WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — What we first thought we knew about Alex Murdaugh’s alibi the night his wife and son were killed changed throughout the lengthy trial.
When the disbarred attorney took the stand he admitted to lying about many details in his story, which changed every time Murdaugh spoke to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators. Some legal experts believe his fake alibi is one of the main reasons why jurors found him guilty of murder.
“But what a tangled, web we weave, once I told a lie … I had to keep lying,” Murdaugh told jurors while on the witness stand.
A huge focus in the state’s case against Murdaugh was his history of deception.
Murdaugh has allegedly stole millions from his former law firm PMPED, now the Parker Law Group. Despite, testimony from friends and family who said Murdaugh was emotional and could barely speak the night of the killings, Murdaugh was able to weave a story full of lies detailing where he was and what he was doing on that deadly night.
”The last time you saw Paul and Maggie was when y’all were eating supper,” SLED agent Jeff Croft asked Murdaugh in a June, 10, 2021 interview. “Yes, sir,” Murdaugh responded.
Murdaugh’s first story goes like this. He said he took a shower, ate dinner, took a nap and then drove to check on his ill mother when Paul and Maggie were brutally murdered. But that story unraveled when jurors saw a video Paul recorded, placing Murdaugh at the scene minutes before the killings.
“Come here bubba, come here bubba,” Murdaugh can be heard saying on a video Paul recorded at 8:44 p.m. Paul sent the video to his friend Rogan Gibson because the pair were talking about a dog named Cash, who Paul happened to be watching the night he was gunned down by his dad.
Several friends and families identified Murdaugh’s voice in the video. From there Murdaugh began writing a new story.
In his new story, he said he took a quick trip down to the kennels after Paul and Maggie got there first. He said he wrestled a chicken out of a dog’s mouth, put it in his golf cart and headed back to the house, marking the last time he saw his wife and son alive.
When asked what he was doing when his phone tracked 283 steps shortly after the killings, he simply said he doesn’t know.
“Why don’t you remember what you were doing when you were so busy for this four-minute period? Other than I was getting ready to go,” Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Murdaugh in a very combative cross-examination.
“Well, because that’s what I was doing,” Murdaugh told him.
Another story Murdaugh changed was what he said he did when he found Maggie and Paul’s lifeless bodies. At least two of his friends who consoled him the night of killings say Murdaugh told them he checked Paul and Maggie before calling 911. According to police GPS data Murdaugh would have had to park his SUV, jump out, check pulses and then call 911, in 17 seconds.
“I tried to turn him over … I tried to take their pulse on both of them, and you know, I called 911, pretty much right away,” Murdaugh told investigators in his first interview the night his wife and son were slayed.
When Murdaugh took the stand, he said he didn’t do that. He testified he checked their pulses while on the phone with police. He also disputed that he ever told police he checked their bodies first.
“I’m not exactly sure what I did but I know I got out of my car. I know I ran back to my car, called 911. I called 911, I was on the phone with 911 and I was trying to tend to Paul Paul, I tried to tend to Maggie. And I just went back and forth between them,” Murdaugh said in his testimony.
When he took the stand, he said his decision to lie came to him during his first interview at the murder scene. Murdaugh blamed his decision squarely on his paranoia caused by his opioid addiction, even saying he had a pocket full of pills as he sat in the police car.
“That night after all those things had happened it didn’t go away in a matter of seconds. And I decided to lie,” Murdaugh said.
The state asked the jurors to not allow Murdaugh to dupe them like he had done to so many clients and friends in the past.
“This defendant has fooled everyone … and he fooled Maggie and Paul too and they paid for it with their lives. Don’t let him fool you too,” Waters said in his closing argument.
And the jurors didn’t. They found Murdaugh guilty of all four counts in the killings of his wife and son and sent him to prison for the rest of his life. Murdaugh faces two consecutive life sentences.
“They won this case the day the judge bought in to letting them put in everything.. from kids who lost their mother to someone with pancreatic cancer to a paraplegic,” Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said in a press conference after the guilty verdict. All of that two and half weeks by the time they got done with it. It didn’t matter about final argument. It didn’t matter about what we put up. It would never ever mater what we would have put up.”
This trial caught the attention of many around the country. The twelve jurors also turned in a quick verdict, deliberating less than three hours. Up next, Murdaugh’s defense team will appeal the verdict.