The defense rests its case for Alex Murdaugh after his brother takes the stand

John Marvin Murdaugh takes the stand during his brother's trial
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:00 AM EST

WALTERBORO, S.C. (WIS) - The defense rested its case against Alex Murdaugh on Monday, with the defendant’s brother, John Marvin Murdaugh, taking the stand.

He offered emotional testimony in support of his brother as the trial entered its sixth week.

Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife Maggie and son Paul on June 7, 2021. John Marvin, the defense’s 14th and final witness said he believes the real killer, or killers, remain at large.

John Marvin testified that Alex was a loving father and husband.

He said Murdaugh’s boys, Buster and Paul, “always came first.”

Though he acknowledged that Maggie and Alex’s marriage had hiccups, he said it was a good one.

John Marvin also said he would have to create a new word to describe how distraught Alex was after the killings.

He described the moments when his brother told him that Maggie and Paul were dead.

“Alex called me and just absolutely hysterical,” John Marvin said. “As soon as I heard his voice, I knew something bad was going on. Didn’t know what.”

Murdaugh’s brother also sought to cast doubt on SLED’s investigation of Moselle in the aftermath of the murders.

John Marvin said when he pulled up to the Murdaugh hunting property that night at 11 P.M., he found his brother Alex, broken.

He also said it appeared his brother had recently showered.

John Marvin said he needed to see for himself what went happened at the kennels the following day.

He noticed Paul’s blood and brain matter still all over the crime scene, and he cleaned up.

“I felt like it was the right thing to do, I felt like I owed him, and I started cleaning,” John Marvin said. “And I can promise you, no mother or father or aunt or uncle should ever have to see and do what I did that day.”

John Marvin said it was the “hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

He said he made a silent vow to Paul to find the real killer.

On Monday, John Marvin testified he believes someone upset about the February 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach could be responsible for the murders.

Paul, John Marvin’s nephew, was allegedly behind the wheel in that crash.

He cited social media and “media-inflamed rumors” for anger against the family.

Neither Alex nor or any of his immediate family ever filed any police reports or pursued any legal action in the face of these perceived threats.

Alex, despite a lack of evidence, has also blamed the boat crash and backlash surrounding it for the murders, ever since investigators first arrived at Moselle on June 7.

John Marvin also said he felt the outrage surrounding the crash that killed Mallory Beach was “blown out of proportion.”

The entire family, himself included, was cooperative throughout the investigation, John Marvin argued.

He said he assisted authorities in their search of the Moselle home, even offering to help locate Maggie’s phone through Buster’s “Find My Phone” feature, but said law enforcement refused.

John Marvin also inferred law enforcement was lax in its investigation.

He was baffled by the law enforcement release shortly after the killings that said there was no danger to the public.

Under cross-examination, John Marvin got caught up by saying Alex was “fully cooperative” with law enforcement and SLED, while also admitting he knew his brother was lying when he said he was never at the kennels the night of the slayings.

Investigators played the kennel video for John Marvin on August 12, 2022 and on Monday he testified he heard Alex’s voice at the kennels on that recording.

When asked if that recording showed Alex was not being fully cooperative with authorities, John Marvin conceded, “He lied.”

The day began with graphic testimony from defense witnesses, detailing the brutal and gruesome nature of the crimes.

The defense also sought to show that whoever shot Paul and Maggie would have been covered in blood.

Earlier, the defense called crime scene analyst Timothy Palmbach to the stand, who said that in his expert opinion, he believes two shooters killed Maggie and Paul.

“My opinion is the totality of the evidence is more suggestive of a two-shooter scenario,” he said. “I think minimally, minimally that shooter is getting covered with this material, getting more or less the shockwave of that effect; therefore, I think that particular shooter for a brief period of time is kind of out of this. It’s not as if they can instantaneously suffer that, drop the shotgun, run to wherever the Blackout rifle is, pick that up and then in any kind of a reasonable time period engage in a meaningful assault.”

While Palmbach raised questions as to why one person would use two guns, prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh did this to throw off investigators.

Palmbach also testified to a key element of the defense’s case: that the investigation by SLED was shoddy and they possibly missed evidence. He mentioned footprints in the feed room, where Paul’s body was found, that were not identified.

However, he did back up testimony from state witnesses who believed that Paul did not have any defensive wounds, and was startled by the shooter.

This appears to support one of the state’s main arguments: that Paul did not see the attack coming.

Another witness, Jonathan Eisenstat, a forensic pathologist, testified he got $5,500 dollars for his testimony Monday, collecting a total of $10,000 from the defense for his analysis and testimony.

The state has highlighted these fees and suggested to the jury that these experts amount to little more than “paid spokespeople” for the defense.

In the coming days, jurors will visit the Murdaugh family hunting lodge where Maggie and Paul were killed.

This idea of having jurors visit Moselle is one the defense floated earlier in the trial, but on Monday presiding Judge Clifton Newman officially approved it.

Jurors will be accompanied by law enforcement on the trip.

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said it is important for jurors to understand the spatial issues at play at the family’s hunting estate before they deliberate.

That way, they can better understand how small the feed room is, and where the feed room is in relation to where Maggie’s body was.

The state opposed the Moselle visit, indicating that the property had changed in the year and a half since the killings, but Newman said he usually approves such a field trip if either side requests it.

Initially, Harpootlian had suggested that jurors vote on whether they’d like to see Moselle, but Newman said that would not be appropriate.

He said it could cause “premature deliberations.”

Jurors will not be allowed inside the main house, and they cannot take any photos.

There will not be any explanations or presentations there by either side.

It is simply an opportunity to visit and observe, and they must rely on prior testimony to draw their conclusions.

Prosecutors will call rebuttal witnesses starting on Tuesday.

Closing arguments could begin as early as midweek, possibly Wednesday.

Prosecutors said on Friday they have at least one rebuttal witness they intend to call.

Court began at 9:30 a.m. You can watch below or stream on our YouTube channel.



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