WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — Snapchat video evidence was at the forefront of Wednesday’s proceedings as the Murdaugh double murder trial continued into its second week.
Alex Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife and youngest son, Maggie and Paul, at their Colleton County property in June of 2021.
Lieutenant Britt Dove of the SLED Computer Crimes Unit returned to the stand to discuss more phone data and why prosecutors believe it could connect back to Alex as the killer. The defense had a chance to analyze the data and support the statement that Alex was visiting his mother when the killings happened—something that would prove difficult after today’s proceedings.
On Wednesday, the trial began with prosecutors questioning Lt. Britt Dove about cell phone data evidence that could pinpoint Alex Murdaugh’s location on the night of the murders. Questions about whether Alex deleted important data from his phone were asked throughout the morning.
However, the Snapchat video got the most attention during the trial on Wednesday. Rogan Gibson, a former friend of Paul Murdaugh, was called to the witness stand and asked about a phone call between him and Paul on the night of June 7. He would go on to tell the jury that he is 100% sure that he heard the voices of Paul, Maggie, and Alex during the phone call.
Will Loving, Paul’s friend from Columbia, took the witness stand as well. He stated that he could hear the voices of Paul, Maggie, and Alex in the Snapchat video shown to the court. Another video of a birthday celebration was played for the jury. Alex Murdaugh hung his head and began to tear up while listening to the footage. The defense worked to try and prove that Alex was a family man and had recently spent quality time with Paul before his death. Loving would tell the defense that Paul had a seemingly “awesome” relationship with Maggie and Alex seemingly supporting the idea that Alex was not morally capable of committing such a heinous crime.
Proceedings will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning.
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ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
9:35 a.m. – Judge Clifton Newman gavels court into session.
9:37 a.m. – Prosecutors resumed questioning SLED cell phone forensic expert Lt. Britt Dove about Maggie’s cell phone data.
9:54 a.m. – Dove says there’s a gap in Alex’s call logs. Alex’s phone shows data from May and June 4, 2021, but his first cell phone data shows up as a Facetime on June 7, 2021 at 10:45 p.m. Dove suggests the only reasonable explanation is that the data was deleted.
Prosecutor John Conrad asks: “So those calls were deleted, correct?”
“It would appear that way from based off looking at the reports and examination of the phone,” Dove said.
According to Maggie’s phone records, Alex calls her several times, beginning at 9:04 p.m. the night of the murders. Dove said he is not aware of when the calls were deleted from Alex’s phone.
There are also footsteps recorded on Alex’s phone on the night of the murders. There is a nearly hour-long break in Alex’s steps from 8:09 p.m. until 9:02 p.m., according to Dove.
10:59 a.m. – The court is recessed for a 10-minute break.
11:17 a.m. – Court reconvenes.
Dove testifies that someone named Megan texted Paul Murdaugh around 8:30 p.m. on June 7, 2021. The pair begin discussing movies and Megan asks for movie recommendations.
11:50 a.m. – The prosecution enters a Snapchat video taken by Paul Murdaugh around 8:45 p.m. at the dog kennels on Moselle Road. Dove testifies that three voices can be heard in the video.
Alex begins to cry in court as the video is played. No further questions from the prosecution.
WSAV News 3 has obtained the video footage of the Snapchat video taken by Paul shortly before his death:
11:52 a.m. – Cross-examination from the defense begins. Defense attorney Phillip Barber asks Dove if it’s possible to see a text without opening the text. Dove says it is possible.
12:14 p.m. – Dove is asked to read Alex Murdaugh’s texts to Maggie. She receives a text from Alex at 9:08 p.m. that reads “Going to check on M. Be right back.”
She receives another one at 9:47 p.m. on June 7, 2021, that reads “Call me babe.”
1:04 p.m. – The prosecution begins questioning Dove again. Conrad leads the prosecution’s questioning. Dove testifies that 195 steps at 9:22 p.m. and 60 steps at 9:45 p.m. were recorded on Alex Murdaugh’s phone.
1:18 p.m. – Judge Clifton Newman issues a lunch break until 2:35 p.m.
2:43 p.m. – The jury is brought back into the courtroom.
The State calls Sgt. Nathan Brian Varnadoe, from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office to the witness stand. On June 7, Varnadoe was off but got called into work to aid with the investigation. He was asked to find Alex Murdaugh and test for gunshot residue on his hands.
Varnadoe knew Murdaugh prior to the investigation. He testified as an expert witness in one of Alex Murdaugh’s cases during his time as an attorney. He explains to the state how he administered the GSR test on Alex Murdaugh. Varnadoe said that Alex Murdaugh did not appear to be inebriated and he complied with the investigation. He then demonstrates the GSR test for the jury.
Varnadoe described Alex Murdaugh’s hands as clean during the test as well as his clothes.
3:04 p.m. – The defense begins to question Varnadoe. He tells the defense that Murdaugh appeared “shook up,” but fully complied with the investigation.
3:13 p.m. – Rogan Gibson, a friend of Paul Murdaugh, is called to the witness stand. Gibson is from Hampton County and works in agriculture. He describes Paul as an outdoorsman who enjoyed the Moselle property. Paul had been texting with Gibson before he was murdered.
Gibson tells the State that he frequented the Moselle property as well as Edisto Beach and the Hampton property that has since been sold. He said the Murdaughs were like a “second family” to him. Gibson says somebody took the missing 300 Blackout Rifle out of Paul’s truck at a party.
Gibson first communicated with Paul during lunchtime on June 7. He said he heard Maggie and Alex Murdaugh’s voices in the Snapchat video. Gibson never heard back from Paul that night.
At 8:44 p.m. Gibson and Paul attempted to Facetime, but it failed. He asked Paul to send a video instead, but Paul never did. Gibson tried calling Paul 5 times on June 7 and then attempted to text Maggie to ask Paul to call him. Maggie would never respond. Alex Murdaugh tried calling Gibson several times after 10:00 p.m.
He told law enforcement that he heard Alex Murdaugh’s voice on the phone at 8:40 p.m.
The prosecution asks Gibson if he hears his “second family” on the call. Gibson says he is 100% sure he heard Alex and Maggie’s voices in the background of a phone call that night. He tells the prosecution that Paul and Maggie sounded normal on the phone.
3:55 p.m. – The defense begins to question Rogan Gibson. Gibson chokes up when asked if this was a hard day for him. He tells the defense that Paul was like a brother to him and Alex like a second dad. Gibson says that he and Alex Murdaugh had a good relationship.
The defense asks if Gibson remembers the boating accident Paul was involved in that killed Mallory Beach. Gibson tells the jury that he had received some threats but they didn’t appear serious in nature which contradicts previous statements that Alex made saying Paul was being severely threatened due to the boat crash.
4:00 p.m. update:
4:25 p.m. – Judge Newman calls for a 10 minute break.
4:42 p.m. – Judge Newman returns. Harpootlian calls the motive that the prosecution is trying to establish “ludicrous.” The jury is called back in.
The State calls Will Loving, a friend of Paul Murdaugh, to the witness stand. The State questions Loving about a few areas on the property after learning more about his relationship with Paul Murdaugh.
Loving was asked by the State if he recognized any voices on the Snapchat video. The State plays the video again. He says he is 100% sure he hears the voices of Paul, Maggie, and Alex Murdaugh. Loving positively identifies the defendant.
He said Paul sent him a Snapchat around 7:00 p.m. of him and his father riding around the Moselle property.
From what Loving observed, Paul had an “awesome” relationship with both Maggie and Alex. Loving told the jury that the Murdaughs regularly welcomed Paul’s friends over. Loving went to Moselle the Wednesday after Paul and Maggie were murdered. Several friends of Paul were there. Loving says that almost everyone there was crying.
Loving was in his and Paul’s apartment but left after hearing of the murders fearing for his safety.
5:00 p.m. update:
5:38 p.m. – A video is shown of a birthday celebration held for Murdaugh in Edisto over Memorial Day Weekend.
In the video, people are singing “Happy Birthday.” While the video plays, Murdaugh hangs his head.
5:45 p.m. – Court adjourns for the day and will resume at 9:30 Thursday morning.