Alex Murdaugh’s defense grilled the first cop on the double murder scene Thursday about why he failed to report tire tracks and footprints discovered at the property.
The disgraced attorney, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at their sprawling hunting lodge to gain sympathy and distract attention away from his damning financial crimes.
The prosecution’s first witness Sgt. Daniel Green told jurors that when he arrived at the lodge on the night of June 7, 2021, he found Maggie and Paul face down in pools of blood. Both victims had been shot in the head.
Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian questioned Green about preserving the crime scene, asking why the officer failed to take photos of tire tracks or footprints, or put anything on his feet to preserve blood and brain spattered on the ground.
Green, who said he saw multiple tire tracks incompatible with the number of vehicles at the hunting lodge, admitted that he did not he did not take photos of the tracks or footprints at the scene. He said he did not inform SLED (state law enforcement) about the evidence because it was ‘not part of my job description.’
The officer earlier showed jurors a shotgun he discovered at the scene which he secured in his patrol car because Murdaugh appeared ‘upset and anxious.’
Green said that as he approached Murdaugh his ‘immediate reaction was to start telling me about his son – about a boating accident.’ At the time of his death, Paul was facing trial for driving a boat under the influence of alcohol which crashed, killing a 19-year-old woman.
The prosecution’s first witness Sgt. Daniel Green shows the shotgun that he found at the scene which he took into his vehicle as Murdaugh appeared ‘upset and anxious’
Murdaugh wept as the body-worn footage was played, bobbing back and forth and biting his lip.
Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh in a photo posted by Maggie online for Father’s Day in 2020.
Buster Murdaugh, Alex’s sole surviving son, listens to the harrowing evidence Thursday
Alex Murdaugh pictured with his wife Maggie and their two sons Paul (left) and Buster
Murdaugh claimed that he had been visiting his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s and arrived home to find Maggie and Paul dead near the estate’s dog kennels. But prosecutors say phone pings will show Murdaugh was at the property that night.
Green said that he could not see any blood on Murdaugh and although he appeared upset, he did not see any tears either. Murdaugh sounded lucid as the officer questioned him and is even heard casually greeting a fireman arriving on the scene, saying: ‘How ya doin?’
During cross examination, Green attempted to skewer Green about why he did not make a record of or notify investigators about foot prints and tire tracks in the wet grass. The defense theory is that somebody else killed Murdaugh’s wife and son while he was on a different part of the property.
‘If you are standing in the spot and there was evidence there and tire tracks that evidence could help incriminate somebody or exculpate somebody. That is why you do not do these things, correct?’ Harpootlian asked.
Green replied: ‘That’s why you do not contaminate the evidence, correct.’
‘He [Murdaugh] talked about the tire tracks coming and going, and he told you those weren’t his tire tracks correct,’ Harpootlian said.
Green confirmed the defendant did say that.
Green stated that when he arrived he could see Murdaugh at the end of the driveway. He had sped over in his patrol car after Murdaugh called 911.
‘As I was approaching towards [Murdaugh] I could see the male lying on the ground to my left, and the female victim to my right.
‘There was a large deal of blood that had pooled around his body, same for the female victim, also a lot of blood pooled around the body.’
Green added that there was ‘a large amount of blood, as well as brain matter.’
The cop said there was also what appeared to be a large volume of water around the bodies, despite the fact it was not raining when he arrived.
Murdaugh bowed his head forward as the body-worn footage was played, bobbing back and forth and biting his lip.
The officer said he secured the shotgun, a Benelli Super Black Eagle 12-gauge, that was lying on the ground – taking it to his vehicle. He noted that shotgun shells were strewn across the driveway.
He said he also noticed a number of tire tracks in the wet grass, more than could be explained by the vehicles at the scene. Murdaugh says he only came in and out of the property in a single vehicle.
Green said he lifted Paul’s body as he continued to investigate the scene. Officers were working to rule out the possibility that Paul shot his mother before killing himself. Green said he noticed there were rifle rounds, .300 blackout cases, surrounding Maggie’s body, but did not appear to be many around Paul’s body.
In the footage a deputy can be heard remarking that there could not be a gun under Paul’s body ‘unless it’s the shortest .300 Blackout that’s ever been made.’
The prosecution case is that Murdaugh shot his son first with a shotgun before shooting Maggie with the AR-15-style rifle. The rifle has never been found.
In the body cam footage, Murdaugh is heard telling the cop he had been visiting his mother with late stage Alzheimer’s. He said Maggie and Paul had been at the kennels when he left, but they were not back home when he came back.
He said Maggie was not answering her phone and that when he arrived at the kennels to check on them he found their bodies.
At one point Murdaugh is heard asking the cop whether he had checked his wife and son. ‘Did you check them?’ Murdaugh says.
The cop replies, telling him that paramedics are on their way.
‘What are they doing? Can they hurry?’ Murdaugh asks.
Speaking to the prosecutor, Green said any reasonable person would have assumed the victims were dead at the scene.
The body cam picked up Murdaugh calling his brother Randy on the phone, telling them Maggie and Paul are both dead.
Then a fire rescue officer walks by and Murdaugh pauses to greet him, saying: ‘How ya’ doin?’
In the recording Murdaugh earlier told Green: ‘[Paul’s] been getting threats most of it’s been benign stuff – we didn’t take serious.
‘He’s been getting punched. I know that’s what it is about.’
Green told the court that he had not asked Murdaugh about any boating accident.
Murdaugh bowed his head and wept during the evidence, left, and at other times appeared somber, right
Murdaugh claimed that he had been visiting his elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s and arrived home to find Maggie and Paul dead near the estate’s dog kennels.
A shed near the dog kennels at Moselle Hunting Lodge where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were gunned down
Murdaugh is seen being let out of the steel cage inside a black prison van by sheriffs in Walterboro Thursday morning
Buster Murdaugh, Alex’s sole surviving son, arrived at court Thursday with his girlfriend Brooklynn White. He is expected to testify against his father later in the trial
Murdaugh arrived at court Thursday wearing a white shirt and with his blazer draped over his wrists – concealing the handcuffs binding them – as sheriffs escorted him inside.
The prosecution called its first witness Sgt. Daniel Green this morning – one of the first officers who arrived at the scene. His body-worn camera footage will also be shown.
The camo shotgun which Green discovered at the scene was later given to investigators.
Green stated that he did not unload or modify the weapon before turning it over.
Murdaugh smiled as he arrived at court Thursday wearing a white shirt and with his blazer draped over his wrists – concealing the handcuffs binding them – as sheriffs escorted him inside.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters yesterday told jurors the body-worn footage and recordings of Murdaugh from the night will play a key role in the trial.
‘Watch those closely. Watch his expressions. Listen to what he’s saying and what he’s not saying,’ the prosecutor said.
Murdaugh wept during yesterday’s opening as jurors heard how he first blasted Paul with buckshot before picking up an AR-15-style rifle to shoot his wife Maggie twice in the head.
The defendant’s own attorney seized on the evidence of the brutality of these ‘executions’ to claim it was simply ‘not believable’ his client carried them out.
Murdaugh’s only surviving son Buster, 25 – who is set to testify against his father – sat behind him as the horrifying evidence was laid out, staring into his back.
Buster arrived at court Thursday with his girlfriend Brooklynn White.
Alex’s brother John Marvin – who is also set to testify against him – also arrived this morning.
Murdaugh allegedly called John Marvin the night of the murders, and used that call as part of his alibi.
Murdaugh’s attorneys are yet to submit an alibi to jury, but in November they filed papers with the court claiming he was visiting his elderly mother at the time of the murders.
His Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, 83, is now reportedly on her deathbed and is not on either side’s witness list.
Buster arrived at court Thursday with his girlfriend Brooklynn White
The trial is taking place at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a sleepy, rural town 50 miles west of Charleston in a low-lying region of South Carolina over which the Murdaugh family has wielded immense judicial and political power.
Indeed, in the courtroom where Murdaugh faces judgment a portrait of his late grandfather – legendary longtime 14th Circuit Solicitor Buster Murdaugh Jr. – had hung on the wall before it was removed ahead of the trial.
Prosecutor Waters described how Murdaugh shot Paul in the feed room of their hunting property at around 8.50pm – first with buckshot in the chest and shoulder, then a second shot to head, causing catastrophic damage.
He said moments later Murdaugh picked up an AR-15 style rifle loaded with with .300 Blackout ammunition, shot his wife Maggie twice in the lower body, then twice in the head, killing her.
Waters added that the victims never saw it coming.
‘They were shot at close range and they did not have defensive wounds,’ Waters told jurors.
Murdaugh claims he was not there and at the family’s dog kennels when the murders happened.
But Waters said data from ‘cell phones are going to show otherwise.’
The prosecutor stressed that phone records will be critical in the case and the jury will hear that the Murdaughs were ‘prolific’ cell phone users.
Waters added that bodycam footage and audio records of statements from the night of the murders will play a key role in the trial.
‘Watch those closely. Watch his expressions. Listen to what he’s saying and what he’s not saying,’ the prosecutor said.
Waters said Maggie was killed by a ‘family weapon’. He cited evidence from a ballistics expert who said .300 Blackout casings found throughout the property have matching tool mark patterns. The prosecutor said that a Blackout rifle owned by the family has never been located.
Attorney Jim Griffin speaks with Alex Murdaugh as he tears up on Wednesday
Alex Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin Murdaugh (left) and his wife Liz Murdaugh, and Alex’s son Buster Murdaugh (right) with his girlfriend Brooklynn White on Wednesday
Alex Murdaugh talks with his lawyer Dick Harpootlian during his double murder trial
Murdaugh with his wife Maggie and sons Paul (left) and Buster
THE KILLINGS AND EVIDENCE
Murdaugh, 54, told police he found Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, dead outside their Colleton County home on June 7, 2021. He said he’d been gone for an hour to visit his ailing father and mother.
Authorities released little information about the killings beyond saying that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh with a shotgun.
Prosecutors have not detailed direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the deaths. So far, they have filed no confession or witness statements about the killings with the court and there is no evidence that either gun has been found.
Video from Paul Murdaugh’s phone timestamped not long before the killings shows the three talking without indication of anger. Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers said he has never denied being at his home.
There is DNA from the victims on Alex Murdaugh’s shirt, but his defense said that came from checking for signs of life when he found their bodies.
The defense and prosecution are fighting over whether to allow an expert to testify that the blood splattered onto Murdaugh´s shirt when his son was shot. Defense lawyers contend the expert testing the shirt is lying and destroyed it before the defense could conduct its own tests.
Prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on evidence of Murdaugh’s financial problems, which they said led him to kill to garner sympathy and buy time as he covered up his theft of clients’ settlement money and other crimes.
Murdaugh’s attorneys contend it is absurd to say Murdaugh would have thought his wife and son dying violently would reduce scrutiny into his finances.
Waters added that a raincoat with gunshot residue was found at Murdaugh’s mother’s home following the killings. He also said the residue was discovered on the seat belt of his car.
Waters concluded the opening by telling jurors they were assessing a complicated case and there would be a long trial ahead, but that once the ‘puzzle pieces’ start coming together – the ‘building storm’ will lead them to the inescapable conclusion that Murdaugh killed his wife and son.
‘(Alex) was the storm, the storm was coming for them, just like the storms are coming here right now, and the storm arrived on June 7, 2021. They died as a result,’ the prosecutor said.
In his defense, Harpootlian said that Murdaugh’s son Paul was the ‘apple of his eye’ and dismissed the prosecutor’s claims as conjecture.
He described a Snapchat video taken by Paul an hour before the killings showing the father and son.
‘They’re laughing, they’re having a good time,’ Harpootlian said.
Harpootlian said the shot that hit Paul in chest also struck his arm, indicating that he may have been holding his arms up when he was killed.
Harpootlian said that prosecutors were merely speculating when they said there were no defensive wounds.
He described how ‘the gasses from that [second] shot literally exploded his head, like a watermelon hit with a sledgehammer.’
‘All that was left was the front of his face, everything else was gone. His brain exploded out of his head. It hit the ceiling in the shed and dropped to his feet. Horrific. Horrible. Butchering,’ Harpootlian said.
‘So to find Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his son you have to accept that within an hour of having an extraordinarily bonding… you can see it in the Snapchat – that he executes him in a brutal fashion. Not believable.’
He then went on to describe how there were no defensive wounds on Maggie because she was shot while running away – contrary to the prosecutor’s claims she was caught unawares when she was killed.
‘Who was Maggie running from?’, Harpootlian asked.
The defense lawyer said his client was hysterical and inconsolable when he called 911 after finding Maggie and Paul.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh was so ‘traumatized’ after finding the pair that he loaded wrong-sized shells into a shotgun while fearing their killer was still ‘out there.’
He argued it was implausible that Murdaugh used two weapons to kill Maggie and Paul, saying it as much more likely the murders were carried out by two people.
Harpootlian also questioned why no bloody clothes had been found, giving the gruesome way and close-range nature of the shootings.
‘Where are the bloody clothes?’ he asked.
Harpootlian concluded: ‘He didn’t do it.’
Murdaugh, right, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Maggie, second from left, and Paul, second from right, in June — but now his surviving son, Buster, left, is expected to testify against him
The Murdaugh name is well-known in judicial circles in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Alex Murdaugh worked for the family law firm that had been in business in tiny neighboring Hampton County for a century, winning a number of multimillion-dollar settlements for fatal accidents and workplace injuries.
Murdaugh´s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the elected prosecutors for 87 years straight in Colleton, Hampton and three other counties.
Typically, a portrait of Murdaugh’s father hangs in the Colleton County Courthouse. Judge Clifton Newman ruled that it be removed for his son’s trial.
Following the opening statements by both legal teams, Judge Clifton Newman adjourned the case to 9.30am Thursday when jurors will see body-worn camera video.
Murdaugh is being tried by a jury of four white men, six white women and two black women.
Deciding against the death penalty, state prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole.
Prosecutors have said Murdaugh killed his wife and child to generate sympathy and distract from his financial crimes, an alleged motive that Murdaugh’s lawyers have argued doesn’t make sense.
But he has adamantly insisted from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times that he was not the killer.
Following the murder trial, Murdaugh will have to face more than 100 additional criminal charges, ranging from drug trafficking to allegations that he stole nearly $9 million from clients and other attorneys.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh lured his wife and son to their 1,700-acre hunting lodge and shot them dead.
The court also claims that his life was spiraling out of control amid years of opioid addiction and ballooning debts.
Murdaugh pleaded not guilty in June, and the blockbuster trial is expected to include wild allegations of dark family secrets, financial ruin and hedonistic excess.
In total, over 220 people could testify against Murdaugh in the trial, it was revealed Tuesday.
TIMELINE OF MURDAUGH FAMILY MURDERS, DEATHS, LAWSUITS AND ARRESTS
Police investigating the double murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
July 8, 2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head.
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay.
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen.
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
February 2, 2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500,000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
February 23, 2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
One of the six teens on board testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
The boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed Beach from the boat.
June 7, 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mother and son were found shot dead at the family home in Islandton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
It was later revealed Alex waited an hour to call 911 about their deaths.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10, 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
Alex Murdaugh’s alibi for the night of his wife and son’s murder was that he was visiting his ailing father in the hospital.
The father died just three days later, following a battle with cancer.
September 3, 2021: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts.
September 4, 2021: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother.
September 6, 2021: Alex resigns from law firm
In a statement he says: ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’
September 14, 2021: Police arrest alleged hitman in Alex’s shooting
Police said Alex Murdaugh orchestrated his own shooting in a botched assisted suicide scheme, designed so his surviving son can collect a $10 million life insurance payment.
Curtis Edward Smith, 61, was arrested on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith, from Walterboro, South Carolina, is a former client of Murdaugh, who represented him in minor traffic matters as well as a 2015 lawsuit that Smith filed against a forest management company.
According to police, Murdaugh paid him to shoot him in the head and kill him, making it look like a random, drive-by attack.
September 15, 2021: Police open criminal investigation into Satterfield’s 2018 death
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced it is investigating the 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield and the subsequent handling of her estate.
Satterfield, 57, had been the Murdaugh housekeeper and nanny for around 25 years when she suffered a fatal brain injury following a mystery fall inside the Murdaugh family home.
She died several weeks later on February 26, 2018.
SLED said that hit had opened a criminal investigation inter Satterfield’s death based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner, as well as ‘information gathered during the course of our other ongoing investigations involving Alex Murdaugh.’
September 16, 2021: Alex turns himself into police over insurance fraud scheme
Murdaugh handed himself over to police in connection to the insurance fraud scheme, where he arranged his own killing so that his surviving son could collect $10 million payout.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
November 29, 2021: Murdaugh faces 27 new counts after an indictment for an alleged $4.8 million in financial crimes
Murdaugh was indicted on 27 additional charges, with prosecutors saying he stole nearly $5million in settlement money he had obtained for his dead housekeeper, an injured state trooper and other people, as well as fees meant for his law firm.
December 6, 2021: Satterfield’s family sues Bank of America for allowing Murdaugh to stash life insurance money meant for them
The bank was added as a defendant in the lawsuit against Murdaugh, who is accused of bilking the sons of Gloria Ann Satterfield out of life insurance money after the housekeeper’s mysterious death.
Statterfield’s sons say the bank looked the other way when it allowed Murdaugh to set up a fake account and transfer the insurance payouts to himself and a cousin.
June 28, 2022: Alex Murdaugh and Curtis Smith are charged with drug trafficking
Murdaugh is accused of writing 437 checks worth $2.4 million that Curtis Smith – the man he hired to murder him – cashed over eight years, until September 2021.
Smith kept some of the money for himself and used the rest for wide-ranging illegal activities, according to indictments unsealed on June 28.
That illegal activity included a ‘distribution network’ for the painkiller oxycodone, according to prosecutors.
Both men were charged with possessing, manufacturing or distributing narcotics.
Russell Lafitte, the former Palmetto State Bank CEO, is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and misapplication of bank funds for allegedly helping Murdaugh steal money from his client’s settlements
July 21, 2022: Palmetto State Bank CEO is charged with bank fraud for ‘helping Murdaugh steal money from his clients’
A federal grand jury indicted Russell Lafitte, the former Palmetto State Bank CEO, for allegedly conspiring with Murdaugh to steal $8.5 million from his client’s settlements.
He is charged with bank fraud, wire fraud and misapplication of bank funds.
November 8, 2022: Lafitte faces federal trial
Lafitte’s federal trial on the bank fraud charges began November 8.
The Associated Press reported that defense lawyers, Bart Daniel and Matt Austin, argue Murdaugh manipulated people and lied to Lafitte.
They say he was just a pawn following Murdaugh’s instructions and didn’t willfully participate in the alleged fraud.