The Murdaugh adolescent case: a case study of murder, drugs, and money laundering in a state courtroom
Chris Wilson testified that the man admitted he had a drug problem and was addicted to the pain killers for 20 years. He admitted he was stealing money from his clients and from his law firm due to his drug addiction.
In September of 2021, three months after the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son, the conversation took place.
Wilson’s testimony comes three weeks into the murder trial for the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges.
There is not a single direct evidence that links Murdaugh to the murders. Instead, prosecutors have offered circumstantial evidence, such as the gunshot primer residue found on Murdaugh’s clothes and on a blue raincoat, and the financial motive.
“They’ve got a whole lot more evidence about financial misconduct than they do about evidence of guilt in a murder case. And that’s what this is all about,” defense lawyer Jim Griffin said last week.
He testified that Murdaugh wanted Wilson to rewrite the check and give it to the law firm. Murdaugh wired him back $600,000 but said he didn’t have the full funds, so Wilson had to spend $192,000 of his own money to cover the difference, he said.
Much of the testimony this week has focused on Murdaugh’s financial issues. The judge overseeing the case ruled on Monday to allow such evidence, saying it was “so intimately connected” with the state’s case “that proof of it is essential to complete the story.”
Also in court Thursday, Michael “Tony” Satterfield, the son of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, testified about being defrauded by Murdaugh.
Satterfield testified that he learned of the settlement from his family, who heard about it through media reports. He said when he asked Murdaugh about it in June 2021, Murdaugh told him “it was still making progress” and to be ready to settle by the end of the year.
Murdaugh’s lawyer sued Tinsley, the family of Mallory Beach, Florida, after a boat crash in June 2021
The CEO of the bank that Murdaugh was in testified for the jury that he had an overdrawn account. As of August 2021, Murdaugh had a total debt to the bank of $4.2 million, according to Palmetto State Bank CEO Jan Malinowski.
State Judge Clifton Newman also was made aware of an obscene gesture Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster Murdaugh made toward Mark Tinsley, the attorney representing the family of Mallory Beach, who was killed in a 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh, Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill told CNN. The gesture was made Monday while Tinsley testified outside the jury room.
Tinsley was asked about the lawsuit on Thursday. He testified he wanted $10 million from Murdaugh but that he would only get $1 million. Tinsley was not cross-examined Thursday and is expected to resume his testimony Friday morning.
Jeanne Seckinger testified that they did not intend to bother him about money when they were concerned about his mental state and family being killed.
Indeed, that “day of reckoning” didn’t come for another three months, when his law firm again confronted him about misappropriated funds, leading to his resignation, a bizarre murder-for-hire and insurance scam plot, a stint in rehab, dozens of financial crimes, his disbarment and, ultimately, the murder charges.
The June 10 civil hearing was only one of a series of hearings, according to the defense. Murdaugh faces 99 charges for various financial crimes, but those charges are unrelated to the murders.
Turrubiate-Simpson, who said she was a friend of the Murdaugh family, also testified Alex Murdaugh asked her the day after Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the couple’s grown son, were killed at a family property to clean the home there.
She told me the amount of money they wanted in the lawsuit was $30 million. “She said she knew the amount of money they were asking.
Turrubiate- Simpson said that he was told people were probably going to stop by and bring food. “He said I just want the house to look the way Maggie would like for it to look. So, I said OK and I went to the house.”
The clerk of court in Colleton County said that Murdaugh relatives were ordered to sit further back in the South Carolina courtroom due to inappropriate contact and conduct.
In court Wednesday, Alex Murdaugh’s sister Lynn Murdaugh Goettee passed him a book through a member of his defense team. It was not shared with the victim’s advocate, and Goettee had been admonished just five minutes before that, a source with knowledge of the incident told CNN.
The previous version of the story stated that Mark Tinsley’s testimony started when Buster Murdaugh allegedly made an obscene gesture. It also misstated which John Grisham book was confiscated from Alex Murdaugh; it was “The Judge’s List.”
The younger Murdaugh was admonished for the incident, Hill said. Lynn Murdaugh Goettee and Buster Murdaugh have been warned that they will be unable to be in the courtroom if they violate any more rules.
Amid the book incident, Wednesday’s testimony was interrupted when a bomb threat was called into the clerk’s office and the courthouse in Walterboro was evacuated, Hill said. Hours later, court resumed.
The final trial schedule includes a glimpse into the potential closing arguments, which could start in a few weeks.
The defense will need at least a week to rest their case, and the state plans to do so by the middle of next week, according to Dick Harpootlian.
The defense has out-of-state expert witnesses who will require travel and lodging, Harpootlian said, pointing out the length of the state’s case is making that difficult and expensive to schedule. The state so far has called 44 witnesses and introduced more than 400 exhibits of evidence.
Harpootlian planned to ask the judge to let jurors visit Moselle, the hunting property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed, he said in opening statements.