WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — Week five of the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial is underway and Murdaugh’s defense team is set to hear from more witnesses. Murdaugh is accused of murdering his wife and son at their Moselle hunting property in June of 2021.

On Monday, Alex’s surviving son, Buster, took the stand testifying about how close he and his father were. A forensic engineer also testified that his crime scene reconstruction analysis showed that the shooter(s) had to be between 5’2″ and 5’4″ tall.

As the trial moves into the twenty-second day, the defense will continue to ramp up its case. More character witnesses are expected to take the stand, including Alex’s brother John Marvin Murdaugh.

We could also learn more about the hearing that took place just three days after the murder. While prosecutors say Alex’s fear of getting exposed for his financial crimes would have been on display in that hearing connected to the Mallory Beach case, the defense says nothing would have happened in that hearing and it had nothing to do with the murders. 

Sources still say Alex Murdaugh could take the stand in his own defense as soon as Thursday.

The trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m.

WSAV News 3 will provide extensive coverage. Follow our live blog below and watch it live each day on and in the WSAV NOW app.

WSAV is streaming all throughout the Alex Murdaugh murder trial. Follow WSAV‘s Investigative Reporter @WSAVAndrewD and Reporter @JLeonardNews for live tweets and keep up with the trial via our live blogs on wsav.comTune in to News 3 at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. for full coverage.


9:35 a.m. — Judge Clifton Newman gavels court into session.

Defense attorney Jim Griffin says while the defense is still deciding if Murdaugh will testify, if he does Griffin is petitioning Newman to ban the state from questioning Murdaugh on financial crimes evidence. A source tells News 3 that if the defense decides to put Murdaugh on the stand, he is expected to testify on Thursday.

Lead prosecuting attorney Creighton Waters is arguing against that stipulation.

Judge Newman rules in favor of the state and says he will not make a premature decision on limiting the scope of cross-examination.

9:45 a.m. — The defense calls its fifth witness, Mark Ball a lawyer with the Parker Law Group LLP. Ball has been a lawyer for more than 30 years and one of Murdaugh’s close friends.

Ball said he lives about eight or ten miles away from Moselle and said he rushed over when he got the call that Paul and Maggie had been killed.

“To find out what was going on … somebody calls you and says ‘your law partner’s wife and child has been shot,’ you go,” Ball said.

Ball testifies that he arrived a couple of hours after the killings and parked behind a police car. He says there were no barriers put up to block off the crime scene. He claims he told police to block it up but he says they didn’t and several other cars piled up at the scene too.

Ball said the rain “concerned” him because he thought it was preventing the preservation of the crime scene. He also said rain was falling on Paul’s body and police didn’t put a tarp over it. He said he found it disrespectful.

“Quite frankly it pissed me off,” Ball said.

9:56 a.m. — Ball said he was consoling Murdaugh as they were waiting for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to get there. Murdaugh said he kept saying: “‘look at what they did, look at what they did’ to them. I mean right off the bat,” Ball said.

Ball then testified around 1:30 a.m. SLED told Murdaugh along with the PMPED lawyers to leave the kennels and head to the main house. He testified he asked SLED if it was safe to go there and he says SLED said it was. Ball says he was concerned about a potential killer on the loose. Ball claims it didn’t look like SLED had been there first to search the house.

“Where does the crime scene start and stop,” Ball said.

He said the group then helped clean up the house and put the pots and pans up.

10:14 a.m. — Ball testifies he took pictures of CB Rowe’s truck. He said the truck had no license plates and Ball said he saw a jug of Clorox in the bed of the truck.

“I just thought that was odd so I took a couple of pictures of it and sent it to SLED. It just looked odd. You know, two people had been killed and there’s Clorox around.”

10:20 a.m. — Griffin plays video of an interview Murdaugh had with SLED on June 10, 2021, just three days after the killings.

The defense claims Murdaugh says “They did him so bad,” when referring to Paul. The state and SLED investigator Jeff Croft — who was one of the investigators interviewing Murdaugh — claims Murdaugh said said “I did him so bad.”

Ball listens and says, “it sounds like ‘they’ to me.”

10:28 a.m. — Ball testifies that Murdaugh seemed to be a devoted family man. Ball says Murdaugh would always take family calls at any time during the day. He said the pair would be in a deposition and Murdaugh would step out to take a call from Paul, Maggie or Buster.

“Alex took their calls whether they needed a gallon of milk or you know, they had something important to tell him,” Ball testifies.

10:32 a.m. — Ball testifies that the PMPED lawyers were like family. “Unfortunately, Alex betrayed that when he stole the money,” Ball said.

The state begins cross-examining Ball.

Prosecutor Waters asks: “He was pretty good at hiding who really was, wasn’t he?”

“Obviously,” Ball said.

Ball said Murdaugh told him that he ate dinner, laid down took a nap and then went check on his parents. He said Murdaugh told him at least three times that he never went down to the kennels. However, Ball now says he knows that isn’t true because he identified Murdaugh’s voice on the kennel video.

Ball said Murdaugh flip-flopped on whose pulse he checked first. He said first Murdaugh said he checked Maggie’s pulse then Paul’s. Then he said he switched it to Paul first then Maggie.

“I can’t imagine seeing my wife dead and my son dead, in such a brutal manner, so I never really put any stock in that, but it did oscillate,” Ball said.

Ball said the lawyers were focused on finding out who killed Paul and Maggie, whereas he believed Murdaugh seemed to be focused on other things. Ball again says he doesn’t think much of it considering the trauma he had been through.

10:50 a.m. — Ball said Murdaugh was “an obnoxious” user of his phone.

Water asks him if it would be unusual for Murdaugh to go to the kennels without his phone. Ball says he can’t answer that but says it would be unusual for Murdaugh to go anywhere without his phone.

Ball says Murdaugh was a very good lawyer who got good results for his clients. He also said Murdaugh was effective at putting together a good strategy to win cases.

Ball testifies that Murdaugh was also good at allegedly stealing money from the law firm.

“Didn’t know it and didn’t catch him. The way he was doing it was very, very cunning,” Ball testifies.

Ball testifies the law firm confronted Murdaugh multiple times over the misuse of funds even prior to the September 2021 meeting. Murdaugh cashed a check that was written to his brother in 2018 and he also used the firm’s credit card for his own expenses, according to Ball.

11:04 a.m. — Ball said the law firm put the investigation of the misuse of the Farris Fees on hold after the killings. Ball said no one at the firm wanted to confront Murdaugh after he tragically lost his child and wife.

11:07 a.m. — Judge Newmann issues a short break.

11:27 a.m. — The state continues its cross-examination of Ball. The state begins asking Ball about the missing Farris fees funds.

Ball said many of the clients Murdaugh stole from were close friends with Murdaugh. Ball testifies that they were all nice people. Specifically, Murdaugh allegedly stole from one man who was dying from colon cancer and had his home burned down. Ball said he “assumed” the man needed that money.

11:37 a.m. — Ball testifies he didn’t see any blood on Murdaugh the night of the killings. He said he and the lawyers were invested in helping out Murdaugh in any way they could and finding out what happened.

“Everything stopped, the whole world did,” Ball said.

Ball also testifies the following day when he and others went to Moselle to help clean up the kennels, he got blood on his sleeves around his shoulders as well as on his pants.

Ball goes on to say when he heard about the September 2021 roadside shooting, he didn’t believe Murdaugh’s claims that someone tried to kill him.

“That jackass killed himself,” Ball says his initial reaction was. When he heard Murdaugh’s story that claimed someone tried to shoot him, he said “I didn’t believe it.”

11:45 a.m. — The state stops questioning Ball and Griffin begins his re-direct.

Griffin asks Ball if he realizes that this is a murder trial and that Murdaugh had been charged with financial crimes. He says yes.

Ball said the reason he initially thought Murdaugh had killed himself was because not only did he lose his wife and son but he also lost his job.

“After September the third and leading out, I don’t know who that guy is. I mean that’s not Alex that I knew and Alex that I loved and Alex that all of us loved,” Ball said. Ball says he was not concerned Murdaugh was going to go on a murderous rampage but he was concerned about Murdaugh’s mental health.

12:02 p.m. — The state begins cross-examining Ball again. Lead Prosecutor Creighton Waters asks Ball again if Murdaugh told him he didn’t go to the kennels the night of the killings. Ball says he did.

Waters asks: “His buddy, his friend and his law partner of 34 years told you, three times, ‘I was never there.'” “That’s correct,” Ball replies.

Waters asks: “And you know now that’s a lie?” “When I saw the video, a month or so ago,” Ball says.

12:05 p.m. — The defense calls its sixth witness, Dawes Cooke. Cooke is part of Murdaugh’s defense team in the boat crash case that left Mallory Beach dead.

Cooke says when he joined the case, he wasn’t really aware of Murdaugh’s financial situation. They were focused on a potential venue change and other portions of the case at that point.

According to Cooke, the motion to compel financial records filed by Mark Tinsley was not a major concern. They figured the focus of upcoming hearings would be the more pressing issues. Cooke says they didn’t take it lightly, but they didn’t see it as an “existential threat” to Murdaugh.

Cooke says that in the hearing scheduled for June 10, 2021, he did not expect Murdaugh to have to give over financial documents.

12:21 p.m. — The defense stops questioning Cooke and the state begins cross-examining him.

Cooke says he did not witness Murdaugh and Tinsley’s altercation where Tinsley alleges Murdaugh confronted him over the boat crash case.

Cooke also says he was not aware of Murdaugh’s financial situation when he became part of the defense in the boat crash case.

12:32 p.m. — The state calls their seventh witness Ken Zercie. Zercie is a forensic expert specializing in fingerprints, footprints and tire track analysis. Zercie also has a background in law enforcement, first beginning with the New Haven, Connecticut Police Department.

He says he’s testified several hundreds of times in state and federal trials.

Zercie and defense attorney Dick Harpootlian introduce a presentation Zercie created on how to properly photograph a crime scene.

12:57 p.m. — Judge Newman issues a lunch break until 2:15 p.m.

2:23 p.m. — Court resumes with the defense questioning Zercie.

Zercie said he felt like he would be compelled to have done more than SLED Agent Worley. He tells the jury he would not have stepped into the feed room. Instead, he would have started from the doorway and “worked from front to back.”

Defense forensic expert Zercie says investigators on the murder scene should have been wearing botties and protective gear when they stepped into the crime scene and while touching the sheet on top of the bodies of Paul and Maggie.

Zercie explains to the jury how they would have processed fingerprints. He tells the jury that SLED did not attempt to dust for fingerprints at the scene.

The defense works to discredit SLED’s investigation of the murder scene.

“There is much more work that could have been done,” said Zerie.

Harpootlian asks, “Did they do an adequate job?”

“I don’t believe so,” answers Zercie.

2:56 p.m. — The prosecution begins cross-examining Zercie.

Prosecutor John Meadors asks Zercie had done a report himself. Zercie says he’s been taking notes and has some on his computer.

Meadors asks when Zercie created the PowerPoint for the trial and he tells him last week.

Zercie tells the prosecution that he’s not an investigator when shown images of footprints outside of the kennels. Zercie also says he’s never been to the crime scene.

Meadors asks how much Zercie is getting paid. He says his base fee is $350 an hour plus travel fees. In total, he’s logged over 20 hours.

The state shows the expert witness a photo of Paul and Alex’s shoes along with other photos of the crime scene.

The state hands Zercie SLED Agent Worley’s examination report.

The state emphasizes that Zercie does not have a report of his own.

3:34 p.m. — The defense takes over cross-examination again.

3:40 p.m. — The jury leaves for a break.

3:55 p.m. — The jury returns to the courtroom.

The defense calls Barbara Mixson, the 71-year-old housekeeper of Mrs. Libby Murdaugh. She said she knows Alex like she knows one of her kids.

She said Alex would check on his mother almost every day.

Attorney Jim Griffin asks Mixson when she had last talked to Maggie and she tells the defense that she spoke to Maggie on June 7. Maggie had planned to call her back but she never got the call.

Griffin asks Mixson if she had seen a blue tarp in Mrs. Libby’s house. She says no.

4:08 p.m. — The prosecution takes over the cross-examination of Mixson before she is dismissed shortly after.

4:10 p.m. — The defense calls Micah Sturgis, director of digital forensics for Barefoot Investigations. Sturgis says he has been an expert witness in cellphone forensics for a murder trial in the past. Sturgis gets paid $300 an hour for investigative work and $600 to be on the stand.

Sturgis focused his attention on Maggie’s phone. He tells the jury there was GPS data found on Maggie’s phone.

4:00 p.m. update:

4:25 p.m. — The state takes over the cross-examination of Sturgis.

The state looks at a chart tracking Alex Murdaugh’s steps and distance traveled pulled from data from Alex’s phone.

The prosecution then moves to discuss orientation changes on iPhones. An orientation change only occurs when the phone is backlit. It tracks the data on the phone, but not the physical orientation of the device itself.

Sturgis says he cannot tell the jury whether the phone was thrown or bounced because it’s not his field of expertise.

The state shows the jury a cellphone event timeline of Maggie’s phone. Sturgis explains each moment Maggie’s phone’s orientation or backlight changes.

Maggie’s phone receives a call around 9:04 p.m. At the same time the call comes in, the backlight shuts off. Sturgis says he only knows of human interaction causing the light to go off at the same time a call comes in.

The state asks Sturgis how cell phones store data and what version of iPhone Alex and Maggie’s phones were.

The state goes over how many steps Maggie’s phone traveled on the night of June 7.

At 8:54 p.m., the camera app starts and ends at 8:55 p.m. Sturgis says he doesn’t believe someone was trying to use the phone to take a photo.

At 9:04 p.m. there was an incoming call from Alex. Another phone call from Alex came in at 9:06 p.m. The screen was off when Maggie’s phone was found on the side of the road. It takes very little movement to get the backlight to cut on.

The state presents a list of GPS data collected from Maggie Murdaugh’s phone. They then show Maggie’s total steps and distance traveled on June 7.

Sturgis says steps counted is more accurate than distance traveled.

5:00 p.m. update:

5:17 p.m. — The jury is dismissed.

6:00 p.m. update:

WCBD contributed to this story.