South Carolina prosecutors asked Alex Murdaugh flatly Friday whether he is a “family annihilator” during a two-day tough cross-examination at his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina.
Murdaugh, according to Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters, was a pill-addled serial liar on the approach of a severe financial reckoning when he allegedly murdered his wife and kid in June 2021.
“Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?” Waters inquired.
“No, I would never harm Maggie or Paul,” he told the Colleton County jurors.
The question came at the close of Waters’ almost nine-hour-long cross-examination, which began Thursday afternoon.
He systematically pressed an exhausted Murdaugh on his ever-changing story of what transpired the night of the killings.
Murdaugh spoke in his own defence Thursday, denying fatally shooting Paul, 22, with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, with a rifle near the dog kennels at their hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina.
He did, however, confess to lying to investigators, friends, and family about being there that night.
Murdaugh was chastised by Waters for saying he had completely cooperated with investigators.
“Except for maybe the most critical detail of all, you’d been at the crime site with the victims only minutes before they died?” Waters were fired.
“I didn’t inform them I was going to the kennel,” Murdaugh said.
As cellphone footage seized from Paul’s phone caught the voices of Murdaugh and his wife around 8:45 p.m., the humiliated scion of a once-powerful legal family came clean for the first time publicly on the witness stand.
In the background of the video, they can be heard discussing the family’s yellow lab, Bubba, capturing a chicken in his jaws.
The evidence contradicted Murdaugh’s alibi and put him approximately four minutes before prosecutors believe Paul and Maggie were shot to death.
“You had to back up, like you have so many times in your life, and make up a new tale to match the facts?” Waters inquired.
“No, sir,” Murdaugh said.
On Friday, February 24, 2023, Alex Murdaugh stands during a break in his murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse. Pool (Joshua Boucher/The State)
Murdaugh told jurors he lied because he did not trust investigators and was paranoid due to his opiate addiction.
Murdaugh said that after Paul filmed the cellphone footage, he returned to the main home at 8:50 p.m.
Murdaugh said he did not bring his smartphone to the kennels, and the device went black between 8:08 p.m. and 9:02 p.m., according to documents.
Murdaugh made a flurry of calls and went nearly 300 steps in four minutes beginning at 9:02 p.m., according to the data.
“At 9:02, you finally have the phone in your hand, moving about and making all these phone calls to fabricate an alibi, isn’t that correct?” Waters inquired.
“That’s just wrong,” Murdaugh said, unable to describe what he was doing at the time.
At 9:06 p.m., Murdaugh started his Chevrolet Suburban and went to his sick mother’s house in neighbouring Almeda.
Creighton Waters, left, cross-examines Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday, February 23. (Joshua Boucher/ Pool/ The State)
He didn’t see Paul or Maggie when he returned, so he drove down to the kennels, arriving at 10:05:57 p.m.
He phoned 911 20 seconds later, telling the operator that he had checked the pulses of his wife and kid, who were 30 feet apart, and that they had been “badly shot.”
“According to what you repeatedly informed police enforcement, you got out of the automobile and went to check on the corpses, correct? Prior to dialling 911. Is that right?” Waters inquired, her gaze fixed on the little window.
“No, sir, that is not accurate,” Murdaugh corrected himself. He stated he examined their corpses while talking to the dispatcher.
When being challenged with material that contradicted his earlier allegation, Waters accused him of altering his narrative once again.
Murdaugh blamed the killings on a tragic boat catastrophe in 2019.
Alex Murdaugh sobs as he testifies in his own defence in his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday, Feb. 23. Pool (Grace Beahm Alford/ The Post & Courier)
Paul drunkenly smashed his father’s boat into a bridge, killing Mallory Beach, wounding four others, and initiating a wrongful death case that sent the Murdaugh family into an inconceivable spiral of ruin.
“I can tell you that at the time, and as I sit here now, I think that boat crash is what killed PawPaw and Maggie,” he sobbed. “I’m positive.”
Murdaugh said that once Paul was charged with a crime in connection with the accident, he was attacked in the press and received threats on social media.
“I think then, and I believe now, that the wrong person, the wrong person saw and read it,” he said, adding that none of the boat passengers or their families are to blame.
Murdaugh’s “random vigilantes” hypothesis was criticised by Waters. These suspects, according to Waters, were aware that Paul and Maggie would be alone at the kennels at that time and had access to the family’s firearms and ammo.
Lynn Murdaugh Goette, Randy Murdaugh, and Buster Murdaugh, from left, watch as Alex Murdaugh testifies in the Colleton County Courthouse on February 23, 2023.
Lynn Murdaugh Goette, Randy Murdaugh, and Buster Murdaugh, from left, watch as Alex Murdaugh testifies in the Colleton County Courthouse on February 23, 2023. (POOL)
Murdaugh admitted to having a severe opioid addiction and was taking 1,000 to 2,000 mg of oxycodone each day.
He testified that Paul questioned him about his drug usage approximately a month before the slayings, suggesting a probable reason for the crimes.
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, the highest suggested dosage for pain is 288 milligrammes.
Waters also grilled Murdaugh regarding his failed suicide attempt on September 4, 2021.
He requested his heroin dealer, Curtis Smith, to murder him the day after he was fired from the family law company for stealing so his oldest son, Buster, could earn a $12 million life insurance benefit.
Smith, on the other hand, just grazed Murdaugh’s head. Murdaugh, according to Waters, did not mean to commit suicide.
“When you faced responsibility for the first time in your life of luxury, popularity, and fortune, you became a victim, and everyone rushed to your help. Isn’t that correct?” Waters inquired, alluding to the double homicide and insurance-fraud scheme.
“I disagree with you,” he said.
Waters grilled Murdaugh for two and a half hours on Thursday about the millions he swindled from his clients to feed his addiction and support his opulent lifestyle.
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Murdaugh frequently recognised his flaws, but Waters persisted on going through the most severe ones with him.
Authorities claim Murdaugh murdered his wife and kid in an attempt of merciless self-preservation to divert attention away from his theft of roughly $9 million from his law practise and customers.