Murdaugh Murders – Six witnesses testify in Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial and other details
When the first sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene of a horrific double homicide in South Carolina, Alex Murdoff, whose wife and son was murdered, immediately said he knew the killer’s motive.
“It’s a long story,” Murdoff, a prominent South Carolina attorney, told the deputy, who got out of his squad car to investigate the bloody crime scene. “My son was in a boat wreck months ago; They are getting threats.”
“Most of it is benign things that we didn’t take seriously,” he said, “I know what it is.”
Mr. Murdaugh’s initial encounter with police was heard publicly for the first time on Thursday in a courtroom where he is now on trial, accused of murdering his wife, Maggie, and the younger of their two adult sons, Paul, in June 2021.
Prosecutors played police body camera footage from the scene. They suggested in court that Mr. Murdaugh tried to throw investigators off his path when he explained the crime. He also mentioned the boat accident in the 911 call before the sheriff’s deputy arrived.
Mr. Murdaugh’s son was facing criminal charges at the time of his death, accused of driving a boat under the influence of alcohol which crashed into a bridge after an evening of partying in 2019, killing him. One of the passengers had died.
Mr. Murdo insists that he did not kill his wife and son, and his lawyers argue that the hypothesis he presented was reasonable. He has accused the police of zeroing in on Mr. Murdaugh instead of investigating a range of other possibilities.
Representatives from the Colton County Sheriff’s Office who took the witness stand on Thursday were pressed by the defense as to whether they might have contaminated the crime scene when they arrived that night, destroying evidence that could have cleared Mr. Murdo. It could help in doing or could also help in catching.
The lead defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian, asked two deputies to acknowledge that the tire tracks at the scene were not taped off and then moved forward, making it difficult to identify any other possible perpetrators.
“So, if someone came in and went, who committed the murders, whatever tire tracks were left were wiped off by your men, is that correct?” Mr. Harpootlian asked Sgt. Deputy Daniel Green was the first to arrive on the scene.
“It is possible,” replied Sergeant Green.
Another deputy admitted, in response to Mr. Harpootlian’s question, that he had walked near a victim’s body without his shoes on.
Later in the day, Captain Jason Chapman of the Colton County Sheriff’s Office said in response to prosecutors’ questions that Mr. Murdoff did not appear to have any blood on his body when he arrived, even though he told the 911 dispatcher that he had checked the pulse of both the victims. Both victims were bloody, police witnesses testified, and Captain Chapman noted that it would be particularly difficult to check Paul Murdaugh’s pulse without exposure to his blood.
Mr. Murdaugh’s lawyers have said he returned from a brief visit with his mother that night to find that his wife and son had been shot at the family’s rural hunting property.
Prosecutors argue that Mr. Murdo murdered her in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent anyone from discovering that he had stolen millions of dollars from his law firm and clients over the years. They say Mr. Murdaugh then tried to make up an excuse by making a series of calls and visits to his mother before returning to the scene and calling 911.
Excerpts from that 911 call were released nearly a month after the crimes. Still, the full recording was played publicly for the first time on Thursday, revealing that Mr. Murdo also spoke to a police dispatcher about the boat accident. had mentioned
“He’s being bullied — my son’s boat was wrecked,” Mr. Murdaugh said. He also told the dispatcher that he would take a gun to safety from the crime scene, near the family dog house, about 500 yards from the main house.
That gun, a camouflage-print shotgun, was confiscated by police and shown to the jury in the courtroom on Thursday. The jury of eight women and four men stood attentive on the first day of testimony, leaning forward as body camera footage was played. Two jurors took deep breaths, and one briefly lowered his head several times.
Six witnesses were called to the stand—four first responders and two 911 operators on the night of the murder—who gave extremely graphic testimony at the time.
Murdoch sometimes cried, especially when photos or videos depicting Paul’s body were shown.
Hours of body camera footage from the night showed witnesses conversing with Murdo, which they all agreed was extremely emotional.
A key point for Murdo’s defense was the process of the crime scene. He pointed to several areas he saw as loopholes, which could have caused the evidence to become contaminated or be washed away by subsequent storms. In particular, they focused on one set of tire tracks and one set of footprints, which they say were not properly documented or secured.
State prosecutors worked to dispel that theory, asking witnesses questions about the elaborate protocols they followed. They also pointed to steps to ensure a fair investigation, such as requesting SLED to take over the case due to a “conflict of interest with the family.”
Prosecutors also asked questions focusing on Murdo’s conduct that night and how often he brought up other legal complications, such as the boating accident that the state believes prompted him to kill Maggie and Paul.
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