Alex Murdaugh denied the murders as the prosecutors pressed him on his stories
Alex Murdaugh and Paul Harpootlian Revealed in a Forensic Video Recorded on Paul’s Phone
Several witnesses have testified that Alex Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in a video that authorities say he recorded at 8:44 p.m.
The video, just short of a minute long, was filmed on Paul’s phone starting at 8:44 p.m. the night of the killings, according to Lt. David Britton Dove, a supervisor in the computer crimes center at the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division who extracted forensic data from the phones belonging to Murdaugh, his son and his wife. In his review of the trio’s phones, the footage was the only video or photo Dove deemed relevant to the investigation, he said, telling the court it appeared to be recorded in the area of the Murdaugh family’s kennels.
Three different voices could be heard in the footage, Dove testified Wednesday. And while Dove did not personally know the voices, he said, “You can tell that they’re different voices.”
Murdaugh claimed to law enforcement he sawMaggie and Paul in the middle of the night. They ate dinner together before Murdaugh took a nap and then drove to Almeda to visit his mother. He discovered the bodies of his wife and son, he said, when he returned home and called 911 at 10:07 p.m.
At 8:40 p.m. on the night of the shooting, Murdaugh asked if something was off with Cash, which was in a kennel at the Murdaugh property. The reception was not good enough, so the two tried to hold a video call, but that did not work out. Paul Murdaugh told him he would take a video of the dog and send it to him if the FaceTime call didn’t work, Gibson said, but he never received the footage.
Murdaugh had told investigators he had not been to the scene that night but prosecutors argue he was there shortly before 9 p.m.
Harpootlian said the audio from the video would show a normal discussion between Murdaugh and his wife. Paul is “very happy,” Harpootlian claimed. Nobody is threatening him. Daddy is not killing him with a shotgun.
When his son and wife were found murdered, Murdaugh admitted in court that he lied to investigators when he said he wasn’t at the scene.
Murdaugh visited his mother about 15 to 20 minutes after the murders, according to a home care worker who was taking care of her. A few days later, they again saw each other and Murdaugh insisted that he had been there 30 to 40 minutes on the night of the murders, she testified.
Dove said that Murdaugh’s father, who was in ailing health, was the subject of a group chat with her family about the night she was killed.
In his opening statement last week, Waters told the jury Murdaugh repeatedly called his wife that evening before texting her that he was going to visit his mother and driving to Almeda, South Carolina.
Paul and Maggie Murdaugh reveals a strange crime-for-hire plot in Los Angeles, California, about a year after the murders
Around 8:49 p.m., Paul and Maggie’s phones, which location data showed to be at the kennels, were locked for the last time. The data shows that the phone moved 59 steps from 8:53:15 to 8:58:24. The phone went from portrait to landscape and back several times.
Dove said it would appear that way and there was no way to know who deleted the calls.
It’s possible that calls were actually removed from the log, if there was a gap like that.
Dove testified that Murdaugh typically checked his text messages within 5 minutes and sometimes 30 to 40 minutes.
Murdaugh testified his opioid use was “certainly a cause” of his financial problems, but not the only cause. He said he was using the money he stole from clients to buy pills but not all of it. Murdaugh wouldn’t object to a term that was called a “wealthy lifestyle” by the prosecution.
Three months after the killings, on September 3, 2021, Murdaugh’s colleagues again confronted him about the missing funds and forced him to resign. A day later, Murdaugh was shot on the side of a rural road in what he initially claimed was a random attack – but investigators eventually determined was part of a bizarre murder-for-hire plot concocted by Murdaugh.
Wilson also testified that he spoke with Murdaugh three times on the phone around the time of the murders. In the short conversations, nothing sounded out of the ordinary, Wilson said.
Martin Murdaugh, Michael Satterfield, and a prosecuting attorney: Money, personal injury, and the case of Maggie and Paul
Defense lawyer Jim said that there was more evidence of financial fraud than there was of murder in the case.
He and Murdaugh had worked on a personal injury case together and won a verdict of $5.5 million, with each attorney earning about $792,000. Murdaugh asked Wilson to write the check to him personally rather than his law firm, and Wilson did as requested.
Money has been the focus of testimony this week. The judge says that proof of it is needed to complete the story in this case, because it is so intertwined with the state case.
Also in court Thursday, Michael “Tony” Satterfield, the son of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, testified about being defrauded by Murdaugh.
Satterfield said that he was informed of the settlement by his family. 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.
Further, the CEO of a local bank testified for the jury that Murdaugh’s account was overdrafted by about $350,000. The total debt to the bank for Murdaugh was over four million dollars as of August 2021, according to the CEO.
The family of a teenager who was killed in a boat wreck owned by Murdaugh and allegedly driven by Paul had filed a lawsuit against him. The June 10, 2021, hearing in the civil case had the potential to reveal his financial problems, prosecutors argued.
At the time Maggie and Paul were killed, Murdaugh was facing a lawsuit from Beach’s family. A hearing in that civil case was scheduled for June 10, 2021, and had the potential to reveal Murdaugh’s financial problems, prosecutors have said.
On Thursday, the prosecution asked Tinsley about how that lawsuit was proceeding. He testified he was seeking $10 million from Murdaugh, but was told Murdaugh was broke and might only be able to come up with $1 million. Tinsley is expected to resume his testimony Friday morning.
The CFO testified that they wouldn’t go in to harass him about money and worried about his mental state after his family had been 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.
A 911 Call to Murdaugh to Tell Him he’s Shot: When he tries to tell him to stop and ask him to leave
Then, in a final dramatic moment Friday, prosecutors played body camera footage recorded by an officer who responded to the scene immediately after Murdaugh had called 911.
Within 30 seconds after they started talking, the deputy asked if he had brought the gun from inside the home. Murdaugh says yes, and then offers his own reasoning as to why someone would kill his family.
The deputy asked where the gun was, and Murdaugh told him it was leaning against his vehicle. The deputy checks Murdaugh’s shirt before talking further.
This is a story that’s going on for many years. My son was in a boat wreck. Murdaugh says that he’s been getting threats. Most of it has been harmless. We didn’t take serious, you know, he’s been getting like punched. I know that’s what it is.
Murdaugh was able to be heard answering, “It was earlier tonight.” “I don’t know the exact time, but I left. I was probably gone an hour and a half for my mom’s, and I saw them about 45 minutes before that.”
Murdaugh’s death was caused by a gunshot shot to his lung and his head, according to a graphic testimony by Ellen Riemer
Ellen Riemer, a pathologist at Medical University of South Carolina, gave graphic testimony Monday about the injuries she found when she examinedMaggie and Paul.
Alex Murdaugh cried when Riemer detailed the extent of the wounds to his son and wife, and dabbed his eyes and clenched his jaw. He moved his head as he listened.
Riemer said that Murdaugh was shot twice with a shotgun. Riemer testified that the shot damaged his lung, but it did not kill him. The second shot entered through the top of his shoulder and went to the left side of his neck, where it exited the top of the head.
“I don’t see anything on his hands that would indicate he had his hands up to his face in anticipation of the injury that was about to happen,” Riemer testified. His arm was down after the first shot, and I do not see any evidence of injury to his hands from the second shot.
The next shot went upward, starting at Maggie’s chest and going through the left side of her face. Riemer said she believed it to be because of the first two shots, which caused her to double over. This wound would have been immediately fatal, she said. Riemer testified that the last gunshot was to the back of the head.
The Murdaugh Dynasty: Moller’s First Jurors, Harvey’s Appellate Charges, and the Case of Alex and Margaret Mordaugh in South Carolina
The remaining jurors were tested Monday and will be tested again Wednesday. The jury would wear masks, but Judge Newman said they would have a positive attitude and the proceedings wouldn’t be delayed.
Editor’s Note: The HBO docuseries “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty” chronicles the family’s influence in South Carolina. It airs on CNN Sunday, February 19, at 8 p.m. ET.
Prosecutors rested their case Friday after calling more than 60 witnesses to bolster their argument that Alex Murdaugh shot and killed his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh at the family’s Islandton estate in June 2021 in an attempt to distract from financial misconduct allegations against him.
Cell phone records showed that on the same day, Maggie Murdaugh searched on Google “white pill 30 on one side rp,” prosecutors said. The description matches a 30 mg Oxycodone Hydrochloride pill. The prosecution said that they deleted her searches for the pills.
On May 7, 2021, AlexMurdaugh sent a message to his wife apologizing and telling her he was sorry. I love you.
The defense has characterized the victim as a loving husband and father who called the emergency services after finding his wife and son because he wanted to make sure they didn’t end up dead, and who is being prosecuted after a poorly handled investigation.
The defense on Friday called to the stand its first two witnesses, including Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey who said he estimated the time of death for Paul and Maggie to be around 9 p.m. that night, based on armpit checks he conducted. When questioned by the defense whether Maggie or Paul could have been shot at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. or any time in between, Harvey said yes.
Alex Murdaugh called police seconds after his car was found, and an investigator told the court that he had combined data from cell phones and vehicles to show that Murdaugh was the one who killed his wife and brother-in-law.
The investigator for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division gave testimony on Friday that he was able to plot Murdaugh’s movements on the night of the killings.
Rudofski testified that while on his way to his mother’s house that night, Murdaugh drove by the spot on the side of the road where Maggie’s cell phone was later recovered by investigators.
The investigator said Murdaugh arrived at the family dog house on the Moselle property at 10:00 p.m. after taking a turn into the front entrance.
Correspondence between Murdaugh and the jury in the case of a murderer’s alleged misinterpretation of his voice
According to previous testimony, he told investigators on the night of the killings that when he arrived at the crime scene and discovered the bodies, he tried to turn Paul over, then attempted to check Paul’s cell phone, and then attempted to tried both of their pulses, before calling 911.
The Attorney General’s Office has been prosecuting the case since it was transferred from the local solicitor due to their long relationship with the Murdaugh family.
Finally, Murdaugh was able to use his decades of experience as an attorney to control the narrative when he was questioned by prosecutors, experts said. During those lines of questioning, prosecutors ideally want to elicit only “Yes” or “No” responses from a defendant to try and drive their point home, legal experts said. Murdaugh gave a long explanation when he responded. In that way, experts noted, he potentially was able to humanize himself more, and look more sympathetic to the jurors.
Owen explained that Rogan has been with your family for a long time. “And he recognizes your voice, and you have a distinct voice. Can you think of anybody else that has a voice similar to yours that he may have misinterpreted?”
Murdaugh and Blanca Simpson in Moselle the night of the 2021 killings: When did they decide to come to Moselle?
The agents confronted Murdaugh about a video he looked at on his phone, which was captured by Paul the night of the killings. In it, Murdaugh is seen wearing pants and a blue shirt. But later, he was wearing shorts and a white T-shirt.
“There’s a video on Paul’s phone of you and him on the farm that night. You’re wearing khaki pants and a dress shirt … When I met you that night, you were in shorts and a T-shirt,” Owen said. “At what point in the evening did you change clothes?”
Murdaugh said during the August 2021, interview with SLED thatMaggie decided to go to Moselle the night of the killings because she was concerned about him and his father.
Blanca Simpson, a family housekeeper, similarly testified last week that Maggie told her the day of the murders that Alex had asked both Maggie and Paul to come to Moselle that night.
“And the reason you didn’t, (was because) you weren’t concerned about those clothes. Your investigation had been focused since early June on the T-shirt he was wearing, the shorts he was wearing and shoes he was wearing at the time he called 911,” Griffin said.
Owen testified that he told the grand jury that an expert looked at the front of the T-shirt and found particles of blood spatter, which was sent to a lab for testing. The test, however, found no blood on the shirt.
When you had a HemaTrace test to confirm whether there was blood, it came up negative. Wasn’t that overlooked?” asked Griffin.
“Whoever killed Maggie and Paul would likely have biological material on them from the blasts that killed the two victims, right?,” Griffin asked Owen.
Alex Murdaugh and the drug gang he/she hired to kill Buster in September 2021: Key moments from his first day of testimony
Murdaugh was injured in a roadside shooting in September 2021, months after the killings. The authorities alleged that Murdaugh arranged for a man to kill Buster so that he could get millions of dollars in life insurance.
Owen said he was told the drug gang wouldn’t worry about the money because it knew it was going to be paid.
Was Alex Murdaugh aware that someone else might be involved in his son or wife’s murder before that day?
Asked if a cell phone analysis had been performed to see if any of the drug gang members were in the area the night of the killings, Owen said drug gang members typically use burner phones, and he didn’t have their phone numbers. State investigators were able to identify only first responders at the scene of the Moselle analysis.
The defense attorney also asked Owen if any DNA analysis had been done to match a small amount of unknown male DNA found under Maggie Murdaugh’s fingernail. Owen said no.
In opening statements of Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial, the prosecution went into a lengthy defense of the value and importance of circumstantial evidence.
Murdaugh was portrayed as a loving father and husband by the defense, after what they stated was a poorly handled investigation. Here are some of the key moments from his first day of testimony:
The prosecutions lack of direct evidence makes it hard to convict, according to legal experts who have followed the trial.
The case will be harder because of it, said trial Attorney Misty Marris. If the prosecutors can show a motive and opportunity, then that case can rise to the level needed to get a conviction.
“Jurors want science, jurors want DNA, jurors want something that’s persuasive,” Azari said. “But because (prosecutors) lack it … their focus is now on the tenuous motive and the lies after the fact, but neither of those things … substitute the evidence that they need.”
Buster Murdaugh, the father of a four-year-old boy, is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife and son
The video was recorded at the family home in Islandton and appears to focus on one of their dogs. In the background, three different voices can be heard in the footage, and family friends identified those voices as that of Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.
The prosecution has used that Snapchat video to try to disprove his assertion that he was asleep, and other testimony has also cut into his claims about how long he had been with his mother.
Finally, state prosecutors have tried to understand why Murdaugh would kill his wife and son.
After weeks of testimony, a South Carolina court finally heard Thursday from Alex Murdaugh, who is facing two counts of murder in the deaths of his wife and son.
Buster Murdaugh was called as the defense’s first witness of the day. He is expected to be followed by an accident reconstructionist who will likely focus on the findings of the investigation, including how it was treated, as a source previously told CNN.
The reports were written by the officers of the sheriff’s office who found shell casings and called a tow truck company to the scene. They said they looked for cameras from neighboring businesses, but the police reports did not say whether or not they found any.
Mr. Murdaugh said that he asked Mr. Smith to shoot him. Mr. Murdaugh wanted to make his suicide look like a murder in order to get more life insurance for his son.
Mr. Murdaugh turned himself in to the police to face charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
“I admit, candidly, in all of these cases, Mr. Waters, that I took money that was not mine, and I shouldn’t have done it,” Murdaugh said in response to prosecutor Creighton Waters during the prosecution’s cross-examination.
Murdaugh was on the phone when he was going to work and finding the bodies of his wife and son: How often did he try to kill himself?
Murdaugh went back to the house in Islandton because he assumed that Margaret and Paul were at the kennels, even after he visited his mother.
Murdaugh recalled calling 911 and “trying to tend” to Paul and Maggie, going back and forth between them while on the phone. Paul’s injuries were particularly bad, Murdaugh said, and he recalled trying to check his son’s body for a pulse and trying to turn him over.
“I don’t know why I tried to turn him over,” an emotional Murdaugh said. “I mean, my boy’s laying face down. He has done it the way he has done it. His head was the way his head was. I could see his brain laying on the sidewalk. I didn’t know what to do.”
Murdaugh denied that he looked for a restaurant in Edisto Beach on his phone before finding the bodies, and that he read a group message shortly after finding the bodies.
On Friday, Murdaugh admitted sometimes taking more than 2,000 milligrams of oxycodone per day in the months leading up to the deaths of his wife and son. He testified that the drugs made whatever he was doing more interesting.
When asked if that drug transaction actually happened, Murdaugh said he didn’t know because after withdrawal symptoms started, Murdaugh said he changed his plan.
The Murdaugh – Waters Relationship and the 2019 Boat Scaw Case (with an Appendix by R. J. Waters)
After about six hours of testimony Friday – which included a prosecutor grilling the former disgraced South Carolina attorney over lies, drug use and details in the grisly case – the court adjourned for the weekend and is set to resume Monday morning.
You disagree with my contention that you have a photographic memory about the details that need to fit, but you are not sure about the other details that make it difficult? You disagree with that?”
Waters asked Murdaugh if the dogs at the kennel were barking while he was there with his wife and son.
I know what you mean, Mr. Waters, and I concur with you, that I wasn’t doing anything except washing off the guns or putting them in a raincoat. Murdaugh promised that he wasn’t doing any of that.
He said he did not invent an alibi because he would not hurt his wife and child. I know for a fact that I did not create an alibi.
He said that the person or people who did what he saw hated Paul Murdaugh. “And they had anger in their heart.”
Connection to boat crash: Murdaugh said a “random vigilante” may be involved in the murders of his wife and son. Paul Murdaugh said that he believed a fatal boat wreck was the reason for the killings. He then clarified that he did not believe anyone involved in the 2019 boat wreck had anything to do with the murders — but suspected it was someone who had heard about what happened.
Waters asked Murdaugh to identify when he decided to lie to investigators, as he showed video excerpts from his previous interviews with police.
After Waters finished his cross examination, Jim Griffin began questioning him again, after a brief break. The court was adjourned for the day after the questioning was over.
Murdaugh: A convicted drug dealer and a prisoner of second amendment, with a potential sentence of life in prison and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime
“They are real people. They’re good people. Murdaugh said that he did wrong by a lot of the people he cared about.
I can’t answer that because it came from me or not. But I will agree with you that every single client I looked them in the eye and I believe that the people that I stole money from for all those years trusted me.”
“I did lie to them,” he said of his comments to investigators that he had not been that day to the estate’s dog kennels, where the bodies of Maggie and Paul were found, until he found them dead. He claimed he lied because he was addicted to opiate painkillers.
The day after the killings, Murdaugh reported that he was shot along the road and that he had a superficial gunshot wound to the head.
He said that his paranoid thinking, his distrust of SLED, and the fact that he had a pocket full of money led him to lie to police. The prosecution played clips of the police interview.
He is being tried at the Courthouse in Walterboro and is charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. If convicted, he faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
The Late-Time Correspondence between Murdaugh and Owen, a South Carolina Police Detective, Investigates the Cases of Two Shooting-Slaved Prosessors
Waters argued that he chose to lie so soon after the deaths, making him wonder about his other explanations. The prosecutor said that all of the excuses you gave for not giving evidence was a lie.
Shortly after, Murdaugh testified that he would have killed himself rather than his family. “I can promise you I would hurt myself before I would hurt one of them, without a doubt,” he said.
“You told this jury how cooperative you’ve been and how much information you wanted to provide, but you left out the most important parts, didn’t you?” Waters asked.
Waters and Murdaughexchanges kept turning testy. Waters said Murdaugh was “fuzzy” on details when the two talked about his last minutes with his wife and son.
Waters began with the first interrogation by lead South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigator David Owen, held in a car hours after the killings.
When investigating, Owen asked Murdaugh if the last time he saw two people was when they were eating supper.
Murdaugh sat in the golf cart at the kennels for most of the night. He briefly left the golf cart to take a chicken from his dog Bubba’s mouth, he said.
Waters said that cell phone location data shows that Murdaugh did not bring his phone down to the kennels. Murdaugh said that it was not common for him to leave his phone in the house.
Alex Murdaugh’s phone was immobile at the main house during that time. But starting at 9:02 p.m., data from Murdaugh’s phone showed that it moved 283 steps in four minutes.
Asked about those movements, Murdaugh testified he was getting ready to go to his mother’s house but provided no details about that process in spite of continuous prodding by Waters.
Noting that he had just left Maggie at the nearby kennels and had then failed to get her on the phone, Waters asked why Murdaugh didn’t just swing by the kennels to speak with her. “She’s so close, and there’s a driveway right there,” Waters said.
The Murdaugh Case: Going on the Stand in a Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Office, Not at the K-Factors
There were days when he took more than 60 pills a day, according to Murdaugh. At the time, he said, he was buying various types of 30-milligram pills of oxycodone.
He refused to dispute the prosecutor’s accounts of misdeeds, but he could not remember details or precise conversations.
Waters also questioned Murdaugh about a solicitor’s badge he carried for years — a credential he received from his father when he volunteered at the circuit solicitor’s office that elder generations of the Murdaugh family led for some 86 years.
Waters displayed a photo of Murdaugh wearing the badge as he spoke to people on the night of his son Paul’s boating accident in 2019, which left one woman dead. The family was thrust into the spotlight and Murdaugh believes it is linked to the execution-style killings.
Legal experts told CNN that having Murdaugh testify was a calculated risk by the defense. While many attorneys don’t like to put their clients on the stand because it’s hard to predict what questions prosecutors will ask and how the jury will perceive the accused, Murdaugh was the prime defendant for the job, experts said.
“If you’re going to have somebody testify, having a lawyer who’s smart, who’s been in the courtroom, who’s lied for 20 years … that’s the guy you want on the stand,” criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Mark Eiglarsh said. It takes one juror to connect with him.
According to several attorneys, Murdaugh had no choice but to testify in this case, since he was at a disadvantage when taking the stand.
“It’s the million dollar question that everybody wanted to know: why did you lie that you were not at the kennels? So he had to give an explanation as to that,” criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Bernarda Villalona said. “That’s what I think is the main reason why the criminal defense attorney in this case made a calculated decision to put him on the stand.”
Putting it all out on the line and coming clean, as Murdaugh appeared to do during the trial by sharing details about his drug addiction and admitting to a slew of financial crimes, may have been an attempt by his defense to garner sympathy from jurors, legal experts said.
“They’re trying to use it for a very positive effect, to show that he had a problem (with addiction), he is sympathetic for trying to wrestle with it and that that may have made him paranoid and caused him to distrust the police and telling them this lie about not being there,” defense attorney Shan Wu said.
If he was addicted, he might have acted irrationally at the time and the jury might believe that he killed his family. It is a double-edged sword.
“What they’re doing, the prosecutors, is saying he’s a liar, he’s a cheat, he can’t be trusted and you should not at all take whatever he says at face value,” criminal defense attorney and CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson said.
Alex Murdaugh: An Expert in Crime Scene Analysis, Blood Spatter Analysis, and Two-Shooter Theory, Testified on a Case Study in June 2021
According to experts, Murdaugh was a model witness. When he spoke, he looked straight at jurors and talked about his deceased wife and son, often mentioning them by their endearing nickname. He called his son “Paul-Paul,” during testimony, and often referred to his wife as “Mags.”
“That’s one of the biggest sticking points for the prosecution in this trial: it’s would he really do this?” said Jessica Roth, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law. “Despite all the other crimes he’s admitted to, would he actually kill his wife and son?
Monday’s testimony was headlined by an expert in crime scene reconstruction and blood spatter analysis who testified that the evidence suggests two shooters carried out the killings of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh in June 2021.
A former professor at the University of New Haven was hired to review and analyze the case of Alex Murdaugh.
In defending his two-shooter theory, he noted that Paul was shot by a shotgun and Margaret was shot by a Blackout rifle. The shooter of Paul would have been a bit surprised by the violence, since it was from such close range.
He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges in the June 7, 2021, killings of their family’s dogs outside their home in Islandton, South Carolina. He separately faces 99 charges for alleged financial crimes that will be adjudicated at a future date.
The Case against Murdaugh: The Trial of a Man Without a Cryptogenically Closed Mind Is Coming to an End
The prosecution, which featured 61 witnesses over three weeks of testimony, said they plan to seek testimony from four or five rebuttal witnesses on Tuesday. Judge Clifton Newman also ruled jurors will be allowed to visit the family’s sprawling estate after the rebuttal witnesses but prior to closing arguments.
The 14th and final defense witness was the defendant’s brother John Marvin Murdaugh, who testified in emotional terms that law enforcement released the crime scene back to the family without cleaning up Paul Murdaugh’s remains.
He said that the piece of Paul’s skull was about the size of a baseball. I was enraged that this young man had been murdered and the remains were still there.
The defense has also tried to portray the investigation into the case as shoddy, arguing that the crime scene was not secure or handled carefully. Mark Ball was one of the former law firm colleagues of Murdaugh who testified that no barricade or tape was put up to keep people out of the property on the night of the killings.
In particular, they have tried to prove he was at the crime scene that night, worked to show he lied to investigators and painted a picture of a fraudster who killed his wife and son in a desperate bid to distract the investigations into his actions.
That shooting was followed by a stint in rehab for drug addiction, dozens of allegations of financial crimes, his disbarment and, ultimately, the murder charges.
The state plans to call four or five witnesses to testify on issues raised by the defense, and hopes to finish with all of them by the end of the Tuesday, prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
The case against Murdaugh, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges, came to a close Monday.
Prosecutors have used a video filmed at the dog kennels shortly before authorities say the killings took place to argue Murdaugh was at the scene just minutes before the fatal shootings.
A Coroner’s Report on the Investigation of Rigid Mortis in St. Johns-Johnson’s Drive-In Autopsies
One to three hours following death, rigor mortis can begin to set in, according to Harvey, who testified that he arrived on the scene at 11:04p.m.
Jonathan Eisenstat, a forensic pathologist, testified Monday that he does not believe that armpit temperature checks are a valid method of determining time of death.
He said that if someone arrives on scene they should first check the ambient temperature of the area where the body is found and then take a rectal temperature to make sure it’s in line with the core body temperature.
Harvey testified earlier that he did not take rectal temperatures that night. During cross examination, prosecutors asked if the coroner had an idea of when the killings occurred since he did not take exact temperatures.