Alex Murdaugh continues to claim wife and son were murdered because of 2019 boat wreck
Alex Murdaugh has claimed that he still believes his wife and son were murdered by unknown assailants because of the 2019 fatal boat wreck.
The embattled legal scion on Friday told jurors his theory about the killer’s motive for shooting dead Maggie and Paul as he continued to protest his innocence of any involvement in the 7 June 2021 slayings.
“I believe that boat wreck is the reason why PawPaw and Maggie were killed,” he said.
Mr Murdaugh insisted that he “never, never, never thought” the survivors of the boat crash or the families of them or victim Mallory Beach played any part in the murders – but that a random person say the negative media reports and social media posts about the wreck and decided to act.
“The social media response that came from that was vile. The things that were said about what they would do to PawPaw, they were so over the top,” he said.
“I believed then and I believe today that 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.”
Breaking down in tears again, he said: “And that is the only, only reason that somebody could be mad at PawPaw like that and hate him like that.”
He added: “That’s why I did then believe [it was because of] the boat wreck and why I do now believe it’s the boat wreck.”
Prosecutors claim that the person with that so-called “anger in their heart” was Mr Murdaugh – and that he killed his wife and son because his life was falling apart from a string of financial crimes and scandals.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters scoffed at Mr Murdaugh’s theory of a “random vigilante” acting over the boat wreck – bringing up the defence’s previous theory that the shooter was just 5’2”.
He also pointed out that there was no evidence to support the accused killer’s theory.
“So what you’re telling this jury is it’s a random vigilante, the 12 year-old 5’2” people that just happen to know that Paul and Maggie were both at Moselle on June 7, that knew they’d be at the kennels alone on June 7, knew that you would not be there but only between the times of 8.49pm and 9.02pm,” he said.
“That they show up without a weapon assuming they’re going to find weapons and ammunition there.
“That they commit this crime during that short time window and then they travel the same exact route that you do around the same time to Almeda?”
Mr Murdaugh said he didn’t agree with all of the prosecutor’s question: “You got a lot of factors in there Mr Waters all of which I do not agree with, some of which I do.”
At the time of the murders, Paul was awaiting trial over the death of Mallory Beach, 19.
One night in February 2019, Paul was allegedly drunk driving the Murdaugh’s boat and crashed it, throwing his friends overboard.
The others survived but Beach’s body washed ashore a week later.
Paul was charged with multiple felonies over the boat wreck and was facing 25 years in prison at the time of his murder.
Mr Murdaugh was also being sued by Beach’s family and a lawsuit hearing was scheduled for 10 June 2021.
Their attorney had also filed a motion to compel, which prosecutors say would have exposed Mr Murdaugh’s ruinous finances.
Mr Murdaugh was also investigated by a grand jury investigation into allegations he tried to influence witnesses in the boat crash.
During cross-examination on Thursday, Mr Waters showed jurors a surveillance image of Mr Murdaugh at the hospital where the other teenagers were taken.
He was wearing his soliticor’s badge hanging out of his pocket in the image –something he admitted he may have done to get a “warmer” response from police that night.
Mr Murdaugh denied telling the survivors not to cooperate with law enforcement and said he wasn’t sure why he had his badge on him.
“I never told anybody not to cooperate with law enforcement,” he insisted.
“Did I pull my badge out when I went in the room with those kids? I know I did not do that.”
Mr Murdaugh’s theory on the murders came during his second day on the witness stand where he was grilled by Mr Waters.
Under cross-examination, Mr Murdaugh was confronted by his lies about the night of the murders.
The testy exchange came as Mr Waters confronted the accused killer about his sudden and dramatic change in alibi for the night of the murders – which came only after jurors were shown a bombshell video placing him at the scene of the murders and more than half a dozen witnesses identified his voice in the footage.
Mr Murdaugh shocked the court during on Thursday when he confessed for the first time that he had lied about not going to the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul that night.
He blamed his opioids addiction for giving him “paranoid thinking” and his distrust of SLED which together led him to lie to law enforcement agents, family members and friends on multiple occasions and for the past 20 months.
“On June 7, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I don’t think I was capable of reason. And I lied about being down there. And I’m so sorry that I did,” he said, his eyes brimming up with tears.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave. Once I told the lie, and I told my family, I had to keep lying,” he testified.
This marked the first time that Mr Murdaugh has ever confessed publicly or to law enforcement that he had lied.
During a tense cross-examination, Mr Murdaugh was confronted about his “new story” which came after 20 months of lying to officials, friends and family members.
The prosecutor pointed out that this confession only came after jurors saw Paul’s damning cellphone video which places him at the scene of the murders with his wife and son at 8.44pm and after multiple witnesses had identified his voice in the footage.
Prosecutors say that Maggie and Paul were killed minutes after the video was taken at around 8.50pm. Data suggests they last used their cellphones at 8.49pm.
Mr Waters accused Mr Murdaugh of only turning to this “new story” because he had been backed into a corner and had no way of disputing the evidence placing him at the murder scene.
“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 of your life,” Mr Waters said.
“The second you’re confronted with facts you can’t deny, you immediately come up with a new lie. Isn’t that correct?”
He continued: “You’ve done that over and over again. The second you’re confronted with facts you can’t deny you confront them with a new lie?”
Mr Murdaugh denied this and instead gave a bizarre explanation for not coming forward with the truth earlier.
The disbarred attorney sought to blame the prosecution for his lies rumbling on until his trial testimony, claiming that he tried to tell the truth – but that the state would not speak to him.
“I didn’t have the opportunity to [tell law enforcement the truth] as you did not respond to my invitations to explain what I did wrong,” he said.
He claimed that his attorneys had contacted the prosecutor’s office “multiple” times but never got a response .
In a dramatic moment – laced with objections from the defence – Mr Waters pointed out that Mr Murdaugh’s own attorneys were not apparently aware of his change in story either.
Jurors heard how – at a time when Mr Murdaugh claims he wanted to come clean – his attorneys did a national TV interview in November last year “repeating your own lies” about his alibi.
Prosecutors claim Mr Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from his string of alleged financial crimes – at a time when his multi-million-dollar fraud scheme was on the brink of being exposed.
Jurors heard four weeks of dramatic testimony from the prosecution, covering a trove of circumstantial evidence, including cellphone and car data and numerous apparent holes in his alibi for the time for the murders.
The defence meanwhile is seeking to present the alleged killer and financial fraudster as a loving family man who would never have murdered his wife and son. Defence experts have testified about mistakes in the preservation of crime scene evidence and claimed Maggie’s shooter was 5’2” tall – not 6’4” like Mr Murdaugh.
Beyond the murders, the brutal double murders brought to light a series of scandals surrounding Mr Murdaugh including unexplained deaths, the multi-million-dollar fraud scheme and the botched hitman plot.
Days on from the murders of Maggie and Paul, an investigtion was then reopened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County.
The openly gay teenager, 19, had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.
An investigation was also reopened into another mystery death connected to the Murdaugh family – that of the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
She died in 2018 in a mystery trip and fall accident at the family home. Mr Murdaugh then allegedly stole around $4m in a wrongful death settlement from her sons.
The 54-year-old is facing life in prison on the murder charges.