Alex Murdaugh’s multimillion-dollar theft was about to be exposed, so he killed his wife and son to buy time to find a way out, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in the disgraced murder case from the lawyer in South Carolina.
Fearing that his years of stealing from his law firm and clients would be exposed and hoping to maintain his exalted position in the community, Murdaugh murdered his wife and youngest son in the hopes that it would make him a likeable figure and attract attention. would distract from the missing money. prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors. Aided by his knowledge of how criminal cases work, he came up with a clever plan to make sure they were at the family’s estate in Colleton County by June 7, 2021, he said.
“The pressure on this man was unbearable. And they all reached a crescendo the day his wife and son were killed by him,” Waters said. The defense will summarize its case on Thursday.
Murdaugh, 54, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of either murder. Investigators said his 22-year-old son, Paul, was shot twice with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, was shot four or five times with a shotgun outside the kennels on their property.
Jurors began the day with a visit to the crime scene, where a pool reporter said at least one of them carefully inspected the door frame of a storage closet where Paul Murdaugh was standing when he was killed.
The main piece of evidence linking Alex Murdaugh to the murders is a video Paul Murdaugh took from inside the kennels about five minutes before he last used his cell phone. It took federal agents more than a year to hack into and find the young man’s locked iPhone.
Alex Murdaugh repeatedly told everyone, starting with the first investigator to respond to the murders, that he hadn’t been in the kennels that night. But while testifying in his defense, he admitted that he had lied and that he had been there.
“Why would an innocent, reasonable father and husband lie about that? And lie about it so early?” Waters said.
While the guns used to kill the victims have not been found, an expert testified that the markings on the shell casings found near Maggie Murdaugh’s body matched those on the shell casings found at a shooting range on the family’s property.
But there were no blood spatters linking the murders to Alex Murdaugh or anyone else, and prosecutors didn’t spend much time explaining how they believed Murdaugh could have killed his family, cleaned up after himself, disposed of the clothes and guns, and killed himself. could have calmed down. in the 15 minutes before GPS records show, he left the premises to visit his ailing mother.
The prosecution’s crime scene expert said there was not enough evidence at the scene to say for sure whether there were one or two shooters in the kennels.
Still, Waters said there is enough evidence to link the murders to the financial crimes and that Alex Murdaugh is the only person with the motive, means and ability to kill his wife and son.
“While all this pressure was mounting, the defendant killed Maggie and Paul,” Waters said, pulling out his cell phone and waving it. The forensic timeline puts him there. The use of the family coats of arms contributes to this. And his lies and his guilty actions afterwards confirm that.”
Waters said Alex Murdaugh has been lying for years to cover up his opioid addiction and the millions of dollars he stole, so it would be easy to lie about being in the kennels and killing his family, and to lie when he was the last to testify in his own defense. week.
“You always have to stay one step ahead of the game. I always have to literally beg, borrow and steal for more than a decade to keep from exposing the truth,” said Waters.
The prosecution said he believed Murdaugh had rehearsed his testimony and was afraid to deviate from it, so he couldn’t give details when Waters asked for details that would seem memorable, such as his last conversation with his wife in the kennel before she died .
“This defendant fooled everyone — everyone who thought they were close to him,” Waters said. “He fooled Maggie and Paul, too, and they paid with their lives. Don’t let him fool you too.’
The defense has said state agents conducted a poor investigation that focused too quickly on Alex Murdaugh and missed evidence such as fingerprints and shoe prints that could have led to the real killers.
They asked for jurors to tour the property to help them understand the size of the storage room where Paul Murdaugh was murdered and the distance between the two bodies.
Prosecutors opposed the visit, saying the scene looks different from June 2021, as trees and vegetation have grown and no one has lived on the property since the murders.
Judge Clifton Newman allowed the visit but warned jurors about the differences in how the property now looks. They were also warned to watch out for snakes.
Once the closing arguments are over, the jurors are given their instructions and begin to deliberate about what they learned during a trial that included more than 75 witnesses and lasted more than six weeks. They will be able to view approximately 800 documents, photographs, video of Alex Murdaugh’s police interviews and other records as they pass sentence.
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