Trial Lawyers’ Association in 2015.
Alex said he tried all kinds of cases – big cases, a lot of cases where cable companies charging too much, all types. The big cases were plaintiff work where there were automobile wrecks that could lead to big recoveries.
Waters asks if part of the process of taking a case to court included getting information about the cases, gathering telemetry? Alex said he never had a case like this one but has dealt with data from OnStar and black box event recorders before. He says he’s had cases where cell phone data and computer data were important to the cases.
Alex started practicing law in 1998 until Sept. 2021. Waters asks him does Alex think people viewed him as successful and his family as prominent in the community? Yes, some people probably did.
And his family had a long association with law enforcement? Yes.
The associations with law enforcement were friendships and professional. Did Alex have those same associations in civil cases? Yes, we dealt with a lot of law enforcement in civil cases.
Alex was a volunteer assistant solicitor – when he moved from Beaufort to Hampton, around 2008. His father gave him his solicitor’s badge.
Waters asks if there were any parties where law enforcement was invited? The law firm didn’t sponsor parties but there may have been events where law enforcement was invited.
Alex said he assisted his father when his father was a solicitor -- between 1998-2021, Alex said he was in five jury trials with his father and had a solicitor’s badge. When his granddad passed away, Alex got that badge from his father.
Alex said he didn’t gather evidence in the cases where he assisted his father, but he assembled evidence for court and did a closing argument in one case. Alex said he probably took a plea at least one time and doesn’t remember working a case that didn’t go to trial.
Waters asks of there are differences and similarities in civil and criminal cases? Yes
Assembling evidence and presenting for trial is a bit part? Yes
Analyzing evidence and data to determine what to put in evidence to support your case -- that is an ongoing process? Yes, but in a civil case evidence gathering has a deadline.
Waters asked Alex if he had talked to the jury about the OnStar data in his earlier testimony but is now saying he doesn’t know anything about it? Alex said “y’all are representing that” and the OnStar and telemetry data are different. Alex says the OnStar data tells you one set of information, and the telemetry data tells another set of data.
Alex is asked if the data was consistent with each other. Alex responds he doesn’t think they contradict each other.
Alex testified he considered himself the primary breadwinner for the family. he said he was the sole source of income for Maggie, Buster and Paul. Buster had a job, but Alex considered himself the provider.
Alex is asked to identify two items – they are Alex’s and his grandfather’s solicitor’s badges.
The grandfather’s badge was recovered from the Mercedes on September 4.
Alex kept his badge in his car, in the front sheet or in the dash or console. He said there was no particular reason for putting the badge anywhere in the car.
Waters asked if he were to put the badge on the dash, did Alex put it there if he wanted someone to see it or in the cupholder for an officer to see it if he got pulled over? Alex said he found law enforcement was friendlier if they saw you were in law enforcement
You consider yourself to be in law enforcement? No
But you put the badge in view of officers when you got pulled over? In some circumstances, that is accurate.
To get better treatment if you got pulled over? I’d say that’s true.
Did you have to take an oath to get the badge? Alex doesn’t recall taking an oath. He said it was a very informal process when he took the job with his dad and continued later with a recent solicitor.
Waters continues with this question – there is an ID card with Alex’s photograph on it. This has your name on it? Yes.
On the card, it reads “The State of SC Solicitor of 14th Circuit Court” and there is an oath on back of the card. The card says Alex is a deputy solicitor, dating from in 2013, signed by Solicitor Duffy Stone. Alex said he was only a volunteer and was never a deputy solicitor, no matter what the card says.
Waters asks Alex if he ever had lights installed in his vehicle? Yes. He had blue lights in his vehicle… a law firm owned vehicle that Alex had lights installed by Eddie Gibson sometime around December 2015.
Waters asks if Alex asked the sheriff if he could do that? He said he asked Allendale and Colleton County sheriffs and it was okayed.
Alex is asked to identify a document… a photograph of his Suburban with the badge in the dash, face up, on June 7. Alex doesn’t dispute it is a photo of his vehicle.
About the boat case – Alex said there are two cases: the civil case and “the case that y’all brought charges against PauPau (Paul).”
Waters asks Alex: in all of the recorded statements so far in this case, is this the first time you called Paul PauPau and Rogan RoRo? Alex doesn’t recall
Did Alex have his badge on the night of the boat wreck when he went to the hospital? Alex doesn’t recall
Was Alex acting in any official capacity the night of the boat wreck? Alex says no
Alex is asked to identify a person in a photograph that was taken inside the hospital the night of the boat wreck. Alex says he is in the photo and that he sees his solicitor’s badge hanging out of his pocket. He doesn’t remember why he had the badge or why it would be hanging out of the pocket. He admits he may have wanted an advantage, if there was an advantage, he would guess the badge had a warming effect with other law enforcement.
Waters asks Alex if he ever want to be solicitor? Alex said there was a time he absolutely did. Around the time his father retired in 2006. Alex said he wanted to be solicitor for a long time but when his dad retired, he was already struggling with pills and knew he couldn’t do the job.
You were struggling but still maintained a lucrative law practice over the years? Alex said none of the partners knew of his addiction
Alex said he didn’t remember having the badge, he does remember talking to the kids involved in the accident that night but doesn’t remember having the badge. No memory, whatsoever.
Alex said he used the badge as a wallet but probably not using as a wallet that night.
Waters asked Alex if he had to make a conscious decision to pick up the badge that night? Yes
Doesn’t he then think it was a conscious decision to hang the badge out of his pocket? Alex doesn’t remember if he put the badge hanging out of the pocket or if he carried it in the pocket. He said he couldn’t say if he did hang the badge out of his pocket on purpose. He does specifically remember he did not pull out the badge.
Waters asks, did you use the badge to get into areas normally not available to the general public? No. Alex said he went to Paul and then Morgan -- who had an injury to her hand -- then to Paul and to Connor’s room but he was not certain.
Waters asks, did you tell kids not to cooperate with law enforcement? Alex said he never told anyone to do that.
Waters asks if Alex was aware that in March 2021, an investigation into that night and Alex’s conduct on that night had begun? Yes, Alex became aware. Doesn’t know the status of that investigation. It was before June 7 when Alex said he knew about the investigation.
Do you know how Andy Strickland lost his job as sheriff? Alex doesn’t recall
Was it months prior to becoming aware of the investigation into your conduct? Alex said he believed Andy was charged in the fall and he learned about the investigation about corruption.
Strickland was a friend, the guy who let him put lights in the car? Yes
Prior to the murders, there was an investigation into the boat case? An investigation into his actions in the hospital the night of the wreck? Alex said yes
You had an addiction for 20 years? Yes
How long did it take before you started stealing form clients? Alex doesn’t recall. He said he’s been in rehab and in jail and his phone calls have been in the media so he can’t recall the first time he did it.
The addiction was a cause of the theft? It was a cause
Waters asks Alex if he had real estate problems and then worked on some big cases that partners thought cleared the real estate troubles? Alex said that’s maybe what they thought
Is it true you were past your financial difficulties? No, he wasn’t past them
Alex can’t recall what the first big case was during that time.
Waters asks was it the Pinkney case in 2011? Alex can’t remember off the top of his head but has no reason to dispute that.
Alex identifies a list of documents containing settlement information on a few of Alex’s cases --- Natasha Thompson, an underage girl injured in a car wreck for alleged tire issues in 2011. Supposed to get $2M and Alex’s recovery in fees would have been $800K. The $800K was in addition to money stolen from the teenager. Alex said the normal process would to be sit down with the client and go over the papers and explain what was going on. He took over $300K
Waters asks, did you look them in the eye when you’re doing it? Probably.
Alex candidly admits he took money and is embarrassed and doesn’t dispute doing it. He admits he mislead clients and stole from them and is wrong for doing it. He said he’s been charged for murder and sitting in the court listening to the financial information and cannot remember details.
Alex said he mislead them but maybe didn’t sit down in every instance with a client – it may be some of the clients trusted him to do it.
Waters mentions one case for example: In the Arthur Badger case, there was a $12M recovery for multiple plaintiffs. UPS was the major defendant in the case. He asks Alex how were recoveries allocated? Did Alex sit down with Arthur Badger and tell him it everything was fine, tell him he would receive $300K when Alex got millions? Alex said he sat down with Badger and at some point looked him in the eye while he took over $3M.
Pamela Pinckney was injured in the same accident as Thompson. Her total recovery was supposed to be over $10M, but attorney fees were over $4M to PMPED in Alex’s name.
Alex said he took money – over $300K -- from the quadriplegic in addition to the $4M that went to the firm.
In 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Alex was asked if he had land deals causing problems and those issues had something to do with Alex stealing while living a lavish lifestyle? Alex said he wouldn’t consider his lifestyle as lavish. He was making about $1M a year.
Alex doesn’t know what Waters means by wealthy lifestyle. Alex admits he was living on money he didn’t have, and the stolen money wasn’t all going to a pill habit. Alex still doesn’t call it “lavish.” He doesn’t remember the land deals, doesn’t dispute it but says he hasn’t seen the records.
Any of the money didn’t all go to paying for pills and Alex conceded he was stealing money.
Alex is asked about two underage girls who suffered a loss – their mother died – in an accident in 2011. Alex remembers a good settlement, a significant settlement, but doesn’t remember amount. A conservatorship was set up for the girls, Alex doesn’t remember if it was because of the girls’ age. The father was the personal representative and an undesirable witness and testimony he had hit his wife and didn’t want him to be the conservator. Russell Laffitte was deemed conservator and Alex was loaned money from the account.
Alex doesn’t believe he “made” Russell loan him the money from the account, $750K.
Waters states there are emails documenting the requests. Alex doesn’t remember telling the girls he was borrowing from the account and doesn’t remember telling Russell to tell them or let Russell borrow from the account. Again, Alex doesn’t dispute he stole money from his clients and from his law firm.
He stole $1.3M in the Badger/UPS case, above the $1.2M in fees Alex earned.
Did Alex talk to Laffitte about structuring the stolen $1.3M and applying it to the girls’ account? Alex freely admits he did this and took people’s money and Russell Laffitte was not involved. Alex doesn’t dispute anything in the emails and messages with Russell Laffitte but doesn’t remember details.
He doesn’t believe stealing Badger money had any relationship to paying back a loan in the girls’ conservatorship before the girls’ turned 18 years of age. That’s not the way Alex remembers it. If the records say he took a $1M loan from the conservatorship, he will concede that, but he doesn’t remember.
How many times did Alex practice that answer for today’s testimony? Alex said didn’t, but Waters keeps asking these same questions.
Alex said he became very close with Deon Martin and his parents. He met with his parents, still thinks the world of Deon.
Waters said there was a $2M recovery in Martin’s case. Alex believes it was less and he just said it was $2M on the paperwork.
So, you falsified the paperwork? Yes sir
There was a $500K in a structured annuity to Michael Gunn. Why did Alex do the structure? Alex said he was stealing the money, the $500K.
Were you inflating the fees? Alex admitted he was inflating the fees and must have had the $500K check made to Forge to steal the money from Deon Martin. Alex said he certainly stole money from Deon, lied to Deon, but doesn’t remember the details.
Waters asked Alex if he can remember one instance where you’re looking someone in the eye and telling them there was nothing amiss while stealing their money? Alex says there are a lot of instances where that happened.
Waters asks Alex if he can recall a single time? Alex recalls lying to clients of his, he’s sure he looked them in the eye, he’s sure he stole from them, but he cannot recall specific details. He says the saddest part is there are people he still cares about that he hurt. People Alex says he thinks highly of. He admits he did damage and wreaked a lot of havoc.
Alex identifies Elise Mallory’s case where Alex stole her money. The underlying case involved a daughter in a wreck who died. Waters asks Alex if he stole all of the money in this case. Alex said yes.
Waters asks Alex to tell the court the conversation he had with Mallory when he stole the money. Alex doesn’t remember a conversation he had with Mallory but doesn’t dispute stealing the money.
Waters asks if Alex can recall just one conversation that he had with a client where he looked them in the eye and as he stole from them? Alex said there were plenty of times, but there was no sit down with Mallory.
Judge Newman stops him there and calls a recess for the day.
After the jury is out of the courtroom, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian asks if he may present two witnesses Friday morning before the prosecution continues the cross examination of Alex. Judge Newman said he will not interrupt the prosecution’s cross examination.
Testimony resumes at:30 a.m. on Friday.
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