Murdaugh birthday video used by defense to show family man 'BACKFIRED' (2023)

Defense lawyers for Alex Murdaugh yesterday tried to portray their client as a family man but the attempt backfired spectacularly as it allowed prosecutors to tell jurors of the financial crimes they say drove him to murder his wife and son.

The defense showed footage of the 54-year-old surrounded by family at his birthday and asked witnesses if they believed such a 'loving' father and husband was capable of the brutal murder of Paul, 22, and Maggie, 52.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters seized on the attempt and grilled Will Loving, a friend of Paul's, with a series of questions about Murdaugh's financial misdeeds - most pointedly, whether he knew that on the morning of the murders on June 7, 2021, the defendant had been confronted over $792,000 in missing fees from his law firm.

The prosecutor asked Loving if he had these facts. 'No sir, I do not,' Loving replied.

Murdaugh's defense attorney Dick Harpootlian furiously threw his cell phone on the table and shook his head as Waters laid out the allegations before the jury.

The defense Wednesday showed footage of the 54-year-old surrounded by friends and family at his birthday, in an effort to cast him as a 'loving' father and husband who could never have brutally murdered Paul and Maggie

Murdaugh birthday video used by defense to show family man 'BACKFIRED' (1)


Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at the family's hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on the night of June 7, 2021.

Here are the key events in the timeline laid out by prosecutors:

At 7.56pm, Paul sent a Snapchat video to friends showing the 22-year-old riding around the estate with his father.

At 8.15pm, Murdaugh's wife Maggie arrived home and the trio ate dinner together. Autopsies showed similar stomach contents in Maggie and Paul.

About 8.30pm, Paul's phone starts moving towards the kennels.

Then at 8.44pm, a second video taken by Paul at the kennels - soon to become a murder scene - allegedly proves that Maggie, Paul and Alex were together.

At 8.49pm the prosecution say Paul's phone locked and went silent forever, never to send another text or make another call.

Between 9pm and 9.30pm, Paul and Maggie were killed - according to the coroner.

At 9.06pm, Murdaugh's car is fired up.

The alleged killer said he went to go visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, in Almeda - around a 15-minute drive.

At 10.07pm, Murdaugh called 911 claiming he had arrived home a to find his wife and son shot dead.

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The defense say that the idea Murdaugh would kill his wife and son to cover up his financial crimes is 'ludicrous'.

His lawyers objected to Waters' line of questioning and argued that the evidence of his alleged financial crimes should be inadmissible.

But Judge Clifton Newman ruled Thursday morning that the defense had indeed 'opened the door' by asking the prosecution witnesses questions which effectively turned them into 'character witnesses'.

Rogan Gibson, one of Paul's friends, had been asked whether he could think of any reason why Murdaugh would kill Maggie and Paul.

Newman ruled that this meant the state could ask the next witness, Loving, if the financial crimes could have provided that motive.

The prosecution say Murdaugh had embezzled from his law firm and attempted to garner sympathy or distract from his corruption by killing his wife and child.

Indeed, in the birthday video introduced by the defense, Murdaugh is seen with his best friend, the attorney Chris Wilson.

Murdaugh allegedly took advantage of their longtime friendship, convincing Wilson to divert Murdaugh's cut of funds from a case they shared to his personal account instead of Murdaugh's law firm, PMPED.

Murdaugh was confronted by the CFO at his firm,Jeanne Seckinger, on the day of the murders about the missing fees from the case.

He told Seckinger that Wilson was holding the fees in his firm's trust account.

Murdaugh allegedly said he needed Wilson to hold the funds to shield his assets because he was facing a lawsuit over the death of 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Beach was a friend of Paul's who was killed while the Murdaugh boy was driving his father's boat under the influence of alcohol in February, 2019.

Wilson brought the scheme to the attention of law enforcement, and Murdaugh was indicted on multiple counts including money laundering and obtaining signature or property by false pretenses.

The judge held a lengthy hearing outside the jury's presence on Thursday morning to discuss which financial evidence, if any, might be admitted.Seckinger was on the stand where she gave evidence about the $792,000 which went missing from PMPED and efforts to retrieve it from Wilson.

Earlier yesterday, jurors were shown a Snapchat video taken by Paul in which the legal heir is seen wearing adifferent outfit to the clean white t-shirt cops found him in after he called 911, claiming to have just found their bloodied bodies.

Prosecutors are still laying out their case, which includes a video they say puts Alex at the scene of the crime moments before the pair were shot dead.

7.56pm: Alex Murdaugh is shown in a Snapchat video filmed by his son Paul. He is wearing a blue shirt and khaki pants, and is planting a tree in the family's yard

10.20pm: Alex called 911 at 10.07pm, claiming he'd just returned home from visiting his elderly mother to find his wife and son dead, their bodies covered in blood. He was wearing a pristine white t-shirt and shorts

12.56am: Murdaugh in police car. He described being able to see his son's 'brain'

He denies the murders, and says he was visiting his elderly mother at the time of the killings.

Yesterday, the jury was shown a video which showed Alex trying to plant a tree on the property.It was taken at 7.56pm, and shows him wearing a light blue shirt and khaki pants.

At 8.44pm, Paul filmed a video of a dog he was looking after, in which prosecutors say Alex's voice can be heard.

All activity on Maggie and Paul's cell phones stopped suddenly after that video was filmed.

Murdaugh claims that the last time he saw his wife and son was when they had supper together around 8.15pm.

He said he fell asleep in front of the TV while Maggie and Paul went down to the kennels.

The alleged killer said he tried calling Maggie before going to visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease. Call logs showMurdaugh tried ringing Maggie three times between 9.04pm and 9.06pm. She did not pick up.

He fired up his Chevrolet Suburban at 9.06pm and he texted Maggie that he would be right back and was going to check on his mother, who lives around 15 minutes away.

Murdaugh called his wife twice more - apparently on his way back home - at 9.45pm and 10.03pm. She did not answer.

Waters told jurors last week, it is 'up to you to decide whether he's trying to create an alibi.'

Murdaugh claims that when he arrived back at the house, hefound Maggie and Paul lying dead at the kennels. He called 911 at 10.07pm.

However, theprosecution allege that Murdaugh was with Maggie and Paul at the kennels.

Citing the video, Waters told jurors last week: 'The evidence will show that he was there. He was at the murder scene with the two victims.

'More than that, just over three minutes later, 8.49pm and one second, Paul's phone locks forever. Never reads another text, he never sends another text, he doesn't answer calls.

'Three minutes after that video has the defendant at the murder scene with the two victims, Paul's cell phone goes silent forever.'

The coroner estimates that Paul and Maggie died between 9pm and 9.30pm.

The trial is taking place at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a sleepy, rural town 50 miles west of Charleston in a low-lying region of South Carolina over which the Murdaugh family has wielded immense judicial and political power.

Indeed, in the courtroom where Murdaugh faces judgment, a portrait of his late grandfather -legendary longtime 14th Circuit Solicitor Buster Murdaugh Jr. -had hung on the wall before it was removed ahead of the trial.

Prosecutors have said Murdaugh killed his wife and child to generate sympathy and distract from his financial crimes, an alleged motive that Murdaugh's lawyers have argued doesn't make sense.

Alex Murdaugh sits in court during his double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., Thursday

Murdaugh arrives for day nine of his trial, hanging his blazer over his handcuffs

Maggie and Paul Murdaugh (left) were murdered in June 2021. He denies the killings. Their oldest son, Buster, is shown, right

But he has adamantly insisted from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times that he was not the killer.

Following the murder trial, Murdaugh will have to face more than 100 additional criminal charges, ranging from drug trafficking to allegations that he stole nearly $9million from clients and other attorneys.

Prosecutors say Murdaugh lured his wife and son to their 1,700-acre hunting lodge and shot them dead.

The state also claims that his life was spiraling out of control amid years of opioid addiction and ballooning debts.

Murdaugh pleadednot guilty in June, and the blockbuster trial is expected to include wild allegations of dark family secrets, financial ruin and hedonistic excess.

In total, over 220 people could testify against Murdaugh in the trial.

Murdaugh claimed he had been visiting his elderly mother who suffers from Alzheimer's and arrived home to find Maggie and Paul dead near the estate's dog kennels



In his second interview with cops on June 10, 2021 - three days after the killings - Murdaugh was asked about the 'traumatic picture' he encountered on finding Maggie and Paul.

Jurors on Monday were played the audio in which Murdaugh can be heard saying:'It's just so bad, I did him so bad'.

Prosecutor Waters paused the video to ask special agent Jeff Croft to clarify what Murdaugh said. Croft repeated: 'It's just so bad, I did him so bad.'

But Murdaugh shook his head defiantly in court as he reacted to Croft's interpretation of the audio and appeared to tell his lawyers: 'I did not say that.'

However, his legal team did not object and the recording continued to play.

Detectives at the time did not seize on the alleged admission as Murdaugh continued to tell them of Paul: 'He was such a good boy too'.


Murdaugh told 911 about Paul's boat accident, claiming that his son had 'been threatened for months.'

The first cop to arrive said Murdaugh 'immediately started telling' him about the February 2019 accident that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead.

'I know that's what this is,' he said.

At the time of Paul's death, the 22-year-old was facing trial for driving under the influence in the boat crash.

The defense theory is that somebody killed Maggie and Paul Murdaugh as revenge for the accident.

Prosecutors claim Murdaugh deliberately made the comments to divert suspicion away from himself.


The first responders so far have all agreed that Murdaugh was not crying.

Although he appeared and sounded upset, police officers and firemen have stated that there were no tears in the attorney's eyes.

Murdaugh's demeanor will play a central role in the case. Prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors on the opening day to watch the body-worn footage 'closely.'

'Watch those closely. Watch his expressions. Listen to what he's saying and what he's not saying,' Waters said.

Murdaugh sounded lucid throughout his dealings with officers that night, even greeting one by saying: 'How ya doin?'

The defense has argued that Murdaugh was distraught after the killings and had just hours before been having a 'bonding experience' with his son as captured in a Snapchat video taken by Paul with his father.


Murdaugh had no visible blood on his white t-shirt, first responders have told the court.

Police described seeing pools of blood under the bodies of Maggie and Paul.

His defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian, described to jurors how Paul's head 'literally exploded ... like a watermelon.'

Murdaugh earlier told 911 he had checked his wife and son's pulses - but when cops arrived they saw no blood on him.

Jurors heard Friday from Detective Laura Rutland who said Murdaugh was 'clean' from head to toe. Rutland added that it looked like Murdaugh had changed following the murders, noting that she found it odd the defendant was sweating but his clothes were 'dry.'

Later, forensic expert Melinda Worley said Murdaugh's white t-shirt and khaki shorts reacted positive to a test for blood.

However, she admitted that the test can also be triggered by bleach and rust.


Horrifying body cam footage of the 'butchered' bodies of Maggie and Paul has been played to jurors.

The 12 men and women have covered their mouths at times while Murdaugh has hunched forward to weep.

Fire chief Barry McRoy told the court that when he arrived Paul's 'brains were down by his ankles' and that he checked neither victim because 'both had injuries that were incompatible with life.'

The defense argue that given the brutality of these execution-style killings, it is simply 'not believable' that Murdaugh - a 'loving' husband and father - could have carried them out.


Harpootlian claimed on Monday that 'one reasonable explanation' for the distance between the shots that killed Paul and Maggie was that there were two shooters.

'There are two people there, there are two guns there, one's a shotgun, one's an AR,' he told the court.

Harpootlian suggested that Paul could have been shot by one perpetrator, while another who was acting as 'the lookout' was surprised by Maggie.

Worley looked bemused, saying 'I wasn't there,' before agreeing with Harpootlian that his theory could be 'one explanation' - not 'the explanation.'


Murdaugh's defense team have attacked several first responders already over their failure to preserve footprints and tire tracks found at the scene.

Sgt. Daniel Greene even noted there were multiple tire tracks in the wet grass which were incompatible with the number of vehicles at the property.

He said he did not inform SLED (state law enforcement) about the evidence because it was 'not part of my job description'.

Harpootlian tore into Greene for failing to take photographs and put anything on his feet to preserve the blood and brains spattered on the ground.

He later ripped another officer for the same reason, telling him: 'You don't know what you're doing.'

Despite his failure to preserve evidence, Greene told the attorney he was 'not aware' of any evidence being destroyed or contaminated.


In the body-worn footage, Murdaugh is heard telling the first cop on the scene that he head been visiting his mother with late stage Alzheimer's.

He said Maggie and Paul had been at the kennels when he left.

But Waters told jurors that data from 'cell phones are going to show otherwise.'

The prosecution say that the timeline established by phone pings places Murdaugh at the property when his wife and son were killed.

The prosecutor stressed that phone records will be critical in the case and the jury will hear that the Murdaughs were 'prolific' cell phone users.


Murdaugh's second police interview on June 10, 2021 - three days after the killings - was played to jurors Monday.

In it Murdaugh broke down in sobs as he described Maggie as 'a wonderful girl, wonderful wife, great mother'.

Murdaugh told cops 'she always said it was her job to take care of me and the boys, she did everything, she did absolutely everything.'

He said their relationship was 'as good as it could be' and arguments between the pair were rare - but when they would clash it was over the amount of time they spent with her family.

Murdaugh said he and the boys would rather stay at their home than visit his in-laws.

Asked about times of friction in his relationship with Paul, Murdaugh said that he would sometimes have to discipline his son over 'irresponsibility.'

Paul had a tendency to have his belongings 'strung out' everywhere, including clothes and guns.

'He would leave anything anywhere, and it was not unusual for there to be guns out there,' he said.

Murdaugh said his son would go visit friends without packing because he had clothes left everywhere.


SLED agent Jeff Croft was called to the stand where he held aloft an AR-15-style rifle and two 12-guage shotguns recovered from Murdaugh's formidable collection.

The guns are not alleged to have been used in the killings - no murder weapons have ever been identified - but the types of ammunition discovered with the guns corresponds to the shells and rounds by Paul and Maggie's bodies.

The ammunition contained in the rifle -Sellier & Bellot .300 AAC BLK - was the same type used to kill Maggie, Croft told jurors.

The agent also described finding 12-gauge ammo boxes at the home - among them, Federal and Winchester, the same brands as the two shells found near Paul's body.

The defense objected to the evidence, arguing that showing the series of weaponry to jurors was prejudicial to their client.

'There's no evidence linking these guns to the crime,' Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin said.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters argued that they were showing how the search for weapons was conducted and how the weapons were tested thoroughly.

Judge Clifton Newman sided with the state and overruled the objections.


In his opening, Waters said gunshot residue was found on the seatbelt of Murdaugh's car, as well as on a raincoat discovered at his mother's home.

Murdaugh says he arrived home to find his wife and son shot dead after visiting his elderly mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer's.

However, Murdaugh was in possession of a shotgun when police arrived - which he said he had grabbed from the house because he feared the killers were still 'out there.'

In earlier court filings, the defense argued the amount of residue found was 'inconsistent' with the prosecution theory that Paul was shot at close range.

The defense say that the prosecution relies solely on circumstantial evidence.

In his opening, Harpootlian told jurors: 'There's no direct evidence. There's no eyewitnesses. There's nothing on camera. There's no fingerprints. There's no forensics tying him to the crime. None.'

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