On Thursday, Alex Murdaugh‘s defense counsel will make their final arguments in his murder trial, attempting to cast doubt on whether he murdered his wife and son in 2021.
Judge Clifton Newman discharged one juror on Thursday morning before closings for inappropriate comments regarding the case.
According to sister station WJCL, the juror who was dismissed expressed her opinion regarding evidence to at least three individuals unrelated to the case. There are now 12 jurors and one alternate.
The prosecution made its final statements on Wednesday, claiming that Murdaugh was the only person with the motivation, means, and opportunity to murder them — and that his subsequent falsehoods exposed him.
According to their account, Murdaugh’s motivation was to divert attention away from his mounting financial woes.
Prosecutors said that the means were two family-owned guns. And the opportunity was Murdaugh’s presence at the crime site minutes before the killings, as shown in a critical video and verified by his own testimony.
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“This defendant… has duped everyone who felt they were close to him,” prosecutor Creighton Waters told the jurors. “He’s duped everyone who believed they knew who he was. He also duped Maggie and Paul, and they paid the price with their lives. Don’t fall for his ruse.”
Murdaugh, 54, is suspected of murdering and shooting his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh beside the family’s dog kennels on the night of June 7, 2021, at their expansive property known as Moselle in Islandton, South Carolina. He has pled not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possessing a firearm.
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Over the course of six weeks, jurors heard from more than 70 witnesses before entering Moselle on Wednesday morning.
The prosecution’s emphasis on Murdaugh’s financial motivation and falsehoods highlights the absence of any concrete evidence linking Murdaugh to the deaths, such as a murder weapon, bloody clothes, or eyewitnesses.
Instead, they’ve based their case on circumstantial evidence, such as a video that shows Murdaugh at the murder scene that night.
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Murdaugh’s emotional testimony over two days last week in which he firmly denied murdering his wife and children underlined the defense argument.
Simultaneously, he acknowledged lying to detectives about his location immediately before the murders. He also acknowledged taking millions of dollars from previous clients and his legal practice, as well as lying to hide his tracks.
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The bizarre case has drawn national attention to Alex Murdaugh, a former personal injury attorney who comes from a dynasty family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where his father, grandpa, and great-grandfather all served as county prosecutors from 1920 to 2006.
Murdaugh was a partner in a prestigious legal firm bearing his name. However, his celebrity belied underlying issues, and the murders of his wife and son were followed by accusations of misappropriated funds, his resignation, a bizarre alleged suicide-for-hire and insurance scam plot, a stint in rehab for drug addiction, dozens of financial crimes, his disbarment, and, eventually, the murder charges.
Separately, he is facing 99 accusations connected to suspected financial offenses, which will be decided at a later hearing.
What the prosecution stated during their closing arguments
Waters began her final remarks by laying out a decade-long history of Murdaugh’s financial misdeeds to demonstrate his motivation for the deaths.
For example, the chief financial officer of his legal business stated that on the morning of June 7, 2021, she questioned Murdaugh about missing monies.
Second, Murdaugh was facing a lawsuit from the family of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old woman who died in February 2019 after a boat owned by Murdaugh and reportedly operated by Paul crashed.
Prosecutors said that a hearing in that civil action, planned for June 10, 2021, had the potential to uncover his financial issues.
“The demands on this guy were overwhelming, and they reached a climax the day he killed his wife and children,” Waters said.
Waters then sought to prove Murdaugh was at the kennels that night and lied about it.
Murdaugh had long denied going to the kennels that night, although audio from Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of a video captured on Paul’s phone at 8:44 p.m.
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Murdaugh took the stand after nearly a dozen friends and family members recognized his voice on the video and said he was there and lied to authorities.
“Everything changed after that (video). What caused it to alter everything? Opportunity. Being at the site of the crime when the killings happened, “Waters said. “Most crucially, the defendant’s falsehoods concerning the most crucial item he might have informed law enforcement were exposed.
‘How long has it been since I last saw my wife and kids alive?’ Why would an innocent, rational father and spouse lie about that, especially so early? He had no idea (video) was there.”
Waters also said that Murdaugh had the “means” to conduct the killings, namely the weapons used in the crime. Maggie was slain with a Blackout rifle, and Paul was killed by a shotgun, both of which were family firearms, according to Waters.
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Next, the prosecution went through Murdaugh’s claims regarding the case, including his appearance at the kennels. “Murdaugh lies convincingly and effortlessly, and he can do it at the drop of a hat,” he remarked.