Prosecution presents closing arguments in Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Alex Murdaugh sitting in court with his lawyers.
Alex Murdaugh listens during closing arguments in his double murder trial Wednesday in Walterboro, S.C. The 54-year-old attorney is accused of fatally shooting his wife and son in 2021.
(Joshua Boucher / Pool Photo)

Alex Murdaugh’s theft of millions of dollars was about to be revealed, so he killed his wife and son to buy time to figure a way out, a prosecutor said Wednesday during closing arguments in the disgraced South Carolina attorney’s murder trial.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors that Murdaugh, fearing his years of stealing from his law firm and clients would be exposed and hoping to maintain his lofty standing in the community, killed his wife and younger son in the hopes that their deaths would make him a sympathetic figure and draw attention away from the missing money.

Aided by his knowledge of criminal cases, Murdaugh hatched a clever plan to make sure they were at the family’s Colleton County property on the night they were killed, June 7, 2021, Waters said.


“The pressures on this man were unbearable. And they were all reaching a crescendo the day his wife and son were murdered by him,” the prosecutor said.

The defense will summarize the case for his innocence on Thursday.

Murdaugh, 54, faces 30 years to life in prison if he is convicted of either murder count. Investigators said his 22-year-old son, Paul, was shot twice with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, was shot four or five times with a rifle outside the dog kennels on their property.

Jurors began the day with a visit to the crime scene, where at least one of them carefully inspected the door frame of a storage closet where Paul Murdaugh was standing when he was killed, a pool reporter said.

The key piece of evidence connecting Alex Murdaugh to the killings is a video Paul Murdaugh shot from the kennels about five minutes before he last used his cellphone. It took more than a year for federal agents to hack into the young man’s locked iPhone and find it.

South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh now says he lied when he maintained that he wasn’t at the family dog kennels with his wife and son before they were killed.

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Alex Murdaugh repeatedly told everyone, starting with the first investigator to respond to the killings, that he hadn’t been at the kennels that night. But while testifying in his own defense, he admitted that he had lied and that he was there.

“Why in the world would an innocent, reasonable father and husband lie about that? And lie about it so early?” Waters said.


Although the weapons used to kill the victims haven’t been found, an expert testified that the markings on the bullet casings found near Maggie Murdaugh’s body matched those found on casings at a shooting range on the family’s property.

But there was no blood spatter linking the killings to Alex Murdaugh or anyone else, and prosecutors didn’t spend much time laying out how they think Murdaugh could have killed two people, cleaned himself up, disposed of his clothes and weapons, and composed himself in the 15-minute window before GPS data show he left the property to visit his ailing mother.

The prosecution’s star crime scene expert said there wasn’t enough evidence to definitely say whether there were one or two shooters at the kennels.

Still, Waters said, there is enough evidence to link the killings to the financial crimes and to Alex Murdaugh being the only person with the motive, means and opportunity to kill his wife and son.

“As all of these pressures were mounting, the defendant killed Maggie and Paul,” the prosecutor said. ”The forensic timeline puts him there. The use of the family weapons collaborates it. And his lies and his guilty actions afterward confirm that.”

Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh took the stand in his own defense at his double murder trial.

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Waters said Murdaugh had been lying for years to cover up an opioid addiction and the millions of dollars he stole, so it would be easy for him to lie about not being at the kennels or killing his family, including lying while testifying in his own defense last week.


“Always having to stay one step ahead of the game. Always have to literally beg, borrow and steal for over a decade to have the truth from being exposed,” Waters said.

The prosecutor said he thought Murdaugh had rehearsed his testimony and was scared to deviate, so he couldn’t give specifics when Waters asked for details that would seem memorable, such as his last conversation with his wife at the kennels before she died.

“This defendant has fooled everyone — everyone who thought they were close to him,” Waters said. “He fooled Maggie and Paul, too, and they paid for it with their lives. Don’t let him fool you, too.”

The defense has said state agents conducted a poor investigation that focused too quickly on Murdaugh and missed evidence such as fingerprints and shoe prints that could have led to other suspects.

They asked that jurors be allowed to visit the property to help them understand how small the storage room is where Paul Murdaugh was killed and the distance between the two bodies.

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Prosecutors opposed the visit, saying the scene looks different than it did in June 2021, as trees and vegetation have grown and no one has lived on the property since the killings.


Judge Clifton Newman allowed the visit but cautioned jurors about the differences in how the property appears now. They were also cautioned to watch for snakes.

Once closing arguments are finished, the jurors will get their instructions and begin deliberating what they heard and saw during a trial that has included more than 75 witnesses and lasted over six weeks. They will be able to review about 800 documents, photographs, videos of police interviews of Alex Murdaugh and other exhibits while deciding on a verdict.