Alex Murdaugh can’t remember last conversation with wife and son – minutes before murders
Alex Murdaugh has claimed he can’t remember the last conversation he ever had with his wife Maggie and son Paul – just minutes before they were gunned down by the kennels on the family’s hunting estate.
The disgraced attorney was confronted by prosecutor Creighton Waters on the witness stand on Friday morning about his “new story” about the 7 June 2021 murders.
In a bombshell move, Mr Murdaugh has now admitted that he was at the kennels with his wife and son that night, confirming it is him in a video Paul took at 8.44pm – just six minutes before prosecutors say the shootings unfolded at 8.50pm.
When asked what he did at the kennels, he said that he was “talking to Mags”.
According to his version of events, this was the last time he ever saw his wife and son alive.
Yet, he was unable to recall what their final conversation was about.
“I don’t remember the exact details of what we talked about,” he said.
Under further prompting from the prosecutor, Mr Murdaugh said that Maggie was “very concerned” about Paul and so he believes they may have spoken about that.
He also said he believes he spoke to Paul was not sure what about.
“You remember a lot of detail about these new facts, but you don’t remember what you talked about?” Mr Waters questioned.
He also confirmed he did not tell his wife and son he was going to go to visit his mother minutes after leaving the kennels.
He also couldn’t recall his final words to his wife and son. “I can’t tell you what those were, but it would have been something to the effect of: I’m leaving,” he said.
Despite his inability to recollect the conversation, he said he was not withdrawing from opioids at that time.
The testy exchange came after Mr Murdaugh shocked the court during on Thursday when he confessed for the first time that he had lied about his alibi on the night of the murders.
As soon as he got on the witness stand, the disgraced attorney had admitted that he had lied about not going to the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul on the night of the murders.
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.
This confession comes after jurors have seen Paul’s damning cellphone video which places him at the scene of the murders with his wife and son at 8.44pm. Multiple witnesses had identified his voice in the footage.
Prosecutors say that Maggie and Paul were killed minutes later at 8.50pm. Data suggests they last used their cellphones at 8.49pm.
While Mr Murdaugh confessed to lying, he continued to insist his innocence of the murders.
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.
Mr Murdaugh said that after dinner that night Maggie had asked him to go to the kennels with her but he didn’t want to go because he would get hot and sweaty.
He said he “very quickly” changed his mind “because Maggie wanted me to” so took a golf cart down to the kennels – to find Maggie and Paul already there.
He claimed that he must have been there a few minutes before Paul took the cellphone video at 8.44pm – as his son was in the driveway when he arrived and not in the kennels where he shot the video.
Mr Murdaugh was grilled about what he did while was there, claiming he sat on the golf cart most of the time before getting off briefly to wrestle a chicken from the mouth of Maggie’s dog Bubba.
He claimed he had been there “a couple minutes” before the chicken incident – and therefore Paul’s video.
In another bombshell comment, Mr Murdaugh insisted that there can’t have been anyone else around the three of them at that time or the family’s dogs would have reacted.
“There was nobody around that the dogs didn’t know,” he said.
After getting the chicken from the dog, he said he quickly left, “because it was chaotic, it was hot”.
“I was getting ready to do exactly what I didn’t want to do. I was getting ready to sweat. I was getting ready to work,” he said.
Pressed about the specific time that he left, Mr Murdaugh estimated that he likely left around 8.47pm.
With the drive back up to the house in the golf cart taking a couple of minutes, Mr Waters pointed out that he would have got there at around 8.49pm.
Data indicates that Maggie and Paul last used their cellphones at 8.49pm and were shot dead around 8.50pm.
Mr Murdaugh testified that he didn’t hear any gunshots. He sat down on the couch and then minutes later got up and drove to his mother’s house.
The prosecutor questioned the speed with which Mr Murdaugh jetted back and forth between the house, the kennels and the house again, per his version of events.
“Does that sound like real life to you?” he said. “You jetted down to the kennels, you dealt with the chicken, and you jetted back.”
The prosecutor grilled Mr Murdaugh about how he seems to have a “photographic memory” on some details but is “fuzzy” on other things.
He pointed out that on Thursday Mr Murdaugh recalled a precise moment where he stopped in his mother’s driveway for a minute. He testified that he stopped to get his phone which had dropped down to the ground.
Prosecutors have suggested he was disposing of murder weapons or bloody clothes at that time.
After returning home, he claims he drove to the kennels to find Maggie and Paul shot dead.
While he has now confessed to lying, Mr Murdaugh continues to deny murdering his wife and son.
“I did not shoot my wife or my son any time, ever,” he insisted on Thursday, breaking down in tears on multiple occasions as he recounted finding the bloody scene that night.
“My boy was lying face down... I could see his brain laying on the sidewalk. I didn’t know what to do,” he said of Paul’s body.
Mr Murdaugh also confessed to stealing money from his law firm and to orchestrating a bizarre botched hitman plot – two other crimes for which he is facing around 100 charges.
Mr Murdaugh again blamed his opioid addiction for his alleged financial crimes.
Mr Murdaugh’s intense cross-examination began on Thursday afternoon, after he made the last-ditch decision to take the stand in his high-stakes murder trial.
In bombshell testimony, he instantly confessed to lying about his alibi on the night of the murders – but continued to insist he was innocent of killing Maggie and Paul.
While the lengthy cross grew increasingly combative, the prosecutor did not bring the 7 June 2021 killings up during the afternoon’s exchange – paving the way for what is expected to be a major confrontation over the murders on Friday.
Instead, Mr Waters grilled Mr Murdaugh about his alleged attempts to influence the boat crash investigation through the power of his legal badge and his schemes stealing millions of dollars of settlement money from “real people” including a quadriplegic and two young girls.
In the cross, Mr Waters reeled off a list of “real people” who had suffered extensive injuries or losses – and were then swindled by the now-disbarred attorney.
In one case, Mr Murdaugh stole $6m from Hakeem Pinckney, a man who became a quadruplegic after a car crash.
The cross grew increasingly heated as Mr Waters delved into the financial crimes with Mr Murdaugh repeatedly returning to what the prosecutor said was a rehearsed line.
“How many times did you practice that answer before your testimony today?” he asked.
Mr Murdaugh fired back: “I’ve never practiced that answer.”
He also sparred with the prosecutor over the prominence of the Murdaugh family in Hampton County with Mr Murdaugh admitting that people likely saw him as a successful lawyer and that he and his family were prominent in the local legal circles.
They had “a lot of friends in law enforcement,” he said, but he insisted that they did not see themselves as “big shots”.
He also admitted that he “may” have used his solicitor’s badge to curry favour with law enforcement – including on the night of the 2019 fatal boat crash.
One night in February 2019, Paul was allegedly drunk driving a boat carrying his friends and crashed it, throwing then overboard.
Most of the group survived but the body of Mallory Beach, 19, washed ashore a week later. Paul was charged with multiple felonies over the boat wreck while the Beach family sued Mr Murdaugh.
The court was shown a surveillance image of Mr Murdaugh at the hospital where the other teenagers were taken. He is wearing his soliticor’s badge hanging out of his pocket.
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 – but “may” have done so to get a “warmer” response from police that night.
“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 was later the focus of a grand jury investigation into allegations he tried to meddle in the boat crash case and influence witnesses. He admitted he learned about it sometime before the murders.
The jury also learned how he fitted blue police lights in his vehicle – even though he was never a member of law enforcement – and carried the solicitor badge in his car – even though he was only ever a volunteer at the office.
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.