“I” or “They:” Murdaugh interview with law enforcement enters the spotlight
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WIS) - Week two of the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh began with jurors hearing the disgraced Lowcountry attorney’s second interview with investigators days after the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.
The interview was conducted on June 10.
In it, Alex consents to having his cell phone downloaded.
In the recording, played during testimony of SLED special agent Jeff Croft, Murdaugh walks investigators through a timeline of the night of the killings, that the prosecution will look to contradict later in trial.
Croft inventoried guns at the Murdaugh hunting property the day after the murders on June 8 as well.
Jurors got a look at body camera video from that search, which was made public Monday afternoon.
Croft can be seen picking up spent .300 Bblackout casings on the grounds outside the gun room at Moselle, the family’s hunting property.
“Go ahead and pick that one up, there’s two right there,” Croft said on the body camera recording while gathering the Blackout shells for evidence. “They’ve been there a while, the .300s.”
While the murder weapons in the double slayings of Paul and Maggie have never been found, Croft testified Monday that other guns were found in the gun room at Moselle, which are similar to the murder weapons: .300 Blackout rifles and 12-gauge shotguns.
“Do you know the specific brand and make and caliber of ammunition that was used to kill Maggie Murdaugh,” Waters asked.
“The headstamps on the shell casings at the crime scene was S&B .300 Blackout,” Croft said.
“Same thing?” Waters said.
“Yes sir,” Croft responded.
Throughout the day, the state’s lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters, questioned Croft about the guns on the Murdaugh property and the ammo both around the house and at a shooting range there.
Prosecutors laying out evidence that the shells near the bodies of Maggie and Paul’s bodies match other ammunition on the property.
Four guns were presented for evidence on Monday.
Defense objected to the inclusion of that evidence, but presiding judge Clifton Newman overruled those objections.
“There’s no dispute that the defendant had multiple guns in and around his place and I find that it’s relevant and more probative than prejudicial, and that’s the basis for the court’s order with regard to admitting that evidence,” he said.
Murdaugh’s defense attorneys throughout the day again sought to show the investigation of the murders as compromised.
In cross-examination of SLED agent Melinda Worley on Monday, the defense hoped to poke holes in the investigation, processing of the Moselle property , questioning footprint evidence and an impression on Maggie’s calf.
“As you look at it now, you agree that a better photograph taken under the procedures of SLED and the FBI and everybody else, could have given you a better ability to match it to a piece of footwear, correct?” Defense Attorney Dick Harpootlian asked.
“I don’t know that a better photograph would’ve given me better results,” Worley said. “I think I saw enough of it to know I wasn’t going to be able to attribute it to a type of footwear.”
Just days after the forensic investigator testified that blood was found on Murdaugh’s Suburban and on his clothing the night of the murders, Harpootlian asked Worley if law enforcement walked through the bloody crime scene.
“Is that preservation of the scene that your standards require?” he asked.
“Not exactly, no,” Worley said.
“Not exactly? Should police be walking through the scene?” Harpootlian responded.
“No,” Worley said.”
“Do you know what other evidence they may have destroyed?” he asked.
“I have no idea,” Worley said.
“That’s right, you don’t,” Harpootlian said.
Worley previously testified that gunshot residue was found on the seatbelt and steering wheel of Murdaugh’s Suburban as well.
Pointing out bullet trajectories, Harpootlian offered up an alternate theory of the case: that Maggie and Paul were killed by two different shooters.
“One explanation of this data would be two shooters?” he asked Worley. “One explanation. Not the, but one.”
“Not the only one,” Worley responded.
“Yeah, not the only one,” Harpootlian said. “But it is a reasonable explanation, just like one shooter running up that way, correct?”
“Sure,” Worley said.
Later in the afternoon, Waters played the audio interview with Murdaugh, during Croft was present on June 10, where Murdaugh described the night of the murders.
ALex can be heard describing how he and Paul drove the property earlier that day, looking for hogs, and shooting .300 Blackout rifles.
When they returned, Maggie was at the house, he said.
“We sat down, we ate supper, which we usually eat supper together,” Alex said.
Alex claims this is the last time he saw his wife and son.
However, the prosecution asserts it has a Snapchat video from Paul at 8:47 P.M. that places Alex at the murder scene later that night before they say the shootings took place.
In their opening statement, prosecutors placed the murder of Paul at 8:50 P.M., and that of Maggie moments later.
After dinner, Alex said, Maggie went down to the dog kennels.
Alex told investigators he did not know where Paul went after that.
He said that he then took a nap, got up and went to visit his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Murdaugh reported that he tried to contact Maggie at 9:06 P.M., but maintains he never went down to the kennels.
In that interview, Murdaugh once again suggests the murders could be tied to the 2019 fatal boat crash involving his son Paul that killed Mallory Beach.
The piece of audio that garnered the most scrutiny Monday was Murdaugh described the scene that he saw when he claims to have returned to Moselle later that evening, before dialing 911.
“It’s just so bad,” he said. “I did him so bad.”
The audio is unclear, and some have heard “they did him so bad.”
Waters asked Croft to clarify what he heard on the recording.
“When you asked the defendant about the traumatic picture that he saw of Paul and Maggie, what did he say?” Waters said.
“‘It’s just so bad, I did him so bad,’” Croft testified.
On the recording, investigators did not follow up with a question about that statement, and defense attorneys Monday did not object to Croft’s interpretation.
However, courtroom cameras appeared to catch Murdaugh mouthing “I didn’t say that” regarding Croft’s interpretation.
The defense will work to clarify and cast doubt on Croft’s testimony regarding that audio in their cross examination on Tuesday.
Livestream video of day six of the trial:
Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.
Copyright 2023 WIS. All rights reserved.