Alex Murdaugh was ‘destroyed’, ‘heartbroken’ after murders, surviving son says

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 6:32 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 7:05 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son took the stand Tuesday morning in the double murder trial of his mother and brother.

Murdaugh, a former Lowcountry attorney, is charged with gunning down his wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, Paul at the family’s hunting property on Moselle Road in rural Colleton County back on June 7, 2021.

Buster Murdaugh, 26, when asked about his father’s first interview with law enforcement, said it sounded like Alex Murdaugh said, “They did them so bad.”

The clip has caused controversy in the trial with one of the investigators in the car that night testifying he heard, “I did them so bad.”

Buster Murdaugh testified his father said that same statement multiple times that night.

His father called him at 9:10 p.m. on June 7, 2021, and told him he was going to Almeda to check on Libby Murdaugh, Buster Murduagh said.

Defense attorney Jim Griffin asked if the call was different from the other times they had spoken on the phone that day.

“No, sir,” Buster Murdaugh said.

Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh is sworn in to testify his fathers trial at the...
Buster Murdaugh, the son of Alex Murdaugh is sworn in to testify his fathers trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and Courier/Pool(Grace Beahm Alford | Pool photo)

Buster testified that nothing seemed unusual about the conversation and his demeanor appeared normal.

He said it was much different compared to the phone call he received later that night.

“He asked me if I was sitting down, I was like yea, and then he sounded odd, and then he told me my mom and brother had been shot,” Buster Murdaugh said.

Buster Murdaugh described his father as “destroyed” and “heartbroken” when he arrived at Moselle that night. He said neither he nor Alex Murdaugh stayed another night at Moselle.

Buster Murdaugh told jurors he never left his father’s side in the days after the killings. He said they spent time at Almeda, his uncle’s hunting lodge, Summerville with Maggie Murdaugh’s parents and a trip with Maggie Murdaugh’s family to Lake Keowee.

Buster Murdaugh said he had conversations about his safety with his father, but didn’t take any extra precautions.

“Well, I didn’t wanna carry a gun or anything like that. Also didn’t want a private security following me around for lack of privacy,” Buster Murdaugh said.

Buster Murdaugh testified his mother distanced herself from Hampton after the 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh saying she was anxious about the crash and the lawsuits against the family. He said Alex Murdaugh didn’t seem overly worried about the civil case and was more worried about the criminal case against Paul Murdaugh.

The defense also called their own expert who recreated the crime scene at Moselle.

Forensic engineer Mike Sutton says he used reports and photos from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s investigation along with making two trips to Moselle on his own to take measurements and recreate the shootings.

Sutton’s testimony specifically focused on the trajectories of the two shots near Maggie Murdaugh, one that was recovered in the doghouse and one that went through the quail pen.

READ MORE: The Murdaugh Cases

Sutton testified that, based on his findings, the shooter was 5 feet, 2 inches tall because of the locations of the shell casings and angles of entry in both the doghouse and quail pen. Sutton said the shooter would have likely been firing from the hip to create those angles.

“What if any opinion you have as to whether that person could be Alex Murdaugh shooting into that quail pen?” Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said.

“It can’t be,” Sutton said.

Mike Sutton, forensic engineer with the North Carolina-based Accident Research Specialists...
Mike Sutton, forensic engineer with the North Carolina-based Accident Research Specialists answers questions from defense attorney Dick Harpootlian during the Alex Murdaugh trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and Courier/Pool(Grace Beahm Alford | Pool photo)

Prosecutors argued that the shooter could have been moving or kneeling, but Sutton stood by his findings saying that his analysis determined that even if Murdaugh was kneeling he would have been too tall for the shots to travel those angles.

Sutton told jurors it wouldn’t have been possible for Murdaugh to hear the gunshots fired at the kennels from inside the home with the television on. He played a clip from the loudest firearm tested in the loudest direction in court.

“You could barely hear it and we were all listening for it,” Sutton said. “If you were in the house, even if you were walking around you couldn’t hear that. I could barely hear it and I was listening for it.”

The state went after Sutton’s credentials in cross-examination pointing out that he had no formal crime scene reconstruction or firearms training.

Sutton’s recreation also looked at the first shot that hit Paul Murdaugh in the feed room.

Sutton said he stood in the feed room in the general area where Paul was believed to be standing and looked through the holes in the window to determine the trajectory of a pellet that had damaged a tree outside. He then ran a string through the hole and up to the mark on the tree to determine the angle.

Sutton said his testing didn’t take into consideration that the projectiles could have traveled through a person, or an object or take into account a ricochet. Sutton said nothing in the SLED report indicated any of those things happened.

When asked, Sutton said he thought he was the only person to perform trajectory tests beyond the angle of entry on the shots.

Another juror had to be replaced Tuesdays as they became ill. This brings the number of alternates down to just two after two jurors tested positive for COVID-19 last week and another had a medical emergency early in the trial.

Judge Clifton Newman brought up a tweet from defense attorney Jim Griffin that links to an article from The Washington Post calling SLED’s investigation into the murders shoddy.

BLOG: Day 21: Buster Murdaugh takes stand in murder trial

Griffin posted the tweet Saturday morning, but Newman says he just saw it Tuesday and had received e-mails concerning the tweet. He told Griffin that while it wasn’t against the rules for lawyers to comment on a case they are actively taking part in, it’s not in the spirit of the rule.

“It’s not a good practice and it could easily lead to modifications of our rules,” Newman said.

Griffin said he wouldn’t tweet or retweet for the remainder of the trial.

Griffin told the court that the defense expects to rest their case by Friday which would lead to closing statements happening Friday afternoon or Monday before the jury begins deliberations.