Alex Murdaugh’s prosecutor told jurors today that he was ‘the only person’ who could have murdered his wife and son as the State made its closing argument.
Creighton Waters said the disgraced legal scion, 54, faced a ‘gathering storm’ of financial ruin that drove him to kill Maggie and Paul at the family’s hunting estate in Moselle, South Carolina, on June 7, 2021.
Murdaugh had been confronted on the day of the murders over $792,000 that had gone ‘missing’ from his law firm. He had stolen more than $10m from clients and partners. Three days after the killings he was due in court for a hearing in the lawsuit over his son’s drunken boat crash that killed a teen girl two years earlier.
Compounding this, Waters said Murdaugh’s 20-year opioid habit was spiraling, his drug purchases ‘escalated’ in March, and reminded jurors that on the defendant’s own admission, ‘withdrawals would make him do anything, anything to get rid of them.’
‘The pressures on this man were unbearable and they were all reaching a crescendo the day his wife and son were murdered by him,’ Waters told the court.
Alex Murdaugh today glared at the prosecutor in his double murder trial as he kicked off his closing argument by telling jurors ‘husbands have been killing wives for years and killing sons goes back to King Herod’
Maggie, Paul, Alex and Buster Murdaugh with their dog Bubba in a new family photo obtained by DailyMail.com
‘The hounds were at the gate,’ the prosecutor said. ‘He was living a lie.’
Waters said: ‘On June 7, 2021, at the Moselle property in Colleton County, Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh were brutally and maliciously murdered at the kennels by Alex Murdaugh.
‘Paul suffered two shotgun blasts, Maggie suffered five Blackout rifle wounds and after an exhaustive investigation there is only one person who had the motive, who had the means, who had the opportunity to commit these crimes and also whose guilty conduct after these crimes betrays him.
‘The defendant was the one person who was living a lie, the defendant was the one person on whom a storm was descending, and the defendant was the only person whose own storm would mean consequences for Maggie and Paul.’
The State is laying out its closing argument before the defense, who claim it is simply not believable a ‘loving’ husband and father would so brutally murder his wife and son.
Murdaugh, who faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted, took the stand last week to claim vigilantes furious about his son’s fatal boat wreck killed the pair.
The alleged killer also admitted that he was at the kennels moments before Maggie and Paul were butchered after a video shown earlier in the trial proved he was there.
In his police interviews he had claimed he only ever saw them at the kennels when they were lying dead on the ground after he got back from visiting his ailing mother.
He admitted lying to cops but said this was because his opioid addiction made him paranoid around cops.
Murdaugh last week told a new story to jurors, claiming he was at the kennels but left about a minute after the video taken by Paul at 8.45pm which places him at the murder scene.
He said he went back up to the main house, around 400 yards away, before leaving to go and visit his mother in Almeda, around a 15-minute drive.
The prosecutor said Maggie and Paul had already been shot dead by this time and that all of his subsequent activity, including missed calls and texts to Maggie, calls to friends and colleagues, and the visit to his mother, were to ‘manufacture an alibi.’
Murdaugh called 911 at 10.06pm after arriving back at Moselle.
Waters began his closing argument by laying out what motivated Murdaugh to kill his family.
Waters said Murdaugh is a ‘person of singular prominence and respect in this community, but he’s also a person who’s been able to avoid accountability for all of his life.
‘While he was outwardly giving the illusion of wealth and a very lucrative law practice, some bad land deals exacerbated by the (2008) economic recession led to some financial problems.
Alex Murdaugh arrived at court today greeted by a protestor waving a ‘justice coming soon sign’ as he arrived for the final showdown in his double murder trial to hear closing arguments before the jury are sent to reach their verdict
Reverend Raymond Johnson of Myrtle Beach watched on with his placard, telling DailyMail.com he ‘wants to see justice done … a wife and son have been torn from their family and community’
Murdaugh is flanked by sheriff’s as he arrives at the court Wednesday morning
‘He had some big cases in 2011 and 2012 and all of his colleagues thought that had taken care of things …
‘But the defendant became so addicted and so dependent on a velocity of money, that the millions of dollars in legal fees that he was receiving was not enough so he started to steal.’
But Murdaugh was stealing from his clients, like Hakeem Pickney – a quadriplegic whose case earned Murdaugh more than $4m in fees in 2011. He stole around a million from Pickney’s settlement.
Waters said Murdaugh stole more than $4.5m from the sons of his housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died in a fall at his home in 2018.
Tony Satterfield had asked the defendant where the money was following publicity that a settlement had been reached. Murdaugh palmed him off. Waters said that unlike some of his cases ‘he took all of the money, he took every bit of it.’
In several cases the alleged killer was stealing money from new clients to pay back the ones he had already stolen from.
‘All of things are coming to a head and his finances are falling apart,’ Waters said.
‘During this time when he’s earning millions of dollars and stealing millions of dollars he’s also borrowing millions of dollars from wherever he can, the bank, his partners, his father,’ Waters said.
‘And this slow burn was continuing and continuing until the boat crash happened in February 2019 and that changed everything that set in motion things that were going to happen, because of the criminal and civil charges related to that case.’
Murdaugh is escorted into the court for the final showdown in his trial Wednesday
The disgraced legal scion, 54, was seen getting out of the black prison van with his blazer draped over his handcuffs shortly after 11.30am Wednesday
A sheriff escorts Murdaugh into the court as droves of photographers wait outside the court
Mark Tinsley, the attorney for 19-year-old Mallory Beach’s family who was killed in Paul’s drunken boat wreck, testified he was seeking $10m from Murdaugh personally.
A hearing on disclosure of finances in the boat case was scheduled for June 10. But the murders three days before meant it never went ahead.
After sitting through more than a month of testimony, jurors this morning visited the family’s hunting estate to see the exact spot where Murdaugh’s wife Maggie and son Paul were shot dead.
The legal heir arrived at court later greeted by a protestor holding a placard which said ‘justice is coming soon.’ Reverend Raymond Johnson of Myrtle Beach watched on with his placard, telling DailyMail.com he ‘wants to see justice done … a wife and son have been torn from their family and community.’
Prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh committed the murders in an effort to generate sympathy at a time when his life was collapsing amid allegations that he had stolen huge sums from clients and his law partners, partly to feed a drug habit. They have painted him as a serial liar throughout the trial.
The case has drawn intense media coverage given the family’s immense judicial and political power in and around Colleton County, where the trial is taking place. For decades until 2006, family members served as the leading prosecutor in the area, and Murdaugh was a prominent personal injury attorney in the state.
In addition to the murders, Murdaugh has been charged with dozens of financial crimes, including an alleged scheme to have himself killed so that his older son, Buster, could collect a $10 million insurance payout. During the trial, Murdaugh admitted to stealing from clients and his law firm.
Murdaugh’s lawyers have sought to portray him as a loving family man who, while facing financial troubles and suffering from a years-long addiction to opioids that led him to lie and steal, would never harm his wife and child.
Last week Murdaugh testified that he had lied about his whereabouts on the night the killings, changing his account after the jury was presented with video evidence placing him at the scene minutes before investigators say the murders occurred.
The hanger and dog kennels at the Murdaugh Moselle property on Wednesday in a photo taken after the jury visited the crime scene this morning
The hose at the kennels which jurors have heard much about in evidence. First responders said the scene was wet and that the bodies of the victims were saturated with water as well as blood, despite the fact it had not rained yet that night
A bullet hole from an assault rifle is seen on Wednesday in the quail pen at the estate, yards away from where Maggie was killed
The main house at the sprawling 1,800-acre estate. Murdaugh claims he went back up to the main house moments before the State says Maggie and Paul were shot dead
A plant pot painted with a snowman and the name ‘Buster,’ Murdaugh’s sole surviving son, was seen on the porch during the jury’s visit Wednesday
A bike outside the front of the property which jurors visited Wednesday morning. The court has heard Maggie would often ride a bicycle down to the kennels, while Paul would drive the 400 yards
The side of the house where the gun room is at the Murdaugh Moselle property on Wednesday
The Jury heading to 4147 Moselle Rd, the site of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s murders
Cops outside the courthouse this morning as the jurors were loaded up for the trip to Moselle
The lawyers joined the jurors on the half-hour trip to the estate
Murdaugh said he lied to investigators about his alibi that night because of paranoid thoughts tied to his drug habit and because he did not trust the police.
Earlier the 12 jurors and two alternates were loaded into three transport vans with blacked-out windows and were guarded by a convoy of cop cars as they made the half-hour trip from the Colleton County courthouse to Moselle, South Carolina.
Judge Clifton Newman rode in a pickup truck driven by Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jason Chapman. Chapman testified on the first day of the trial as one of the first cops on the scene the night of Maggie and Paul’s murders.
The outing comes at the request of Murdaugh’s defense attorneys who told the judge the visit would would allow jurors to see ‘how small the feed room is (where Paul was killed)’ and understand its location in relation to Maggie’s body.
The visit lasted an hour and 15 minutes and jurors will now hear closing arguments before being sent out to reach their verdict.
Crime scene visits by juries are relatively rare but have occurred in a number of other high-profile prosecutions, including the 1995 murder trial of O.J. Simpson.
Legal experts warned the move was ‘a big risk’. On the one hand it could garner sympathy for the alleger killer by showing jurors where his family lived – but they may also see that it was possible him to have committed the murders.
Lori Murray, a South Carolina criminal defense attorney, told DailyMail.com: ‘The defense wants the jury to be able to use all their senses to take this crime scene in.
‘It’s one thing to have pictures and graphs but quite another to be there in person. At the crime scene, the jury can see the house, the expanse of land, and the kennels.
‘They can judge just how close these two murders occurred and the distance from the house and perhaps instead of seeing the murders, they’ll hear Alex’s and John Marvin’s words and see where a family lived.
‘Or they’ll see how clearly possible it was for one person, Alex, to commit these murders. A big risk for the defense.’
The jury were seen walking the narrow path between the kennels where Paul was blasted with a shotgun and the lean-to where Maggie was killed with a rifle.
Maggie’s body was found a few yards to the right of a doghouse, while Paul’s was by the doorway at the end of the kennels
Murdaugh claims he was at the main house watching TV at the time the State says Maggie and Paul were shot dead
The feed room (right) where Paul was killed at the end of the row of dog cages at the kennels
Maggie was shot dead a few yards to the right of the dog house by the lean-to while Paul was shot dead inside the feed room of the kennels (back right)
The quail pen stands against the wooden wall under the lean-to which was struck by a round from the .300 Blackout rifle that killed Maggie
The kennels at the 1,800-acre Murdaugh hunting estate around a half-hour drive from the courthouse where his double murder trial is taking place
One juror was spotted standing inside the feed room looking up at the doorway which has been the subject of gruesome testimony. Paul’s brains and blood were splattered up the door after his head was blown off by buckshot.
Judge Newman was with them, standing still, looking down. He was in street clothes. Some of the deputies on watch while the jurors tour are some of the key witnesses in the case, including Detective Laura Rutland, who sat in on Murdaugh’s first interview with South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent David Owen in the early hours of June 8, 2021.
They were parked that night in SLED Special Agent Owen’s SUV to get out of the rain.
The jury spent the bulk of their time at the kennels and the shed where Maggie and Paul were killed. Towards the end of the visit, the jury were taken to the main house for a view of the exterior. They were not allowed inside.
Judge Newman warned the jury they are not to confer with each other or ask questions of anybody at the scene. ‘If you have any questions you can only ask me,’ the judge said last night.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian requested that law enforcement secure the property beforehand because ‘literally dozens of trespassers’ have been mobbing the grounds to take selfies.
He told the judge that the jury needed to be protected from the ‘carnival atmosphere’ of trial enthusiasts who have been at the estate throughout the trial.
Cops descended on the estate yesterday in anticipation for a jury visit in the afternoon, but the final witness ran on too long and the trip was delayed until this morning.
Lead state prosecutor Creighton Waters objected to the jury outing, arguing the estate looked different than it did in 2021 and said a visit might require additional testimony from the state.
Nearly three decades earlier, jurors in the Simpson trial toured the scene where prosecutors alleged that he killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.
Jurors saw the spot where Nicole Brown Simpson and Goldman’s bloodied bodies were found on the walkway leading up to her Brentwood condominium.
Prosecutor Marcia Clark said at the time that taking jurors to see the narrow, confined walkway would show ‘the reason why one person could accomplish this, and how the victims were cornered.’
Buster Murdaugh arrives with his girlfriend Brooklynn White and followed by Alex’s sister Lynn
Buster Murdaugh and his girlfriend Brooklynn White arrive with Alex’s sister Lynn and brother John Marvin on Tuesday
Simpson was acquitted of the killings but was later found liable for the deaths in a civil suit.
The State says Murdaugh first blasted Paul twice with a shotgun in the feed room of the kennels before shooting Maggie with a .300 Blackout rifle yards away.
Jurors have heard gruesome evidence of how Paul’s brain was blown out the back of his head by a close range blast of steel buckshot from a 12-gauge shotgun.
Maggie was shot at least four times, with bullet wounds to her thigh, wrist, torso and head. The final shot was fired into the back of her head as she lay face down on the ground when she was already dead.
During his testimony, Murdaugh floated his own theory of who committed the murders, saying he believed that vigilantes killed his wife and son in revenge for Paul’s drunken boat accident which killed a 19-year-old girl.
He said Paul had been attacked and threatened after the wreck in which Mallory Beach was killed in February 2019.