Alex Murdaugh’s defense team is expected to rest Monday after the disgraced attorney spent two grueling days last week testifying at his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina.
Defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian said Friday afternoon that they had four more witnesses, including a crime-scene analyst, then planned to formally end their case by the early afternoon.
Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters said he expected to have one or two brief rebuttal witnesses. Closing arguments could be as early as Wednesday.
Monday marks the sixth week of the live-streamed trial that has mapped out the spectacular downfall of the powerful scion of what was once seen as an untouchable legal dynasty in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
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Murdaugh denied fatally shooting Paul, 22, with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, with a rifle near the dog kennels at the family’s hunting estate in Islandton when he took the stand Thursday in his own defense.
“Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?” Waters asked on cross-examination.
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“No, I would never hurt Maggie. I would never hurt Paul,” he told the Colleton County jury.
During the nine-hour grilling that ended Friday afternoon, Waters portrayed Murdaugh as a pill-addled, serial liar who was on the verge of a devastating financial reckoning.
Prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh, in an act of ruthless self-preservation, killed his wife and son to deflect from his theft of nearly $9 million from his law firm and clients to fuel a lavish lifestyle.
The 54-year-old disbarred attorney, who sobbed frequently during his testimony, admitted on the stand for the first time publicly that he had lied to investigators, friends and family about going to the dog kennels the night of the murders.
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He claimed his two-decade-long opioid addiction made him paranoid and distrustful of investigators – although he willingly sat for three separate interviews.
Murdaugh only came clean after cellphone video recovered from Paul’s phone in 2022 placed him at the crime scene minutes before the fatal shootings.
The video, recorded at 8:45 p.m., captured Murdaugh and his wife talking in the background. Prosecutors say he executed his wife and son at about 8:49 p.m. when the victims’ phones locked for the last time.
“You, like you have done so many times in your life, had to back up and make a new story to fit with the facts?” Waters asked.
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“No, sir,” Murdaugh replied. Waters repeatedly poked holes in Murdaugh’s ever-changing account of the night of the crime.
Murdaugh pinned the murders on a deadly 2019 boat wreck. Paul drunkenly crashed his father’s boat into a bridge, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach, injuring four others and triggering a wrongful death lawsuit that set off an unthinkable spiral of destruction for the Murdaugh family.
“I can tell you that at that time, and as I sit here today, that I believe that boat wreck is the reason why PawPaw and Maggie were killed,” he said tearfully. “I’m certain.”
Murdaugh said that after Paul was criminally charged in the crash, he was vilified in the press and received threats on social media.
“I believe then, and I believe today, that the wrong person, the wrong person saw and read that,” he said, adding that he doesn’t suspect that any of the boat passengers or their families are responsible.
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Waters mocked what he described as Murdaugh’s “random vigilantes” theory. These suspects, Waters said, somehow happened to know Paul and Maggie would be alone at the kennels at that exact time and had access to the family’s weapons and ammunition.