Alex Murdaugh trial – live: Murder suspect weeps in court as lawyer insists he didn’t kill wife and son

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Jury selection for Alex Murdaugh accused of killing wife, son

Opening arguments in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial have described in gruesome detail the fatal gunshot injuries suffered by the South Carolina legal scion’s wife and son.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, wept while listening to defence attorney Dick Harpootlian describe how his son Paul’s head “exploded like a watermelon” after being hit by a pair of buckshot blasts from a shotgun.

His wife Maggie was shot by an AR-style rifle while attempting to run away at their rural Colleton County property in June 2021, and finished off with a shot to the head from close range, Mr Harpootlian said.

Mr Harpootlian questioned how Alex could have committed both murders in quick succession with different firearms.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters told the court that a Snapchat video sent from Paul’s phone minutes before the murders took place would prove that Alex was present — something he has always denied.

“The key piece of forensic evidence in this case is the cellphones,” Mr Waters said.

Mr Murdaugh has been charged separately with fraud and money laundering charges stemming from his years as a powerful attorney in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

His surviving son Buster was in court to hear the opening arguments.

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Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

He was a high-powered attorney who ran both his own law firm and worked in the local prosecutor’s office.

He was the son of a powerful legal dynasty that dominated a local South Carolina community for almost a century.

And he was a family man with a wife and two adult sons living on a vast country estate.

But over the last 13 months, Murdaugh has had a spectacular fall from grace, culminating in him now being charged with the savage double murder of his wife and son.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more.

Murders, fraud, and a hitman plot: Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

The ‘trial of the century’ is now under way in a courtroom in South Carolina where powerful legal scion Alex Murdaugh is charged with the brutal double murder of his wife and son. But this is far from the only twist in a bizarre and sprawling tale of unexplained deaths, hitman plots and multi-million-dollar fraud schemes, writes Rachel Sharp

Bevan Hurley26 January 2023 05:00

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‘He was the storm’

In a rousing conclusion to his opening remarks, prosecutor Creighton Waters tells the jury that it’s going to be a long, complicated trial.

“It’s a journey. There’s a lot of aspects to this case. But when you start to put them all together, it’s like a puzzle, it all fits together.”

Mr Waters then described Alex Murdaugh as a “storm that was coming for” his family.

“The storm arrived on 7th June 2021, just like the storms that are heading our way now.”

Bevan Hurley26 January 2023 04:00

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Cell phone evidence puts Alex Murdaugh at crime scene

During opening arguments on Wednesday afternoon, South Carolina State Attorney General Creighton Waters told the jury that cell phone data will prove that Alex Murdaugh was at the family’s sprawling hunting farm in Colleton County on 7 June 2021, the night Paul and Maggie died.

“The evidence will show that Alex Murdaugh told anyone who would listen that he was never at those kennels but the evidence is also going to show that he was there.

“He was there just minutes before with Maggie and Paul before their cellphone went silent… despite what he told people, their cell phones will tell us otherwise.”

Mr Waters says gunshot residue found on Alex Murdaugh’s clothes and seatbelt linked him to the crime scene on Moselle Rd.

DNA would also link him to the scene, but they key piece of evidence was cellphone data.

“The key piece of forensic evidence in this case is the cellphones. Alex’s cellphone, Maggies’ cellphone, Paul’s cellphone,” Mr Waters said.

“They were prolific cellphone users, particularly Paul.”

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian, left, and prosecutor Creighton Waters at the Colleton County Courthouse on Wednesday.

(AP)

Bevan Hurley26 January 2023 03:00

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Buster Murdaugh was in court for father’s murder trial

Alex Murdaugh’s eldest son Buster Murdaugh arrived at the Colleton County Court shorty before opening arguments began.

He arrived Alex Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin Murdaugh, and sister-n-law Liz.

All three are on a list of potential defense witnesses.

Buster Murdaugh has largely kept out of the public eye since his brother and mother were murdered in June 2021.

Buster Murdaugh, left, and John Marvin Murdaugh, right, arrived at court for the start of Alex Murdaugh’s trial.

(Anne Emerson / ABC News 4)

Bevan Hurley26 January 2023 02:00

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Prosecutors paint grisly portrait of Alex Murdaugh killing wife and son as key Snapchat video revealed

Prosecutors have described how disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh allegedly murdered his defenceless wife and son at the family’s hunting lodge in 2021.

Mr Murdaugh is accused of brutally killing his wife Margaret, known as Maggie, and his youngest son, 22-year-old son Paul, outside kennels on the estate on 7 June 2021.

Prosecutors told the opening of his trial on Wednesday that Mr Murdaugh had first shot his son with a shotgun, and then killed his wife with an AR-style rifle.

And he told them that they would be deliberating over “a big case, a very complex case” and urged them to rely “on good old fashioned common sense.”

Bevan Hurley26 January 2023 00:45

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Murdaugh breaks down as lawyer describes murders

Alex Murdaugh broke down in court as his defence lawyer described the murders his client is accused of.

Dick Harpootlian graphically described the killings for the jury, which caused Mr Murdaugh to grow emotional as the lawyer said his son’s head had exploded “like a watermelon hit with a sledgehammer.”

“Horrendous, horrible, butchering. To find Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his son you are going to have to accept that within an hour of having an extraordinary bonding with him that he executes him in a brutal fashion … not believable.”

Mr Harpootlian also said the case against his client involved “theories” and “conjecture” and suggested two killers may have been responsible.

Graeme Massie has the full story:

Phil Thomas26 January 2023 00:42

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Mysterious death of Murdaugh housekeeper

On his release from rehab a month after the botched assassination attempt, Mr Murdaugh was dramatically arrested on charges of stealing funds from the wrongful death settlement over the mysterious trip and fall death of the family’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield in 2018.

Satterfield worked for the influential Murdaugh family for more than 20 years when she was found at the bottom of some stairs at the family’s home. She died weeks later from her injuries.

At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall – though her death certificate cited her manner of death as “natural”.

Mr Murdaugh reached an agreement to pay her family $4m in a wrongful death settlement – but they never received a dime of the money. He is accused of siphoning off $3.4m of settlement meant for Satterfield’s sons to a fake company called Forge.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has the story.

Murders, fraud, and a hitman plot: Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

The ‘trial of the century’ is now under way in a courtroom in South Carolina where powerful legal scion Alex Murdaugh is charged with the brutal double murder of his wife and son. But this is far from the only twist in a bizarre and sprawling tale of unexplained deaths, hitman plots and multi-million-dollar fraud schemes, writes Rachel Sharp

Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 23:45

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A botched hitman plot

Three months after Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were murdered, Mr Murdaugh was shot on the side of a road in Hampton County.

He survived and called 911, claiming he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while he was changing a tire on his vehicle.

He was treated at a hospital for what police called a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” but his story quickly unravelled.

One day after the shooting, Mr Murdaugh entered rehab for a 20-year opioid addiction and announced he had resigned from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED).

Just one day before the shooting, Mr Murdaugh’s law firm partners accused him of stealing millions of dollars from its clients going back years and had confronted him about the allegations. They ousted him from the firm that day.

Mr Murdaugh’s version of events rapidly fell apart and, on 13 September, he confessed to police to paying an alleged hitman to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so that his surviving son Buster could get a $10m life insurance windfall.

Rachel Sharp has the full story.

Murders, fraud, and a hitman plot: Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

The ‘trial of the century’ is now under way in a courtroom in South Carolina where powerful legal scion Alex Murdaugh is charged with the brutal double murder of his wife and son. But this is far from the only twist in a bizarre and sprawling tale of unexplained deaths, hitman plots and multi-million-dollar fraud schemes, writes Rachel Sharp

Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 22:45

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Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

He was a high-powered attorney who ran both his own law firm and worked in the local prosecutor’s office.

He was the son of a powerful legal dynasty that dominated a local South Carolina community for almost a century.

And he was a family man with a wife and two adult sons living on a vast country estate.

But over the last 13 months, Murdaugh has had a spectacular fall from grace, culminating in him now being charged with the savage double murder of his wife and son.

The Independent’s Rachel Sharp has more.

Murders, fraud, and a hitman plot: Alex Murdaugh’s spectacular fall from grace

The ‘trial of the century’ is now under way in a courtroom in South Carolina where powerful legal scion Alex Murdaugh is charged with the brutal double murder of his wife and son. But this is far from the only twist in a bizarre and sprawling tale of unexplained deaths, hitman plots and multi-million-dollar fraud schemes, writes Rachel Sharp

Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 22:13

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Judge is going to excuse the jury for the day

After a brief discussion about calling a first witness this afternoon, the judge is now going to excuse the jury for the day.

The trial will resume at 9.30am on Thursday, barring any further technical issues in court.

Bevan Hurley25 January 2023 21:40

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