Defense launches multiple shooter theory as prosecutors focus on interview with law enforcement in Alex Murdaugh murder trial
“I hurt her so badly.”
That’s what a South Carolina investigator testified Monday that Alex Murdaugh said between sobs in a taped interview three days after Murdaugh’s wife and son died.
But to others inside and outside the courtroom, it sounded like Murdaugh said, “They hurt him so badly,” over audio of a police interview which was broadcast at double murder trial of disgraced lawyer after being questioned about a photo of his son’s body.
The hearing ended on Monday before the defense could cross-examine the officer.
Earlier in the day, defense attorneys continued to question how state authorities collected and analyzed evidence in the shooting deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son.
Murdaugh, 54, is standing trial on two counts of murder in the shooting of his wife and son at their Colleton County home and hunting lodge on June 7, 2021. His wife, Maggie, 52, was shot multiple times with a musket; their son Paul, 22, was shot twice with a shotgun near the property’s kennels. Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
In the interview that aired Monday, Murdaugh spoke to the state agent at his brother’s house for about an hour three days after the killings. Murdaugh’s attorney was nearby.
Prosecutors interrupted the video multiple times to give the state’s Division of Law Enforcement Senior Special Agent Jeff Croft a chance to point out some of Murdaugh’s comments. At one point, Murdaugh said his wife was home hours before the murders when he and his son returned from a walk around the property. Later in the interview, Murdaugh could be heard saying “That’s so bad”, before the unclear comment Croft said made it sound like Murdaugh was implying he had killed his son.
In court, Murdaugh appeared to shake his head when Croft said what he heard.
Murdaugh also burst into tears on the 2021 taping after mentioning a small disagreement he had with his wife over her family’s visit.
“She was a wonderful daughter and a wonderful wife. And she was a wonderful mother,” Murdaugh said.
Monday began with the cross-examination of another state agent who testified at length about evidence collected from Murdaugh’s home and property.
As with previous testifying days, officers and crime scene technicians presented evidence to the jury that investigators will likely later explain in more detail. Prosecutors described their case as a puzzle in last week’s opening statement.
However, during cross-examination of witnesses, defense attorneys asked questions suggesting that the pieces of the metaphorical puzzle are unclear or that prosecutors are not putting them all on the table.
State Law Enforcement Division Special Agent Melinda Worley testified Friday about photographs of the bodies, shotgun pellets and DNA swabs from the scene, as well as clothing and fingernail clippings from autopsies.
During Monday’s cross-examination, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian delved into several items, including identifying footprints, one of Worley’s specialties. She told him that one of the footprints in the blood near where Murdaugh’s son was shot was from a deputy.
“Is it the preservation of the scene that your standards demand?” asked Harpootlian.
“Not exactly, no,” Worley replied.
Harpootlian also asked Worley to leave the stand and work on a rough diagram of the angles of the shots fired at Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, pointing out a significant disparity between the directions from which the shots were fired at each victim.
Worley said it could happen when a shooter was moving.
“One explanation would be movement. One explanation would be two shooters,” Harpootlian said.
Alex Murdaugh continued to rock and dab his eyes during more graphic testimony, including when Harpootlian showed a photo of his wife’s body to ask Worley if there might be a shoe print on his calf. woman who was not officially documented when examining the scene.
Worley said she couldn’t be sure.
Croft was one of the lead officers investigating the double murders and also testified about firearms, ammunition and spent shell casings collected from the Murdaughs’ home after the murders, showing at least four different shotguns and rifles to the jury and testifying that the Murdaughs kept the guns. loaded into their armory.
In his interview, Murdaugh told Croft that his son was unfocused and would stay with his family and friends across the state, leaving his belongings behind instead of bringing them home.
“He did this with clothes, he did this with guns, he did this with my boats,” Murdaugh said.
In their opening statement, prosecutors said the firearms that killed Paul and Maggie Murdaugh had not been found, but marks on casings found around the house may have been used for target practice. corresponding to casings found at the scene.
Alex Murdaugh also faces around 100 charges related to money laundering charges, steal millions clients and the family’s law firm, tax evasion and the attempt to get a man to shoot him to death so that his surviving son could receive a $10 million life insurance policy. He was being held without bail on those charges before being charged with murder.
Since the murders, Murdaugh’s life has gone downhill incredibly quickly. His family dominated the court system in the tiny neighboring county of Hampton for generations, both as prosecutors and private attorneys known for securing life-changing settlements for accidents and negligence cases.