Prosecutors batter Murdaugh over lies to law enforcement
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - After two full days of testimony, week five of the Alex Murdaugh double-murder trial ended when he stepped down from the witness stand.
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.
During direct examination Thursday, Murdaugh admitted for the first time that he was at the dog kennels on the property with his wife and son on the night they were shot to death.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters hammered into that lie and others Murdaugh told to investigators and family in the weeks and months after the murders trying to tighten the timeline that Murdaugh had tried to establish as his alibi and accusing Murdaugh of creating “new facts.”
“You’ve been able to lie quickly and easily and convincingly if you think it’ll save your skin for well over a decade,” Waters said.
“I have lied well over a decade,” Murdaugh said.
“And you want this jury to believe a story manufactured to fit the evidence that you brought forth just yesterday,” Waters said. “After hearing this trial’s worth of testimony”
“No sir, that’s not correct,” Murdaugh said.
Murdaugh testified he didn’t tell investigators about being at the kennels and continued to lie because his opioid addiction made him paranoid.
Murdaugh listed a myriad of factors for being paranoid including the bag of pills in his pocket during the interview, his distrust of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and how he believed that SLED agent David Owen was someone else at the time.
However, when Waters played back footage from Colleton County Sgt. Daniel Greene, who was the first officer on the scene, Murdaugh can be heard telling him that he wasn’t with Maggie and Paul Murdaugh at the kennels.
“At that point in time, SLED was not there, no one had gotten GSR from you, your law partners or Sheriff Hill were not there, no one had asked you about your relationships, David Owen was not there but you still told the same lie,” Waters said. “And all those reasons that you just gave this jury about the most important part of your testimony was a lie, too. Isn’t that true, Mr. Murdaugh?”
“I disagree with that,” Murdaugh said.
Murdaugh testified he drove down to the kennels on a golf cart and only stepped off of the golf cart long enough to get a chicken their dog “Bubba” had caught.
Murdaugh said he went back to the house around 8:49 p.m., went inside, and laid on the couch before going to his mother’s house.
Prosecutors have shown in their data that the phones of Paul and Maggie were locked for the final time within seconds of each other at 8:49 p.m.
Waters then asked if the dogs had sensed someone they didn’t know while they were at the kennels.
“There was nobody else around for them to sense,” Murdaugh said.
Waters points to four minutes of activity beginning at 9:02 p.m. calling Murdaugh a “busy bee.”
“You’ve been so clear in your new story about everything,” Waters said. “What were you doing in those four minutes?”
“I know what I wasn’t doing, Mr. Waters,” Murdaugh said. “And what I wasn’t doing was doing anything I believe you’ve implied: Cleaning off or Washing off. Washing off guns. Putting guns in a raincoat.”
Murdaugh testified that he believed at the time and still believes that the 2019 boat crash was a motivating factor for whoever committed the murders, but he didn’t think it was anyone on the boat or their families.
“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 7, they hated Paul Murdaugh, and they had anger in their heart,” Murdaugh said. “And that is the only reason that somebody could be mad at PawPAw like that and hate him like that.”
Waters then asks if it could be vigilantes accusing Murdaugh of trying to explain a lie he told for the first time Thursday.
“So what you’re telling this jury is that it’s a random vigilante,” Waters said. “That it’s the 12-year-old, 5-foot-2 people that just happened to know that Paul and Maggie were both at Moselle on June 7. They knew that they would be at the kennels alone on June 7 and knew that you would not be there but only between the times of 8:49 p.m. and 9:02 p.m. That they show up without a weapon assuming that they’re gonna find weapons and ammunition there that they commit this crime during that short time window and then they travel the same exact route you do around the same time to Almeda. That’s what you’re trying to tell this jury?”
Then Waters asked a question that had only been asked by the defense at that point.
“Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?” Waters said.
“You mean like did I kill my wife and son? No,” Murdaugh said. “I would never hurt Maggie Murdaugh. I would never hurt Paul Murdaugh. Under any circumstances.”
As court went to recess for the weekend, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said the defense still has four witnesses to call and prosecutors are expected to call one or two rebuttal witnesses next week.
The closing arguments in what was originally scheduled to be a three-week murder trial are set for Tuesday or Wednesday, six weeks after jury selection began.
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