Alex Murdaugh, 54, the as soon as highly effective scion of a South Carolina authorized dynasty, is on trial for the slayings of his spouse and son.
Prosecutors say Alex gunned down 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and their troubled 22-year-old son, Paul, on June 7, 2021.
The Murdaughs, a outstanding Democratic household, wielded monumental judicial and political energy for almost a century.
However the household’s dominance started to wane after Paul was criminally charged for a lethal 2019 boat wreck that triggered a collection of lawsuits and threatened to show his father’s monetary schemes.
The accident set in movement a spiral of destruction that has stained the household’s legacy.
January 2006 — Randolph Murdaugh III steps down as prosecutor
His departure from workplace marked the top of the Democratic household’s 87-year reign as the highest prosecutor overseeing 5 counties.
The 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Workplace is the chief prosecuting company for Colleton, Hampton, Allendale, Beaufort and Jasper counties.
Randolph remained an worker within the solicitor’s workplace, and Alex joined him as a volunteer prosecutor whereas remaining a associate on the as soon as prestigious private damage regulation agency Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick.
It was based in 1910 by Randolph Murdaugh – the primary member of the household to be elected solicitor in 1920.
The agency modified its identify to the Parker Legislation Group after Alex’s authorized and felony entanglements destroyed the Murdaugh identify.
Alex’s brother, Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV, stays a associate.
July 8, 2015 — Demise of Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith, a former highschool classmate of Alex’s eldest son, Buster Murdaugh, was discovered useless in the midst of a rustic highway in Hampton, South Carolina. The 19-year-old’s automotive was three miles away and out of fuel.
An post-mortem concluded that Smith died from blunt pressure trauma attributable to a hit-and-run — however his mom, Sandy Smith, believes he was murdered.
Freeway Patrol investigators disagreed with the post-mortem’s dedication and pursued a number of leads — together with rumors that Buster was having a secret affair with Smith, and the Murdaugh household could have been behind the killing. However the case stays unsolved.
SLED (South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division) introduced in 2021 a contemporary probe into Smith’s mysterious demise primarily based on proof gathered in the course of the investigation into Maggie and Paul’s murders.
The company didn’t elaborate on the character of the proof that led to their choice to reopen the case.
Feb. 26, 2018 — Demise of the Murdaugh household’s housekeeper
The household’s longtime nanny and housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died after falling down a set of stairs on the Moselle house.
Practically 10 months later, her household filed a wrongful loss of life declare on the urging of Alex. An lawyer representing Satterfield’s sons later discovered that insurance coverage insurance policies had paid out greater than $4 million, which Alex and his cronies had allegedly pocketed.
In October 2021, Alex was arrested at a Florida drug rehab middle and charged with embezzling thousands and thousands from her sons. He has remained in jail since.
He agreed to pay again the stolen $4.3 million in a confession of judgment. SLED later introduced an investigation into Satterfield’s loss of life and plans to exhume her physique.
Feb. 24, 2019 — Lethal boat crash
A turning level for the Murdaugh household got here in February 2019 when Paul, then 19, drunkenly crashed his father’s boat into the Archer’s Creek Bridge in Beaufort, killing Mallory Seashore, 19, and injuring 4 different associates.
Paul had a blood alcohol stage thrice the authorized restrict.
Earlier than the collision, his associates stated he had morphed into his drunk alter ego “Timmy,” turning into belligerent, stripping off his garments and slapping his girlfriend.
Seashore’s property and different passengers filed wrongful loss of life lawsuits naming Alex, Maggie, Buster and the comfort retailer chain that offered Paul, then underage, alcohol utilizing his brother’s ID.
Two months later, Paul was indicted on one rely of sailing underneath the affect inflicting loss of life and two counts of sailing underneath the affect and inflicting nice bodily hurt.
He was murdered earlier than the case went to trial.
June 7, 2021 — The double homicide
Alex, hysterical and sobbing, referred to as 911 shortly after 10 p.m. to report that he discovered Paul and Maggie shot to loss of life close to the canine kennels on the household’s sprawling 1,700 acres looking property in Islandton, South Carolina.
“I want the police and an ambulance instantly,” he instructed the dispatcher. “My spouse and little one have been shot badly.” The primary spherical struck Paul’s chest, the second entered his left shoulder, touring into his neck and mind, which was severed from his physique.
Maggie was mendacity facedown within the mud about 30 ft away. She had been shot with a rifle no less than 4 instances — as soon as execution-style at the back of the pinnacle.
The property at 4147 Moselle Street straddles Colleton and Hampton counties and served as Alex’s main residence.
In Alex’s first assertion to a deputy on the scene, he steered that the boat crash litigation was behind the grisly killings.
“It is a lengthy story. My son was in a ship wreck. He’s been getting threats,” Alex could be heard saying in physique digital camera footage to Sgt. Daniel Greene. “I do know that’s what it’s.”
SLED instantly took over the investigation.
Sept. 4, 2021 — Alex claims he’s ambushed, shot within the head
Alex referred to as 911 and reported that he was shot within the head whereas altering a tire on Outdated Salkehatchie Street by a gunman in a passing truck — not removed from the Moselle crime scene.
Quickly after, Alex issued statements saying that was leaving the household apply and getting into rehab for a longstanding opioid habit.
Alex was really pushed out of the regulation agency the day earlier than the taking pictures after he was accused of stealing thousands and thousands from the agency and purchasers’ settlements.
Jim Griffin, Alex’s lawyer, stated his shopper sustained a cranium fracture and hemorrhaging from the taking pictures, however SLED described the wound as “superficial.”
Alex quickly admitted that he employed former shopper Curtis Edward Smith, generally known as “Cousin Eddie,” to kill him so his surviving son, Buster, may acquire a $10 million life insurance coverage coverage.
He and Smith had been indicted on fraud and conspiracy fees for the murder-suicide scheme.
In June 2022, he and Smith had been hit with new felony fees — together with one for the distribution and buy of the narcotic oxycodone.
The South Carolina Supreme Court docket yanked Alex’s regulation license over his “egregious moral misconduct” – a call he didn’t contest.
July to December 2022 — Alex charged together with his spouse and son’s homicide and different crimes
On July 14, Alex was indicted on two counts of homicide for the slayings of Paul and Maggie. He pleaded not responsible and continued to have the help of his son, Buster, his sister, Lynne Murdaugh Goette, and his brothers, John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh.
South Carolina Legal professional Common Alan Wilson is prosecuting the case.
About six months after the homicide fees, a state grand jury indicted Alex on 9 counts of tax evasion for failing to report $6,954,639 of illegally earned earnings between 2011 and 2019, for which he owes $486,819 in taxes.
The most recent counts are modest additions to the 90 state monetary crimes fees he already confronted spanning 18 indictments for schemes to defraud victims of $9,789.447.
Jan. 23, 2022 — Alex’s homicide trial begins
It took two days to pick out a jury of eight ladies and 4 males for the homicide trial within the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.
Decide Clifton Newman is presiding over what has been referred to as probably the most anticipated trial within the state’s historical past.
A portrait of Alex’s late grandfather, 14th Circuit Solicitor Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., was faraway from the courtroom for the continuing.
On Jan. 25, prosecutor Creighton Waters gave his opening assertion and revealed publicly for the primary time that investigators recovered a blue raincoat coated with gun residue that Alex allegedly stashed at his mom’s house one week after the murders.
He poked holes in Alex’s alibi, telling jurors that there’s video putting him on the canine kennels three minutes earlier than the slayings.
“He instructed anybody who would hear he was by no means there,” Waters stated. “The proof will present he was there he was on the homicide scene.”
Dick Harpootlian, a Democratic state senator and a member of Alex’s protection workforce, targeted on the victims’ surprising accidents.
He argued in his opening statements that it was unthinkable a father who had an exquisite and loving relationship together with his son may perpetrate such a heinous crime.
“The gases from that shot actually exploded his head like a watermelon hit by a sledgehammer,” Harpootlian stated of Paul’s accidents. “All that was left was the entrance of his face. All the things else was gone. His mind exploded out of his head, hit the ceiling within the shed and dropped to his ft. Horrendous. Horrible. Butchering.”
Harpootlian accused SLED of zeroing in on Alex from day one “pounding that sq. peg within the spherical gap” as an alternative of seek for the true killer.
Week 1 trial revelations – Alex was ‘clear’
Jurors heard ugly testimony and noticed photographs of the accidents that Maggie and Paul sustained after the taking pictures. They had been each discovered mendacity in swimming pools of blood, mind matter and tissue.
A string of first responders testified that Alex had no seen blood on him after they arrived on the scene – though he instructed them he had touched their our bodies to test for pulses. He even admitted to making an attempt to roll Paul over and dealing with his son’s cellphone.
Alex was carrying a white T-shirt and shorts. Colleton County Det. Laura Rutland stated that Alex’s garments regarded “clear” and famous no blood on his footwear, palms or different physique elements.
In videotaped interviews with regulation enforcement, Alex repeated the identical timeline. He rode across the property with Paul then ate dinner with Paul and Maggie – and this was the final time he noticed them.
Maggie headed all the way down to the canine kennels 1 / 4 mile from the principle home, and Paul left with out saying the place he was going. Alex fell asleep for about 20 minutes whereas watching TV.
When Alex awoke, he tried to name and textual content Maggie, however she did not reply. A little bit after 9 p.m., he left to go to his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, at her house in Almeda about 20 minutes away.
When he returned to the principle home, he noticed it was empty and drove all the way down to the kennels to search for Maggie. A little bit after 10 p.m., he stated he stumbled on the horrific scene. He referred to as 911 at 10:07 p.m.
Gripped by worry, he stated he drove again to the principle home to retrieve a gun earlier than returning to the canine kennels to attend for first responders to reach.
Week 2 trial revelations – the canine kennel video putting Alex on the homicide scene
Jurors had been proven a videotaped interview of Alex on June 10 performed by SLED particular brokers Jeff Croft and David Owen.
At one level, Alex began sobbing hysterically and blurted out a garbled assertion. Waters paused the video to ask Croft what he stated.
“It is simply so unhealthy, I did him so unhealthy,” Croft answered. On cross-examination, the protection slowed down the audio from the interview and requested Croft whether or not he now heard “they” as an alternative of “I.”
The investigator maintained Alex stated “I” however a debate raged within the courtroom and on social media over which pronoun Alex used and whether or not he had inadvertently confessed.
In probably the most crucial piece of proof introduced by the prosecution to this point, jurors had been performed a video Paul recorded on his cellphone at 8:44 p.m. on the canine kennels – about three minutes earlier than prosecutors say he was murdered.
The footage reveals Paul making an attempt to get a transparent shot of the tail of his buddy Rogan Gibson’s black lab Money. Paul was involved Money had an issue together with his tail and instructed Gibson in a cellphone name a minute earlier he’d ship a video – however Gibson by no means bought it. Investigators later discovered it on Paul’s cellphone.
A person and girl, who prosecutors say are Alex and Maggie, could be heard within the background bantering a couple of canine with a hen in its mouth.
Gibson and one other of Paul’s associates, Will Loving, recognized the male voice as “100%” Alex.
Maggie and Paul’s units went darkish about three minutes later at 8:49 p.m. when Water says they had been murdered.
The video seems to contradict Alex’s declare he did not go to the canine kennels that night time till he discovered the our bodies of his slain spouse and son.
Week 2 trial revelations – the Snapchat video
About an hour earlier than the double homicide, Paul despatched a Snapchat video to his associates at 7:56 p.m.
Jurors had been performed the clip displaying Paul and his dad laughing as they checked out a poorly planted tree on the property.
Waters established that Alex is carrying a blue shirt and khaki pants within the video – not the white T-shirt and shorts he was carrying when first responders arrived on the scene.
The week of testimony wrapped up with a ballistics professional testifying that older shell casings discovered on the property had been cycled via the identical weapon because the shell casings discovered close to Maggie’s physique.
Prosecutors have argued that Maggie was killed with Paul’s .300 Blackout rifle which hasn’t been recovered.
Week 3 trial revelations – bomb menace results in evacuation
In probably the most dramatic second of the trial, the courthouse was evacuated after an individual referred to as in a bomb menace. The incident was a hoax and the continuing resumed within the afternoon.
Jurors heard intensive testimony about Alex’s alleged monetary crimes – together with the strain he was underneath over the wrongful loss of life lawsuit from the 2019 boat wreck.
In addition they heard that he allegedly stole thousands and thousands from his personal regulation agency, his purchasers and even his greatest buddy and was deeply in debt.
His mom’s caretaker, Shelley Smith, testified that Alex pressured her to inform anybody who requested that he had visited his mom’s house the night time of the murders for no less than 45 minutes. He had solely been there for 20.
The household’s housekeeper, took the stand and instructed jurors that Alex had additionally pressured her to say he’d been carrying a special shirt the day of the slayings.
Week 4 trial revelations – prosecution rests
Maggie’s older sister, Marian Proctor, was the primary member of the family to testify on the trial. She instructed jurors that her sister did not wish to go to Moselle the night time of the murders, however Alex summoned her and Paul there.
Proctor wept as she testified that she had pressured Maggie to go and help her husband, whose father, Randolph Murdaugh III, was admitted to the hospital earlier that day. Though Alex and Maggie’s marriage wasn’t good, they had been glad, Proctor added.
The ultimate prosecution witness, SLED particular agent Peter Rudolfski, introduced a complete timeline from the day of the murders – together with 4,820 GPS coordinates from Alex’s Chevrolet Suburban, cellphone information and different knowledge.
Prosecutors highlighted a perplexingly tight timeline. Alex arrived on the canine kennels at 10:05:57 p.m. and referred to as 911 lower than 20 seconds later at 10:06:14 p.m., in line with the information.
However Alex instructed the 911 dispatcher that he had already checked the pulses of Paul and Maggie whose our bodies had been discovered 30 ft aside.
Rudolfski additionally revealed that one month earlier than the killings, Paul confronted his father in a textual content message about his drug habit after Maggie discovered a bag of ache drugs in his pc bag.
“I’m very sorry that I do that to all of you. I really like you,” Alex texted his spouse the subsequent day. Maggie did not reply, in line with Rudolfski.
Prosecutors rested their case Feb. 17 after presenting 4 weeks of proof and calling 61 witnesses.
Week 5 – Murdaugh takes the stand in his personal protection
Murdaugh admitted Feb. 23 from the witness field that he lied to investigators, family and friends about being together with his spouse and son on the canine kennels at 8:45 p.m. lower than 5 minutes earlier than prosecutors say they had been murdered.
However the ex-Hampton lawyer vehemently denied killing his spouse and son. Murdaugh instructed jurors he lied as a result of he didn’t belief investigators and his opioid habit made him paranoid. He had a bag of medicine on him that night time.
As soon as he began mendacity, he needed to proceed the lie, he stated. “Oh, what a tangled net we weave,” he instructed jurors, quoting Nineteenth-century author Sir Walter Scott.
However aside from that lie, he stated he had been fully cooperative with investigators.
He pinned the slayings on the boat wreck suggesting that vigilantes who had learn in regards to the case on social media slaughtered his household.
Throughout a grueling cross-examination that spanned two days, Waters grilled an more and more fatigued Murdaugh on his inconsistent statements.
Waters identified that Murdaugh claimed he checked the pulses of Maggie and Paul earlier than calling 911, however GPS knowledge from his Chevrolet Suburban revealed that he made the decision 19 seconds after pulling as much as the scene.
Murdaugh once more revised his story and stated he checked their pulses whereas he was on the cellphone with 911.
“You, like you will have executed so many instances in your life, needed to again up and make a brand new story to suit with the info?” Waters requested.
“No, sir,” Murdaugh replied.
The protection referred to as 13 further witnesses as a part of their case– together with a ballistics professional who testified that the trajectory of the photographs that killed Maggie confirmed the killer was no taller than 5 foot 4.
A criminal offense scene analyst instructed jurors that the shot that killed Paul was a contact wound to the again of his head that may have left the shooter injured from flying pellets and lined in blood.
Week 6 – Summations
If convicted, Alex faces 30 years to life with out parole.
Audrey Conklin and Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.
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