Tense cross-examination to resume after grilling over legal badge and stolen money

Alex Murdaugh is set to face a further grilling from prosecutor Creighton Waters as cross-examination resumes in the double murder trial that has captured attention across the globe.

On Friday morning, the disgraced attorney will return to the witness stand in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, where he is on trial for the brutal slayings of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

In what is likely to be a dramatic day in court, Mr Waters is likely to confront the accused killer head on about the murders.

While the cross grew increasingly combative on Thursday, the prosecutor did not bring the 7 June 2021 killings up.

Instead, he grilled Mr Murdaugh about his alleged attempts to influence the boat crash investigation through the power of his legal badge and his schemes stealing millions in settlement money from “real people” including a quadriplegic.

During Mr Murdaugh’s direct testimony, he shocked the court when he confessed for the first time that he had lied about his alibi on the night of the murders.

He also admitted to his extensive financial crimes and to orchestrating the botched hitman plot – but continued to deny killing his wife and son.

Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Murdaugh’s financial crimes victims slams ‘disrespectful’ testimony

12:31 , Rachel Sharp

One of Alex Murdaugh’s financial crimes victims has slammed his “disrespectful” courtroom testimony.

“Mr Alex Murdaugh you just highly disrespected my brother who died in the wreck along with my mother. you represented them .. you made millions .. and you couldn’t remember he also died,” tweeted Alania Spohn.

Ms Spohn and her sister Hannah Plyler were just children when they were involved in a major car crash which killed their mother and brother back in 2005.

Mr Murdaugh became their attorney and won them a significant settlement.

As they were minors at the time, the sisters needed a conservator and Mr Murdaugh set them up with former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte.

Mr Murdaugh is accsued of stealing more than $1m in settlement money from the sisters.

Mr Murdaugh was asked about the case under cross-examination on Thursday as prosecutor Creighton Waters listed off several of the people who had trusted him – only to be swindled.

Who’s who in the Murdaugh murders case?

12:00 , Rachel Sharp

Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh is currently on trial for the grisly double murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul, who were found shot dead at the family’s sprawling estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on 7 June 2021.

The brutal double murders also brought to light a series of scandals surrounding Mr Murdaugh including unexplained deaths, a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme and a botched hitman plot – in a sprawling saga that touches many across the lowcountry.

Throughout the trial, several names have cropped up in and out of the courtroom.

Here’s some of the key players you should know about:

Who are the attorneys and judge in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial?

Watch: Tearful Alex Murdaugh declares love for wife and son

11:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Tearful Alex Murdaugh declares love for wife and son during cross-examination

Paul Murdaugh advised friends ‘be present’ after boat crash killed Mallory Beach

10:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Paul Murdaugh encouraged friends “to be present” after one of his friends died when he crashed a boat, Alex Murdaugh told his trial.

Testifying in his own defence at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, Mr Murdaugh recounted how a friend of his son shared in his eulogy that Paul had encouraged friends to be appreciative in life.

Andrea Blanco has the story.

Alex Murdaugh says Paul told friends to ‘be present’ after boat crash killed friend

Murdaugh sobs and whimpers as he describes finding bodies of wife and son

09:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Alex Murdaugh broke down in tears on the witness stand as he described the moment that he claims he discovered the bloodied bodies of his wife Maggie and son Paul by the kennels of the family’s estate.

In dramatic testimony, the accused killer sobbed as he faced the jury and repeated the same phrase he was heard making on the night of the 7 June 2021 to describe the scene of the murders: “It was so bad.”

Rachel Sharp reports on his testimony.

Alex Murdaugh sobs as he describes finding bodies of wife and son

Murdaugh denies searching for local restaurant minutes after making 911 call

08:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh has denied prosecutors’ claims that he searched a local restaurant online moments after finding his son and wife’s bodies.

Agents with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had previously shared records from the disbarred lawyer’s phone with the court. The information collected from 6pm to 11pm on the day of the shootings showed a bizarre search by Mr Murdaugh at 10.40pm.

Andrea Blanco explains.

Alex Murdaugh denies searching for restaurant minutes after calling 911 about murders

Timeline of murders, financial fraud, unexplained deaths and arrest

07:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Disgraced legal dynasty heir Alex Murdaugh is currently on trial in a South Carolina courthouse for the murders of his wife and son.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting Paul, 22, twice with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, five times with a rifle on the family’s sprawling hunting lodge in Islandton on 7 June 2021.

He was arrested more than a year later in July 2022 and charged with their murders.

In the 20 months since the brutal double murders propelled the Murdaughs onto national headlines, a series of other scandals, allegations and alleged crimes have also come to light.

Here’s a timeline of the key moments in the case:

Alex Murdaugh: A timeline of murders, financial fraud, crime scene and arrest

Watch: Murdaugh denies disposing of murder weapons

06:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Alex Murdaugh denies disposing of murder weapons and bloody clothes

Murdaugh describes final day with son Paul before murders

05:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh gave a detailed account of how he spent his final day with his son Paul as he testified in his own defence at his double murder trial.

Taking the stand at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, Mr Murdaugh recounted spending the day of 7 June 2021 planting fields with Paul before the 22-year-old and his wife Maggie were murdered at the family’s estate in Islanton, South Carolina.

Andrea Blanco reports on what he told the court.

Alex Murdaugh describes how he spent final day with son Paul before murders

Watch: Murdaugh sobs during testimony

04:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Alex Murdaugh sobs while giving testimony during double murder trial

Murdaugh admits he lied about being at kennels and his alibi on night of murders

03:45 , Oliver O’Connell

In a dramatic – and hotly-anticipated moment – in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday morning, the 54-year-old took the witness stand in his trial for the brutal murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

The disgraced attorney insisted that he is innocent of the horrific slayings but, in a dramatic moment, confessed that he had lied about not going to the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul on the night of 7 June 2021.

“I did lie to them,” he said.

Rachel Sharp reports on his testimony.

Alex Murdaugh admits he lied about alibi on night of murders in bombshell testimony

Tearful Alex Murdaugh declares love for wife and son at trial

02:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Tearful Alex Murdaugh declares love for wife and son during cross-examination

Murdaugh advised friends to ‘be present’ after boat crash

01:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Paul Murdaugh encouraged friends “to be present” after one of his friends died when he crashed a boat, Alex Murdaugh told his trial.

Testifying in his own defence at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, Mr Murdaugh recounted how a friend of his son shared in his eulogy that Paul had encouraged friends to be appreciative in life.

Andrea Blanco has the story.

Alex Murdaugh says Paul told friends to ‘be present’ after boat crash killed friend

Murdaugh trial viewers incorrectly claim to spot author John Grisham in court

00:45 , Oliver O’Connell

Eagle-eyed viewers following the explosive Alex Murdaugh murder trial sparked frenzied — but incorrect — speculation that acclaimed author John Grisham was in the courtroom.

Screenshots of a man bearing striking resemblance to Mr Grisham began circulating on Twitter on Thursday as Mr Murdaugh testified in his own defence about the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Alex Murdaugh trial viewers claim to spot author John Grisham in the courtroom

Murdaugh confesses to stealing from law firm in bid to discredit prosecution’s motive

00:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Alex Murdaugh has confessed to stealing money from his law firm – but continues to deny killing his wife Maggie and son Paul in cold blood on the family’s sprawling estate.

Read on:

Alex Murdaugh confesses to stealing from law firm in trial testimony

Murdaugh snaps in tense cross-examination about faking police power, stolen funds and lavish lifestyle

Thursday 23 February 2023 23:26 , Oliver O’Connell

Alex Murdaugh snapped during a tense cross-examination on Thursday about his family’s prominence in the lowcountry, his alleged abuse of power, and about the string of legal clients who he stole millions of dollars from.

The disgraced legal dynasty heir was confronted by prosecutor Creighton Waters as he took the witness stand in his high-profile trial for the 7 June 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

Mr Waters pressed the accused killer again and again to recount just one time that he could recall sitting down with one of his legal clients and lying to their faces as he secretly stole every dime of their settlements.

Mr Murdaugh was unable to give even one example.

Rachel Sharp reports on a bombshell day in court.

Alex Murdaugh snaps in tense cross-examination about family power, stolen funds

Watch: Murdaugh says he remembers lying to clients

Thursday 23 February 2023 23:00 , Oliver O’Connell

Court adjourns for the day

Thursday 23 February 2023 22:37 , Oliver O’Connell

Judge Clifton Newman calls a halt to proceedings for the day and the jury is excused.

Defence attorney Dick Harpootlian asks to have two witnesses from out-of-state testify in the morning, interrupting Waters’ cross-examination.

Judge Newman says no.

Thursday 23 February 2023 22:32 , Oliver O’Connell

In summary:

Waters wants Murdaugh to recall a specific time he looked into a client’s eye and lied to them as he stole their money.

Murdaugh is basically refusing to do that, saying he can’t recall specifics.

“These are real people, weren’t they?” says Waters.

Murdaugh: “These are people that I still care about, and I did them this way.”

He later adds: “I remember all of these people that I did wrong.”

“Most of the money that I’ve been accused of stealing, I stole,” he concedes again.

Thursday 23 February 2023 22:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters continues to press Murdaugh about specific cases — as well as his interactions with Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte —he continues to respond by saying that he did these things and that it was wrong.

Waters asks: “How many times did you practice that answer before your testimony today?”

Murdaugh responds: “I didn’t practice, you keep asking me…”

Thursday 23 February 2023 22:02 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters asks Murdaugh whether he was living a wealthy lifestyle and whether this theft was funding this lifestyle and not just pills.

Watch: Audible gasp in court druing cross-examination about financial crimes

Thursday 23 February 2023 22:01 , Oliver O’Connell

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:58 , Oliver O’Connell

Things get a little heated between Waters and Murdaugh.

Murdaugh says that Waters has charged him with murdering his wife and son, and he has sat in court for weeks and listened to all this financial evidence. He says he is happy to talk about it but cannot remember all the specific details.

Waters says that the point he is making is not as simple as the fact that he stole money, but he had to sit with each client and lie to their faces as he stole from them.

Waters continues to bring up individual cases in which people were injured and Murdaugh stole their settlements. There are huge amounts of money mentioned and details of victims including one who was rendered a quadriplegic after his accident.

Murdaugh is humiliatingly asked to confirm how much he took from each of them.

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:51 , Oliver O’Connell

In the first case that Waters brings up, Murdaugh is asked about a teenage client from whom he stole a $2m settlement when he had already been paid $800k in fees.

Waters makes a point that he had to look these clients in the eyes and tell them he was on their side before he stole their money.

Murdaugh says: “I admit candidly in all of these cases that I took money that was not mine, and I shouldn’t have done it. I hate the fact that I did it. I’m embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed for my son. I’m embarrassed for my family. I don’t dispute it.”

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:46 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters moves on to Murdaugh’s addiction to opioids.

“You had a pill addiction for 20 years?” he asks to which Murdaugh agrees.

“When did you start stealing money from clients? How long did it take before you started doing that? asks Waters.

Murdaugh responds that he is not sure when the first time was. He says he doesn’t remember as he has been in rehab and jail.

Waters begins to ask about specific cases in which Murdaugh stole money from client settlements.

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:32 , Oliver O’Connell

Turning to the boat crash, Waters asked if he had his assistant solicitor badge with him on the night of the boat crash and whether he took it to the hospital with him that night.

Murdaugh says he does not remember. He confirms he was not at the hospital that night in an official capacity.

Murdaugh is shown a photo of him at the hospital that night with his badge hanging out of his pocket.

Murdaugh concedes: “A badge has a warming effect with other law enforcement. If I was seeking an advantage as you say.”

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:28 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters asks Murdaugh why he had not referred to Paul by the nickname Paw Paw at any previous moment in the investigation.

Murdaugh says he doesn’t know but he called him that all the time.

The implication from the state appears to be that the use of the name is performative, perhaps to engender sympathy.

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:25 , Oliver O’Connell

Murdaugh had blue police lights installed on one of his vehicles owned by the law firm. He says he got permission from several local sheriffs to do so.

They were installed by a person who does such work for local law enforcement offices.

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:13 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters is spending a significant amount of time on Murdaugh’s volunteer assistant solicitor badge and how he would keep it on the front seat, cup holder, or on the dashboard of the car if he wanted someone would see it. He has had the badge since 1998.

Murdaugh says he would keep it visible in the cupholder at least if for example he was pulled over to get better treatment from someone in law enforcement.

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:08 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters and Murdaugh get into a disagreement regarding two different sets of data extracted from his SUV.

Eventually, Murdaugh agrees that the initial telemetry data extracted by the FBI does not contradict the more accurate GPS data from the OnStar system that came in later in the trial.

Watch: Murdaugh argues against family considered ‘prominent’

Thursday 23 February 2023 21:02 , Oliver O’Connell

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:58 , Oliver O’Connell

Waters takes Murdaugh through the storied history of his family’s involvement in South Carolina’s legal profession over the decades.

He goes on to establish that Murdaugh himself is a successful lawyer and is experienced at trial rising to be elected leader of the South Carolina lawyers’ association.

Murdaugh argues about the perception of being successful.

As part of his work, Waters establishes as that through his work Murdaugh has worked on a lot of car crash cases (as we heard in the financial crimes evidence earlier in the trial). This would involve pulling car data from things like OnStar.

In addition to that, it is established that Murdaugh has experience with digital forensic evidence from cell phones, transmission towers, and other sources.

Cross-examination of Alex Murdaugh begins

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:47 , Oliver O’Connell

Court resumes and the jury is seated.

Cross-examination of defendant Alex Murdaugh by lead prosecutor Creighton Waters begins.

He starts by asking if the most important thing Murdaugh is in court to explain is his lie for a year and a half that he was never at the kennels on the night of 7 June 2021.

Murdaugh counters that he thinks all of his testimony is important.

He also agrees with the statement that he was stealing from clients and his law firm since 2010 (a year which Murdaugh cannot confirm but does not dispute).

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:31 , Oliver O’Connell

Direct examination of Murdaugh concludes with his statements of love for his late wife and son.

Griffin asks if he killed Maggie.

“I would never hurt Maggie. And I would never hurt Paul. Ever. Under any circumstances.”

The court is now on a 10-minute break.

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:26 , Oliver O’Connell

Murdaugh talks about Paul.

“He was 100 percent country boy. He was tough. He could hunt anything. He could catch any fish. He could run any piece of equipment. He could use any tool. He could do anything. At 22 years old, he could do so many things.”

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:20 , Oliver O’Connell

Murdaugh talks about Maggie.

He describes her as “just as beautiful inside as she was outside”, “adventurous”, and “devoted”.

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:19 , Oliver O’Connell

Murdaugh says that on Labor Day Weekend 2021 he contacted Curtis Smith (Cousin Eddie).

Griffin asks what his intentions were that day when he asked Cousin Eddie to shoot him.

“I meant for him to shoot me so I’d be gone.”

Griffin asks why.

“I knew all of this was coming to a head. I knew how humiliating it was going to be for my son.”

The jury hears that Murdaugh had two insurance policies worth $8m and $4m with Maggie as the beneficiary. There were no such policies for Maggie and Paul he says.

Thursday 23 February 2023 20:12 , Oliver O’Connell

When his law partners confronted him about the theft of money from the firm and clients, he told them about his opioid addiction.

Murdaugh testifies that he believes they were not aware of his addiction.

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