Jurors in Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial began deliberating Thursday afternoon after sitting through weeks of testimony and hearing from the defendant himself, who sobbed as he denied killing his wife and son.
A panel will decide if Murdaugh (54), should be sentenced for the murders of his 22-year-old son Paul and his 52-year-old daughter Maggie.
Prosecutors allege that he murdered Maggie and Paul on June 7, 2021, near the Islandton hunting estate in South Carolina. He did this in a desperate attempt to save himself.
Colleton County’s trial has entered its sixth week with more than 70 witnesses.
Jurors received the case after Murdaugh’s defense lawyer Jim Griffin delivered his summations. He argued that investigators “failed miserably” in their probe and accused them of “fabricating evidence” against the defendant.
According to Alex, “SLED [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] failed to properly investigate the case, and if they had done a competent task Alex would have been excluded as a suspect one or two years ago. ”
Griffin claimed SLED was able immediately to focus on Murdaugh without considering other suspects.
He then led jurors through each step of the investigation.
Maggie had hair strands in both her hands that hadn’t been tested. The footwear impressions that were taken at the crime scene weren’t preserved. Griffin stated that DNA samples of victims’ clothing were not taken.
Griffin said that Murdaugh’s evidence was being “fooled” as the investigation progressed.
The report of a state blood-spatter expert, which was not presented at trial, stated Murdaugh’s shirt was sprayed using high-velocity blood.
This would indicate that Murdaugh was only feet from Paul at the time he allegedly shot him.
However, a little later, it was discovered that the shirt did not test positive for blood. The prosecution did a 180-degree turn and claimed that Murdaugh’s white T-shirt looked fresh.
Griffin joked that “They went from Mr. Bloody shirt leading up to this trial to Mr. Clean during the trial.”
The blue raincoat coated in gunshot residue recovered from the home of Murdaugh’s mother months after the killings was never tied to the defendant — but agents told the grand jury it was his, Griffin said.
He also challenged the state’s claim that Paul died at 8:49 p.m. because that is when their phones were locked for the final time.
The motivations of the state have been very weak and somewhat pathetic. But, sometimes people are very good at covering their tracks too.
The attorney was a former federal prosecutor. He ridiculed the state’s motive suggestion that Murdaugh had committed the horrible offense to prevent his financial misfeasances from being made public.
He puts himself in a murder investigation and puts himself in the middle of a media storm. Griffin was baffled.
Another argument made by the attorney was that Murdaugh didn’t need diversion as his father had died three days prior to the murders.
Griffin played the damning dog kennel video that places Murdaugh at the crime scene with the victim within minutes of the murders, shredding Murdaugh’s original claim that he was at the main residence napping.
This clip shows Murdaugh talking to Maggie about their dog Bubba catching a chicken in his mouth.
It’s inconceivable that moments later Murdaugh would fatally shoot his beloved wife and son, Griffin argued.
Griffin conceded as Murdaugh did on the stand, that his client lied repeatedly about being at the kennels that night.
Griffin said, “He lied because that is how addicts do.” Griffin stated, “Addicts lie. He did it because he had a closet full of skeletons. ”
Why would Paul have been suggested by the defense as having been killed?
Griffin suggested that Paul’s actions could have resulted in his death.
“Let me add another scenario that’s equally plausible,” he said. “What if Paul, the ‘detective,’ learned, learned the source of drugs that were being sold to his dad?”
Griffin suggested Paul might have confronted a dealer and threatened to make him give up if he continued selling pills to his father.
“What if the source is a member of a dangerous drug gang?” Griffin raised an objection, which was then accepted.
Paul is known as “the little detective” in his family. He confronted his father over a stash that he had kept in his computer bag a month before the murders.
Griffin also argued that there were likely two shooters because there were two guns.
Griffin gets emotional during the last plea to jurors.
Griffin stated that the state’s case was based on speculations and theories and that there is not enough evidence to support this claim.
Griffin wept, his voice shaking with emotion. “Two words are needed for justice in this instance and those words would have to be ‘not guilty. ”
“On behalf of Alex, on behalf of Buster, on behalf of Maggie, and on behalf of my friend, Paul, I respectfully request that you do not compound a family tragedy with another. Thank you,” he said capping off a two-hour summation.
Paul was, according to the prosecution a key witness in the rebuttal argument
John Meadors was the Assistant Attorney General and delivered the state’s reply argument. This was the final word in Murdaugh’s double murder trial.
Meadors said that he did not know the motive for his actions but that it was his wish to continue his journey.
Meadors said that Murdaugh’s testimony was a gift to the prosecution as he confirmed his lying.
But the person who ultimately solved the case was the little detective, Paul, the prosecutors told jurors.
“Paul, he didn’t testify to you up on this stand, but he testified through Dr. Riemer, and he testified through his phone,” said Meadors, referring to the forensic pathologist and the dog kennel video. “It was so beautiful of him to help us. It was so pure.”
A juror was removed from the case.
The Thursday panel was disbanded after a female juror was accused in a conversation about the case with at most three other people and sharing her views on the evidence presented by the judge.
A rare moment in the trial when the juror dismissed and asked for 12 eggs, her purse, and a bottle of water was remarkable
The judge smiled, and said, “We’ve got a lot of interesting things, but now we have a bunch of eggs,” which elicited laughter from the courtroom.
The prosecution portrays Murdaugh as a clever conman
Creighton Waters was the lead prosecutor and delivered a marathon three-hour closing argument Wednesday. He called the defendant a master manipulator who killed his son and wife to avoid a financial disaster.
Murdaugh was accused of stealing nearly $9 million from clients and former companies. He admitted that he was guilty of most of the thefts.
Waters told jurors that Murdaugh was a cunning conman who tried to deceive them when he took the stand last week.
“This is a man who made his trade on lying. He lied about the most important facts in the case and effortlessly and easily pivoted to a new lie when confronted by something he wasn’t prepared for,” said Waters of Murdaugh’s testimony.
Murdaugh, he added, deceived the people who thought they were closest to him.
“He fooled Maggie and Paul, too, and they paid for it with their lives,” Waters told the jury. “Don’t let him fool you, too.”