Prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh coldly killed his wife and youngest son at point-blank range with a shotgun and AR-style rifle, prosecutors alleged Wednesday in opening statements at his murder trial.
Creighton Waters, the state’s lead attorney in the case, noted that neither Murdaugh’s wife, Margaret, 52, nor the couple’s youngest son, Paul, 22, had defensive wounds, “as if they didn’t see a threat.” coming from your attacker.” .”
Paul Murdaugh was shot in the chest, shoulder and finally in the head with buckshot from a 12-gauge shotgun, causing “devastating damage,” Waters said. Margaret Murdaugh was shot with the rifle in her abdomen and leg before being shot in the head.
The details of the injuries are gruesome, Waters said, and his description will be difficult to listen to.
“It’s going to be awful,” he told the jury.
It turned gruesome when Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, in his opening arguments detailed the grisly state of Paul and Margaret’s bodies after they were shot. Alex Murdaugh sobbed as Harpootlian described how the scion of the family, who said he enjoyed a loving relationship with his wife and his son, discovered Paul “lying in his own blood with his brain at his feet.” he”.
“I want you to listen to that 911 tape, a grieving, hysterical man,” said Harpootlian, who insisted there were numerous holes in the prosecution’s case, built on the attorney general’s “theories, his guesswork.”
Harpootlian said police and prosecutors concluded at the scene that Murdaugh was guilty “without forensics, without cell phones, without anything like that,” adding that they had tried to fit “a square peg into a round hole” to build their case.
“He didn’t do it, and you need to put any thoughts he did out of your mind,” he told jurors, noting that Murdaugh had no blood on his shirt or pants despite tests conducted by the prosecution.
Waters, who spent about 30 minutes establishing a detailed timeline of the crimes, said prosecutors had built a case on a large amount of forensic evidence. That evidence includes cell phone data that Waters said would show Murdaugh was at the scene of the crime minutes before her family members’ cell phones “went silent forever.”
The state’s case would also include a video Paul Murdaugh sent to a friend just before the shooting, which picked up his and his parents’ voices, even though Murdaugh “told anyone who would listen that he wasn’t there.”
Police also found a “crumpled” raincoat that was “covered with gunshot residue” inside the home of Alex Murdaugh’s parents, Waters said.
Murdaugh is accused of murdering his wife and son in June 2021. Both were found shot to death on the family’s rural home property, about 65 miles west of Charleston, after Murdaugh called 911.
The longtime personal injury lawyer has maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon.
After just two and a half days of jury selection at the Walterboro, South Carolina courthouse, attorneys for both sides whittled the juror count from hundreds to 12: six white women, two black women, and four white men. The six alternates include two black women, three white men, and one black man.
Murdaugh’s family members, including his eldest son, Buster, 26, and his brothers John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh were present for opening remarks Wednesday. They sat behind Murdaugh and entered shortly before the lawyers were due to make his remarks, and he thanked them for coming after opening statements concluded.
Murdaugh wore a suit jacket Wednesday to cover his handcuffs.
The patriarch of a South Carolina legal family also faces another case that includes numerous alleged fraud schemes, which prosecutors say he pursued to stay financially afloat.
South Carolina prosecutors alleged in a hearing in December that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to try to cover up a decade of financial crimes in a desperate attempt to “escape responsibility.” He faces more than 80 financial charges related to the theft of approximately $8.5 million from more than a dozen victims.
Murdaugh’s cash problems allegedly began in 2007 and 2008, when land deals he was involved with failed.
His problems worsened when his son Paul was involved in a deadly boating accident in 2019, which killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the family.
The problems appeared to have escalated further when Murdaugh was arrested last year in connection with millions of dollars missing from a settlement involving the death of the family’s housekeeper.
Due to technical problems playing back the body camera footage of the first responders getting to the scene, both sides agreed to wait until Thursday morning to proceed with the case.