Alex Murdaugh was found guilty on Thursday of murdering his wife and son. Despite the lack of direct evidence, the prosecution spent weeks explaining how Murdaugh had the motive, means and opportunity to carry out the murders.
The case hinged on circumstantial evidence: Proving that Murdaugh was at the crime scene that night and lied to investigators, and painting him as a fraudster who killed his family in a desperate attempt to hijack the careful investigations into his actions.
A series of witnesses have accused Murdaugh of significant financial wrongdoing at his eponymous law firm and presented evidence that he lied to nearly everyone around him in a year-long fraud. A “judgment day” came from many different angles, so he killed his family to distract and delay those financial investigations, the prosecution argued.
Two investigations in particular that could have uncovered Murdaugh’s wrongdoing were coming to a head at the time of the murders.
For one, the chief financial officer of her law firm testified that she confronted Murdaugh about missing funds on the morning of June 7, 2021, hours before the murders. After the murders, the internal investigation into the funds took a back seat.
Second, Murdaugh was facing a lawsuit from the family of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old who was killed in February 2019 when a boat, owned by Murdaugh and allegedly driven by Paul, crashed. A hearing in that civil case was scheduled for June 10, 2021 and had the potential to reveal his financial troubles, prosecutors argued.
Maggie was killed by a Blackout rifle and Paul was killed by a shotgun, prosecutor Creighton Waters said, adding that both were family guns. Testimony from a weapons expert proved that Blackout rifle bullet casings discovered near Maggie’s body matched casings found on other parts of the homestead.
Waters noted that this weapon was missing and Murdaugh could not account for it.
Paul Murdaugh was killed by shotgun blasts, one of Paul’s “favorite guns”, Waters said. Investigators determined that the two shells that killed Paul had “class characteristics” similar to those of a 12-gauge shotgun. Waters added that Alex Murdaugh had this shotgun with him on the night of the murders. and that “Maggie’s DNA and blood” were found on the receiver of the weapon.
One of the prosecution’s most compelling pieces of evidence was an audio recording it says placed Murdaugh at the crime scene on the night of the murders. The video focuses on one of their dogs and appears to have been recorded in the kennels of their family home in Islandton, South Carolina. Three different voices can be heard in the background of the video, and family friends have identified those voices as those of Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.
Video was filmed on Paul’s phone beginning at 8:44 p.m. on June 7, 2021, minutes before Paul and Maggie were shot, according to Lt. David Britton Dove, supervisor of the South Carolina Law Computer Crime Center Enforcement. Division.
Murdaugh’s presence there contradicts his initial assertion to investigators that he was not at the kennel that night, prosecutors said.
Murdaugh “told anyone who would listen that he was never there,” the prosecution said in their opening statements. “The evidence will show he was there. He was at the scene of the murder with the two victims.
Murdaugh later admitted to lying, testifying during the trial that he misled law enforcement due to addiction-induced paranoia.