COLLETON COUNTY, SC – Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh testified in his defense for a second day Friday, insisting that he did not kill his wife and son in June 2021 as he faced questions about his movements before the killings.
Murdaugh, 54, clashed with Creighton Waters as the prosecutor sought to clarify the timeline leading to the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife, 52-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and his son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. Murdaugh called 911 on the night of June 7, 2021, after he said he found the pair dead near dog kennels at the family’s home in Colleton County.
He initially told investigators that he was not in the area before he found his wife and son dead, though Murdaugh admitted Thursday in court that he lied. He testified that he had gone to the kennel a short while before Maggie and Paul’s deaths, but he said that he left before the killings to get ready to go to his mother’s home.
Waters repeatedly highlighted what he called Murdaugh’s “new story” during questioning on Friday. He focused partially on a four-minute period after Murdaugh returned to his home following his visit to the kennels, where he said he left Maggie and Paul.
Murdaugh struggled to specify what he did in that time, prompting Waters to question why Murdaugh seemed to have a photographic memory for some of the night and yet seemed to be “fuzzy on these kinds of details.” Waters asked whether calls and steps logged on Murdaugh’s phone in those minutes were part of an effort to begin building a story to later tell investigators.
“It’s an absolute fact that I’m not manufacturing an alibi, as you say,” Murdaugh testified. “I never manufactured any alibi in any way shape or form because I did not, and would not, hurt my wife and my child.”
He confirmed on the stand that when he left the kennels, the family’s dogs were not acting out of the ordinary, as they might if a stranger were in the area.
Murdaugh has been charged with the murders of his wife and son. Investigators said Maggie was killed with a rifle and Paul with a shotgun.
The former attorney has denied any involvement in the killings, pointing instead to online threats made against his son in connection with a 2019 boating crash. At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing three counts of boating under the influence in connection with a February 2019 boat crash that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, according to the Greenville News and WCSC-TV.
“I believe that when Paul was charged criminally there were so many leaks, half-truths, half-reports, half-statements, partial information, misrepresentations of Paul that ended up in the media all the time,” Murdaugh said Friday, describing the response on social media as “vile” and “over the top.”
“I believe then and I believe today that the wrong person … saw and read that. Because I can tell you for a fact that the person or people who did what I saw on June the 7th, they hated Paul Murdaugh, and they had anger in their heart, and that is the only, only reason that someone could be mad at Paul Paul like that and hate him like that.”
Defense attorneys have argued that prosecutors wrongly zeroed in on Murdaugh as the prime suspect in the killings of his wife and son without considering other suspects, The Associated Press reported. Prosecutors contend that Murdaugh killed his family members to get sympathy as he faced a rash of criminal charges and financial trouble, according to the AP and The Post and Courier.
Murdaugh admitted Thursday to stealing from some of his clients while he was working as an attorney. Water said in court Friday that Murdaugh stole about $3.7 million from clients in 2019 alone.
Murdaugh testified that he was struggling with a longtime prescription painkiller addiction that fueled his thefts and sometimes contributed to a rash of paranoid thoughts. He said Friday that he sometimes took as many as 2,000 milligrams of oxycodone a day.
He testified that he has since gotten sober.
In addition to murder charges, Murdaugh is facing a host of other criminal charges related to stealing money from clients and allegedly arranging for someone to kill him to allow his surviving to collect a $10 million life insurance policy, among other allegations.
The Murdaugh family has long been influential in southwest South Carolina, where members of the family have served as elected prosecutors for decades. Murdaugh previously served as a part-time prosecutor for the state’s five-county 14th Judicial Court. He also worked for a personal injury attorney at his family’s prominent law firm.
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