Murdaugh ‘fuzzy’ in testimony about new story details

Beginning at 9:30 am, the video at the top of the story will play a live video feed of the Friday, Feb. 24 proceedings in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial or a replay upon completion.

Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh tested Friday at his double murder trial that he cooperated with police investigating the deaths of his wife and son in every way except mentioning the last time he saw them alive.

Murdaugh returned to the stand in his own defense for a second day, and the prosecutor Creighton Waters had the defendant walk through what he repeatedly called Murdaugh’s “new story” about what happened at the kennels where the bodies would later be found the night of the killings .

For 20 months since the June 2021 killings, Murdaugh insisted that he was never at the kennels. But after more than a year, state agents hacked his son’s iPhone and found a video with Alex Murdaugh’s voice for less than five minutes before the victims stopped using their cellphones and prosecutors thought they were shot.

Waters asks Murdaugh if he meant what he told the jury Thursday — that he tried to help police find the killers.

Power, prestige and privilege:Inside the rise and fall of the Murdaugh dynasty in South Carolina

“Other than lying to them about going to the kennels, I was cooperative in every aspect of this investigation,” Murdaugh said.

“Very cooperative except maybe the most important fact of all, that you were at the murder scene with the victims just minutes before they died,” Waters replied.

Alex Murdaugh can’t remember details about time at dog kennels

Murdaugh, 54, is charged with murder in the deaths of his wife, Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.

Waters tried to get more details from Murdaugh about what happened during the kennel visit, saying this was all new to investigators since he was only admitted to it in court Thursday.

The details are critical. The video ended just before 8:46 pm and both Paul and Maggie Murdaugh stopped using their cellphones about three minutes later.

Murdaugh couldn’t remember how long he was at the kennels, whether he got blood on his hands pulling a dead chicken from a dog’s mouth or the last words he would ever say to his son and his wife.

“There would have been some exchange,” Murdaugh said.

Waters said it appeared Murdaugh remembered a lot of specifics when the details were critical, but not when they might get him in trouble.

“You disagree with my characterization that you have a photographic memory about the details that have to fit now that you know these facts but you’re fuzzy about the other stuff that complicates that?” Waters said.

Murdaugh said Friday that after the brief kennel visit, he returned to the family’s house about 1,150 feet (350 meters) away on a golf cart, lay down for a few minutes and then got up to get ready to visit his ailing mother about 9: 02 pm, a time verified by step data on his cellphone, which he didn’t take to the kennels.

Waters has not asked Murdaugh directly if he killed his wife or son or knows who did. On the Thursday stand, tears ran down Murdaugh’s cheeks when his lawyer asked if he blew his son’s brains out or shot his wife several times.

“I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them,” Murdaugh said.

Until the kennel questions, much of the cross-examination of Murdaugh concentrated on how he stole money from clients and his law firm and the addiction to opioids that Murdaugh said led to the thefts.

Alex Murdaugh gives testimony in his murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Thursday, Feb.  23, 2023. Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and Courier/Pool

Alex Murdaugh gives testimony in his murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Grace Beahm Alford/The Post and Courier/Pool

Prosecutors have said Murdaugh killed his wife and son to gain sympathy to buy time because his financial misdeeds were about to be discovered. Murdaugh stanchly denied killing them in questioning Thursday from his attorneys.

Murdaugh avoided yes or no answers in cross-examination, instead repeating questions and then setting off on meandering answers tangential to the prosecutor’s questions.

Exasperated, Waters again asked Murdaugh if he looked his clients in the eye before he stole from them.

“They are real people. They are good people. They are all people that I care about. And many of them are people I love. And I did wrong by them,” Murdaugh said, repeating a version of one of his frequent answers.

“You hurt the people you love, I know,” Waters replied dismissively.

Murdaugh is charged with about 100 other crimes, ranging from stealing from clients to tax evasion. He is being held without bail on those charges, so even if he is found not guilty of the killings, he will not walk out of court as a free man. If convicted of most or all of those financial crimes, Murdaugh would likely spend decades in prison.

Alex Murdaugh blames opioid addiction for financial crimes

Waters also asked Murdaugh about that addiction and the defendant avoided specifics like exactly how many pills he was taking just before the killings or the agitation he felt when he started to have withdrawals.

“Opioids gave me energy,” Murdaugh said. “Whatever I was doing, it made it more interesting,”

Murdaugh avoided yes or no answers in cross-examination, instead repeating questions and then setting off on meandering answers tangential to the prosecutor’s questions.

Exasperated, Waters again asked Murdaugh if he looked his clients in the eye before he stole from them.

“They are real people. They are good people. They are all people that I care about. And many of them are people I love. And I did wrong by them,” Murdaugh said, repeating a version of one of his frequent answers.

“You hurt the people you love, I know,” Waters replied dismissively.

On the Thursday stand, tears ran down Murdaugh’s cheeks when his lawyer asked if he blew his son’s brains out or shot his wife several times.

“I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them,” Murdaugh said.

Murdaugh is charged with about 100 other crimes, ranging from stealing from clients to tax evasion. He is being held without bail on those charges, so even if he is found not guilty of the killings, he will not walk out of court as a free man. If convicted of most or all of those financial crimes, Murdaugh would likely spend decades in prison.

Check back for updates.

Alex Murdaugh’s demeanor during the trial

At times during the first 20 days of this trial and as the State presented it’s case, Murdaugh appeared angry and yet at other times he’d sneer at the prosecution.

As the testimony of how his wife’s pancreas, kidney and other organs were annihilated by 300 Blackout rounds designed to take down wild boar or how his son’s brain landed at the victim’s feet, Murdaugh rocks, hangs his head and weeps.

Yet in other moments, files in hand, Murdaugh strategizes like the lawyer in the case, then laughs with his defense team and appears jovial, as if he has forgotten that he is accused of the unthinkable.

When Murdaugh’s defense team started with their witnesses, Murdaugh peered at them, sometimes over the bridge of glasses perched at the end of his nose, seeming to analyze every word that came out.

Alex Murdaugh murder trial: The State’s evidence likely to impact the Colleton County jury

What evidence will have an impact on the Colleton County jury in the Alex Murdaught trial, and will it stick? What is the State’s most powerful evidence?

Here’s Michael DeWitt’s analysis of what may transpire this week in court.

Witness list in the Alex Murdaugh trial

Murdaugh is now one of the dozens of people to take the witness stand in this case.

The parade of witnesses who have already taken the stand and could still potentially take it ranges from investigators with different South Carolina police departments to Alex Murdaugh’s still-living son, Buster. Testimony from those witnesses was on hold Friday morning as Judge Clifton Newman heard arguments and debated whether to allow evidence of the former South Carolina attorney’s alleged financial crimes and other “bad acts” as motive in the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Alex Murdaugh trial updates: Murdaugh cross-examination continues

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