September 26, 2023
Alex Murdaugh was ‘destroyed’ by deadly shootings of spouse and son, surviving son testifies at double homicide trial


Alex Murdaugh was “destroyed” by the deadly shootings of his spouse and son, his surviving son testified in his father’s double homicide trial Tuesday, because the protection labored to counter prosecutors’ allegations that Murdaugh is liable for the killings.

“He was heartbroken. I walked within the door and noticed him, gave him a hug,” Buster Murdaugh mentioned of seeing his father within the hours after he realized his mom, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and youthful brother, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, had been fatally shot. Alex Murdaugh was “simply damaged down,” Buster mentioned, including his father was crying and couldn’t actually converse.

Buster Murdaugh was the third witness known as by the protection, which started its case Friday after prosecutors known as greater than 60 witnesses to bolster their argument Alex Murdaugh, 54, killed his spouse and son on the household’s Islandton property on June 7, 2021, in an try and distract from his alleged monetary crimes, which have been being quickly uncovered and for which he now faces 99 costs individually from the murders.

Alex Murdaugh has pleaded not responsible to 2 counts of homicide and two weapons costs within the killings, and the protection has painted Murdaugh as a loving father and husband being wrongfully accused after what it says has been a poorly dealt with investigation.

Within the final three weeks of the trial, prosecutors have tried to beat the shortage of any direct proof – akin to an eyewitness – tying Murdaugh to the killings. As a substitute, their case has relied closely on circumstantial proof that they are saying exhibits Murdaugh lied to investigators and was on the scene simply minutes earlier than the killings.

Alex Murdaugh was ‘destroyed’ by deadly shootings of spouse and son, surviving son testifies at double homicide trial

His protection attorneys have criticized the prosecutors’ case as speculative and waved off their concentrate on his alleged monetary schemes as irrelevant.

The protection used Buster Murdaugh on Tuesday to undermine the testimony of a state witness who informed the court docket late final month he believed Alex Murdaugh inadvertently confessed to finishing up the murders whereas chatting with investigators.

The witness, South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division Particular Agent Jeff Croft, mentioned he believed Murdaugh mentioned “I did him so dangerous” in reference to Paul’s physique throughout an emotional interview with investigators on June 10, 2021.

Croft didn’t observe up in regards to the assertion, nonetheless, and the protection maintained Murdaugh as a substitute mentioned, “They did him so dangerous” – a declare Buster backed up Tuesday.

The tape of the June 10, 2021, interview was not the primary time he’d heard his father say, “They did him so dangerous,” Buster mentioned.

“The primary time I heard him say that was the evening that I went right down to Moselle,” he mentioned, referring to the Islandton property, “the evening of June the seventh.”

“Did he say that a couple of time?” protection lawyer Jim Griffin requested.

“He did,” Buster mentioned.

The protection additionally sought to counter the testimony of a caretaker for Murdaugh’s mom, who testified for the state that Murdaugh visited his mom’s residence in Almeda the evening of the killings between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. The caretaker, Mushell “Shelly” Smith, cared for Murdaugh’s mom from 8 p.m. to eight a.m. and testified late evening visits have been uncommon.

However the household adopted no set schedule when visiting his grandparents, which his father did usually.

“It might have been any time. We went over at lunch a variety of occasions, went over within the evenings so much, simply no actual set schedule,” Buster mentioned. “Simply sort of mosey on over there.”

Earlier than his dying, Paul Murdaugh was being bullied on social media and in public for his alleged involvement in a February 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Seaside, Buster Murdaugh testified, describing social media messages his brother obtained and confrontations in bars.

Paul had pleaded not responsible to costs in connection to the accident, and court docket data present the costs have been dropped after his dying.

Individuals have been sending Paul messages in regards to the crash, Buster mentioned, and “a variety of occasions he’d be strolling down the sidewalk and, , a automobile comes by and they might yell some stuff at him.”

“I knew he would exit at a bar and there’s any person that desires to speak about it, make a scuff about it,” Buster mentioned.

The accident and the following backlash from the group “sort of consumed” his 52-year-old mom, Buster mentioned.

“She (was) massive on studying all of it. And when she learn the detrimental stuff, , (it) made her really feel upset and whatnot, and it in the end sort of precipitated her to distance herself from Hampton,” the place the household had lengthy lived, he mentioned. Maggie felt individuals on the town have been “observing her and speaking about her,” Buster mentioned, and he or she stopped going to the grocery shops and pharmacy there.

Alex Murdaugh was sued by Seaside’s household after the boat crash, and prosecutors pointed to the lawsuit as a possible catalyst for the killings: Witnesses who testified for the state described a listening to in that case, set to happen three days after the deadly shootings, which might have revealed the state of Murdaugh’s funds and his alleged misdeeds. The listening to was canceled after the killings.

However Alex Murdaugh by no means appeared “overly anxious” in regards to the civil case, Buster mentioned Tuesday. The prison case in opposition to Paul was the precedence, he mentioned, as a result of “none of us thought that he was driving the boat” on the time of the accident.

The protection appeared to counsel final week that the killings may very well be associated to a monetary dispute with a drug gang, saying Murdaugh was shopping for $50,000 price of medication every week from a person who was in important debt to a gang.

Alex Murdaugh cries while listening to his son, Buster Murdaugh, testify during his trial Tuesday.

Murdaugh’s legal professionals have beforehand acknowledged he struggles with an opioid dependancy and prosecutors introduced proof Friday displaying Paul confronted his father a couple of stash of tablets a month earlier than he and his mom have been killed.

Buster testified Tuesday he “knew just a little bit about” his father’s drug use, saying he was conscious that his brother and mom had discovered tablets. He described a number of efforts by his father to handle his dependancy, together with going to a detox facility round Christmas in 2018.

Buster “thought that that dealt with it,” however there have been “a pair extra occasions” his brother and mom would discover extra tablets.

Buster wasn’t current when his father was confronted about his drug use, he testified, however believed his response was largely “apologetic and sorry.”

Buster Murdaugh’s testimony Tuesday was adopted by that of Mike Sutton, a forensic engineer who labored to recreate the scene of the killings and testified that Alex Murdaugh couldn’t be the shooter as a result of he’s too tall.

Sutton analyzed bullet holes discovered on the scene, notably one left in a quail pen, in addition to the situation of shell casings discovered by Maggie’s physique to find out the trajectory bullets adopted after they have been fired. Primarily based on his evaluation, Sutton mentioned, the trajectory of the bullet would make sense if the shooter was between 5 toes 2 inches and 5 toes 4 inches tall.

If the gunman was taller, it might have required the shooter to carry the weapon in a low place – from the hip, for instance. Sutton indicated it might be even much less life like if the shooter have been as tall as Alex Murdaugh, who stands at about 6 toes 4 inches, requiring the killer to fireplace whereas crouching over and holding the gun as little as his knees.

“It places the shooter or whoever fired the weapon, in the event that they have been that tall, it places them in an unrealistic capturing place,” Sutton mentioned. “It’s not an aiming place, it’s not a capturing place. … It could be very troublesome. You would need to be bending over and have your capturing hand down at or beneath your kneecap.”

“It simply makes it most unlikely {that a} tall individual made that shot,” Sutton mentioned.

Sutton additionally analyzed the acoustics of gunfire on the scene, telling the court docket it was attainable for somebody to be inside the home and never hear a gun – just like the .300 Blackout rifle believed to have killed Maggie – fired on the property’s canine kennels, the place the our bodies have been discovered.

“You wouldn’t be capable of hear it,” Sutton mentioned.

“And the shotgun, I assume, was quieter, so I assume even much less of a chance to listen to that,” protection lawyer Dick Harpootlian mentioned.

“There have been occasions we fired the shotgun, and in a quiet home you couldn’t hear it in any respect,” Sutton mentioned.

Prosecutor David Fernandez sought to undercut Sutton’s testimony throughout cross-examination, establishing that whereas his main experience is in accident reconstruction, he has no certification or coaching in reconstructing capturing incidents. Sutton has carried out unpublished research and exams on bullet trajectories, he mentioned.

Fernandez questioned Sutton on his findings {that a} 5-feet-two-inch tall particular person was liable for firing the weapon, asking Sutton if it was attainable that the cartridge casings from the fired bullets have been moved on the scene or ricocheted, which might impression his calculations. Sutton acknowledged it was attainable.

Sutton additionally acknowledged that the ammunition he used within the acoustics take a look at was, whereas related, not the precise buckshot utilized in Paul Murdaugh’s homicide.

Moreover, Sutton testified he was employed by protection lawyer Jim Griffin to analyze the 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Seaside previous to the murders.