True Crime Sundays: Alex Murdaugh trial: Murdaugh testifies he did not shoot wife, son, blames drug addiction for lies to police.

by Barnini Chakraborty

Alex Murdaugh, a once-wealthy and powerful South Carolina attorney on trial for allegedly shooting his wife and son, took the stand Thursday, testifying he had no part in the grisly double murder and blaming an addiction to painkillers for his erratic behavior in front of friends and law enforcement officials. 

“I did not shoot my wife or my son any time — ever,” he said of Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, who had been gunned down in June 2021. 

Murdaugh admitted he had lied several times to authorities about his whereabouts the night of the shootings.

“I lied about being down there, and I’m so sorry that I did,” he said, adding that he was overly “paranoid” and claimed attorneys from his family’s law firm urged him not to say a word without representation present. 

Murdaugh also apologized to his son Buster and other relatives for lying about the last time he saw Maggie and Paul and said once he started lying, he could not stop. 

“What a tangled web we weave,” he said. “Once I told a lie — then I told my family — I had to keep lying.”

Prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh, who belongs to a powerful family that has dominated the legal landscape for more than a century, killed his family members in a desperate attempt to hide his financial crimes, which they said included swindling clients out of millions of dollars.

The mother and son were killed on June 7, 2021, near the kennels on the family’s sprawling, 1,772-acre Colleton County hunting estate. They were found in a pool of their own blood, the latter dying from two shotgun blasts and Murdaugh’s wife being killed by multiple rifle shots.

Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty.

His team of attorneys has argued that Murdaugh had neither the motive, prowess, nor time to execute his wife and son. They have also pointed to videos shot on Paul Murdaugh’s cellphone that showed the family bonding.

The prosecution, which rested its case on Friday, also pointed to footage found on Paul Murdaugh’s phone that was taken minutes before he died in which multiple witnesses testified hearing the elder Murdaugh’s voice despite Alex Murdaugh claiming he was nowhere near the scene.

A Snapchat video also taken by Paul Murdaugh showed his father wearing a different set of clothing than the clothes he was found in by authorities on the night of the murders. The first set of clothing has never been found, and the second set was “freshly laundered” with no blood on it, according to witness testimony.

That’s problematic because Alex Murdaugh claimed he checked his wife’s and his son’s bodies for signs of life and would have presumably gotten blood on his clothing.

On Tuesday, the defense called Buster to testify on his father’s behalf. The 26-year-old said his father was “heartbroken,” adding that he had been crying and could hardly form sentences when he saw him.

Buster Murdaugh, son of Alex Murdaugh, listens during his father’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Walterboro, S.C.
Joshua Boucher/AP

“He was destroyed,” he said.

On Wednesday, Alex Murdaugh’s law partner testified that more than 24 people who weren’t tied to law enforcement or first responders had trampled through the crime scene before South Carolina investigators arrived.

Mark Ball also claimed that Alex Murdaugh, other lawyers, and friends who had gathered on the grounds were all sent back to the family home before authorities had done a sweep of it, possibly contaminating evidence and risking their safety.

“This is a pretty big farm, and I don’t know who is over there,” he said. “Two people have been gunned down. Safety is one concern. Is the house part of what has gone on here? Where does the crime scene start and stop?”

During cross-examination, Ball admitted that Alex Murdaugh had lied to authorities about where he was before the killings and about lack of concern for his wife and his other son’s safety following the double homicide. Ball also testified about Alex Murdaugh allegedly stealing millions from the family law firm but added he didn’t think that the financial free fall he was in had anything to do with the double murders because Alex Murdaugh had resigned from the firm the day before.

Mark Ball, a former colleague of Alex Murdaugh, testifies during Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.
Joshua Boucher/AP

If Alex Murdaugh is found guilty of murder, South Carolina law mandates he be sentenced to at least 30 years in prison. Prosecutors have passed on seeking the death penalty and are instead pushing for a life sentence.

The investigation into the Murdaugh murders has shed light on three previous deaths linked to the family, though no one has been charged in those cases. Alex Murdaugh has been accused in a separate case of creating an elaborate scheme that included staging his own suicide to look like murder after leaving the law firm his great-grandfather had established 100 years ago.

Main Photo Credit: Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. -Joshua Boucher/AP

Alex Murdaugh trial: Murdaugh testifies he did not shoot wife, son, blames drug addiction for lies to police | Washington Examiner

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Published by VintageDava

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