Closing Arguments Set to Begin in Murdaugh Case

Attorneys in the double-murder trial of disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh are preparing for closing arguments as early as Wednesday after four weeks of trial. Arguments will begin as soon as the prosecution finishes their rebuttal case and the jury visits the Moselle property where the murders occurred – a visit requested by the defense this week. 

Highlights of the State’s Case

A crime scene investigation expert, Kenny Kinsey, attempted to demonstrate the angles at which Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were shot to death on their hunting property on June 7, 2021, in Colleton County, South Carolina.

The prosecution introduced a Snapchat video taken by Paul on the night of the murders. Despite Murdaugh’s insistence that he was not home when the murder took place, Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of the video, showing that he was with his wife and son just minutes before the murders allegedly took place.

Murdaugh Family Housekeeper Notes Oddities

The Murdaugh family housekeeper also testified. She said that Maggie Murdaugh told her that she was concerned about finances due to the lawsuit after Paul Murdaugh allegedly caused the death of Mallory Beach in a boating accident – an accident known as “the boat case” throughout the trial. Beach’s family was seeking approximately $30 million in damages, money that Maggie said the Murdaughs didn’t have.

The housekeeper also testified that, when she entered the home the day after the murders, the house was not in its usual order. Pots from dinner the night before were in the refrigerator, which was unusual as the Murdaughs usually left them out for her to take care of. Maggie’s pajamas and underwear were also laid out, which was out of the ordinary since Maggie did not wear underwear with her pajamas. 

Murdaugh’s Financial Crimes Allowed as Evidence

Judge Clifton Newman allowed the admission of evidence about Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes to prove motive. Mark Tinsley, who represents the Beach family and others in “the boat case,” testified about the information he expected would be uncovered after a scheduled motion hearing on Murdaugh’s financials  – a hearing scheduled for just three days after the homicides. 

Several members of Murdaugh’s former law firm and former clients testified about settlement funds that Murdaugh allegedly stole during his tenure at the firm.    

Newman also allowed testimony about a September 2021 shooting after which Murdaugh called 911, claiming someone tried to kill him. The incident was allegedly a murder-for-hire plot to which Murdaugh later confessed. The plan was that Curtis “Cousin Eddie” Smith would kill Murdaugh so his surviving son Buster would inherit $10 million from a life insurance policy.

Highlights of the Defense Case

Murdaugh took the stand in his own defense. Almost immediately, Murdaugh admitted that the voice heard in the Snapchat video was his. Murdaugh said he didn’t tell law enforcement that he was there that night because he had “paranoid thinking” stemming from his $50,000-per week opioid addiction. His dealer was allegedly the same man accused of shooting Murdaugh in the failed insurance scheme.

Murdaugh testified that he and his wife had a good relationship, despite reports that she had spoken to a divorce attorney. He also testified that his relationship with Paul was very close and that he believes that someone who had seen “the boat case” on social media killed the victims.

Murdaugh also admitted to taking money from his former firm and clients. He tried to avoid discussing the details of each case, instead repeating that he admitted he “stole from people.” On cross-examination, the prosecutor peppered him with questions about the specifics of each incident, repeatedly asking Murdaugh if he looked his clients in the eye when he stole their money.

Despite his admissions, Murdaugh remained adamant throughout his direct testimony and cross-examination that he did not kill his wife and son. He repeatedly said that he would “never intentionally” hurt them.

What To Expect Next

Prosecutors are currently finishing up their rebuttal case. A few witnesses remain. After the rebuttal, the jury is expected to visit the scene of the murders to get a better idea of the space. The attorneys will have arguments outside the presence of the jury about the instructions the jury will receive. Closing arguments will begin by the end of the week.

Deliberations could take anywhere from hours to days. The jury is not sequestered, meaning they can go home each night. For a guilty or not-guilty verdict, the jury must be unanimous. If the jury can’t agree on a verdict, the trial could result in a mistrial. The verdict will be highly anticipated due to the high-profile nature of the case, especially in South Carolina, where the Murdaugh family has been prominent for generations.

Related Resources:

Alex Murdaugh’s Murder Charges (FindLaw’s “Don’t Judge Me” Podcast)

Sidebar: A True Crime Episode About a Fake Murder (FindLaw’s “Don’t Judge Me” Podcast)

Learn More About Homicide Charges (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)

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