Prosecutors played footage at Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial Wednesday that may have compromised the South Carolina scion’s long-held claim that he was not present at the scene where his wife and son were murdered.
Lt. David Britton Dove of South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s computer crimes unit said that a video taken by Murdaugh’s 22-year-old son Paul minutes before he and his mother, Maggie, were killed near the family’s dog kennel reveals three voices, CNN reported.
The video clip is just under a minute long and begins at 8:44 p.m. on June 7, 2021, Dove said, adding that he believes Paul was trying to take a video of one of the dogs’ tails, as he had been texting with a friend who was worried about its condition.
While Dove could not identify the speakers, he said, “You can tell that they’re different voices.”
Prosecutors believe one of the voices was Paul, the second Maggie and the third was Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of shooting both of them dead moments later the video was shot.
Murdaugh — once again — broke down in tears as the video clip played.
South Carolina’s chief prosecutor Creighton Waters teased the video evidence in the trial’s opening statements last week. He claimed that there is “crucial evidence” found in Murdaugh’s and the victims’ phone records that can place him at the scene at the time of the murders — and suggested he may have been trying to come up with an alibi in the hours after.
Murdaugh has denied ever being near the dog kennels, where the bodies were found, the night of the murders.
“The evidence is going to show, that these things every one of us carries around in our pockets, that he [Alex] was there and he was there just minutes before with Maggie and Paul just before their cellphones go silent forever and ever,” Waters said, holding up a cell phone.
The disgraced 54-year-old heir to a powerful legal dynasty has pleaded not guilty to killing his wife, Maggie, 52, and troubled son, Paul at their Colleton County hunting estate.
Paul was shot twice with a shotgun near the dog kennels while Maggie was shot multiple times with an AR-style rifle and received a single, execution-style shot to the back of her head while she was face-down on the ground.
On Tuesday, officials testified that cellphone records show Paul spoke on the phone for four minutes with his friend Rogan Gibson about a dog that the latter had left in the family kennels and asked for a photo of its tail in a text message around 8:49 p.m.
When Gibson did not hear back from Paul, he texted Maggie Murdaugh at 9:34 p.m. to “tell Paul to call me,” SLED special agent Jeff Croft testified. Twenty-four minutes later, he texted Paul “yo” and tried to call him five times with no answer.
“He was at the murder scene with the two victims and more than that just over four minutes later … Paul’s phone locks forever. He never reads another text, never sends another text, doesn’t answer calls,” Waters said in his opening statements.
On Maggie’s phone, records show she received a group text message from Alex’s sister about their father’s failing health around 8:49 p.m., which was left on read. It was the last text her phone would receive before it would be locked.
Alex texted Maggie at 9:07, which was never read. At 9:47 Alex texted, “Call me babe.”
Dove testified on Tuesday that after Maggie’s phone went silent, the orientation on her phone changed around 8:53 p.m., waking the screen to activate its Face ID security feature — suggesting that someone other than Maggie picked up the phone since it did not unlock.
The phone additionally recorded 59 steps between 8:53 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., Dove said.
Maggie’s phone’s orientation shifted again at 9:06 p.m., again indicating that it was in somebody’s hands. Two seconds later, the phone gets an incoming call from Murdaugh — who tried calling Maggie three times between 9:04 and 9:06, records show. He also called her twice at 9:47 p.m. and 10:03 p.m.
Alex got into his car to visit his sick mother — who was suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s — around 9:06 p.m., and texted Maggie that he would be right back. He returned to the property at 10:01 p.m. He called 911 at 10:06 p.m. after he said he discovered their bodies, prosecutors said.
Murdaugh said that the last time he saw his wife and son was when they ate dinner together around 8:15 p.m. He claims he was sleeping on the couch when they were killed and has denied ever being near the dog kennels that night.
Murdaugh’s attorneys suggested in their opening statement that “it’s much more likely” there were two shooters — neither of which were Murdaugh — which would explain two separate guns used. They have not said what would have motivated such a murder.
Separately, he is facing 99 separate charges of financial fraud and trying to get a man to fatally shoot him so his surviving son, Buster, 26, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. That matter will be handled at a later trial.
If convicted of murdering his wife and son, Alex Murdaugh faces a minimum of 30 years in prison.
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