WALTERBORO, S.C. — Week three of the double murder trial of embattled former attorney Alex Murdaugh is underway. Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife and youngest son, Maggie and Paul, at the family’s Colleton County property in June of 2021.
Last week, explosive cell phone video was shown to the jury which debunked Murdaugh’s alibi on the day of the murders. State weapons experts and telecommunications representatives also testified. The bookkeeper of Alex’s former law firm took the stand highlighting Alex’s alleged financial crimes.
Today, Alex Murdaugh’s financial crimes were admitted as prosecutors worked to establish a motive. Mark Tinsley, the attorney for the Mallory Beach family, offered powerful testimony stating Alex had told him that he was broke and did not have the money to pay the Beach family, but Tinsley did not believe him.
Mushelle Smith, the caregiver for Alex Murdaugh’s mother, also testified on Monday. Smith said that Murdaugh had told her at the funeral to say he had been gone for 30-40 minutes when Smith had said he had only been gone for about 20 minutes. Smith also discussed the item that Murdaugh was seen carrying into his mother’s home which was described as a blue tarp-like material. The prosecution and the defense would go on to argue whether Smith was able to identify the blue raincoat found in Alex Murdaugh’s mother’s home.
Several more witnesses were called to the stand after lunch including Natasha Moodie, a Consumer Resolution Associate for Bank of America, who was the first witness testifying about financial crimes that were allowed before the jury.
The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday with the prosecution bringing in more witnesses to testify on Alex’s alleged financial crimes.
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ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
9:30 a.m. – Proceedings resume.
9:40 a.m. – The prosecution called Mark Tinsley who represents the family of Mallory Beach to the witness stand.
9:56 a.m. – Tinsley said Alex told him that he was broke and had no money to pay the Beach family. Tinsley said he didn’t believe Alex because of the number of lawsuits he thinks Alex was settling, so he filed a motion to compel in October 2020.
“I know that he’s actively making money, so there’s no way he’s broke,” Tinsley said.
10:21 a.m. – Tinsley said after Maggie and Paul were killed he considered ending the boat crash lawsuit against Alex. Tinsley said he believed at that time if Alex was a victim of a vigilante killer a jury would have never ruled against Alex.
“Pretty quickly, I recognized that the case against Alex – if he were a victim of some vigilante – would in fact be over,” Tinsley said. “So if Alex had been victimized by a vigilante, nobody would have brought a verdict back against Alex and I had other defendants in the case so I would’ve ended the case against Alex.”
Tinsley and defense attorney Phillip Barber had a combative back-and-forth over the motion to compel that Tinsley filed in the boat crash case.
Barber: “The expectation of the outcome of a hearing on June 10th was not that you’re going to get to launch a full-scale forensic audit because you had a conversation with someone, who said, whose lawyer said ‘oh he’s broke,’ and you didn’t believe it.” That’s not what’s going to happen is it?”
“I don’t think you need a full-scale forensic audit for something a five-year-old could see,” Tinsley said. Tinsley goes on to say the point of his motion was to put pressure on Alex to produce something to report on his finances to determine if he actually didn’t have any money.
11:05 a.m. – The prosecution calls Ronnie Crosby to the witness stand. Crosby is a former law partner of Alex.
11:13 a.m. – Crosby testified he along with the other PMPED attorneys were with Alex following the killings to console Alex. Crosby said he was at Alex’s home during the law enforcement interview following the murder as friends and not as lawyers.
11:21 a.m. – Judge Newman issues a five-minute break and says when he returns he will announce his decision on whether or not he’ll allow the financial crime evidence to be included in the trial.
11:36 a.m. – Newman grants the motion to admit the financial crimes evidence as it is an exception showing “logical relevance” to the case as a motive.
11:53 a.m. – Jury enters the courtroom.
11:58 a.m. – After a huge win for the prosecution with the judge’s ruling on the admission of evidence on Alex’s alleged financial crimes, the jury is welcomed back into the courtroom. The financial crimes evidence is key to the prosecution because it is arguing that the financial crimes Alex committed give him a motive to kill Maggie and Paul.
12:01 p.m. – The prosecution calls Muschelle “Shelley” Smith to the witness stand. Smith is the caregiver for Alex Murdaugh’s mother.
12:24 p.m. – Smith testifies that in the days after Paul and Maggie were killed, Alex told her that he had been at his mom’s house for 30 to 40 minutes that night. However, Smith said Alex was not actually at the home for that long. Smith said the conversation upset her and that she called her brother to tell him about it.
Smith was emotional as she testified.
“They were a good family and I loved working there. And I’m sorry all this happened,” Smith said while crying.
12:46 p.m. – Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins cross-examining Smith. Griffin folded a blue tarp in the courtroom and asks Smith if resembles the “blue something” that he walked into the home with. Smith said that it did look like it.
Griffin then asks if Smith would mix up a blue tarp and a blue raincoat. She said she would not.
1:02 p.m. – Griffin and Smith discuss her contradicting statements. Griffin brings up that her initial interview with SLED where she told them that Alex was at his mother’s home for 30 to 35 minutes. However, in court on Monday, Smith testified that Alex was there for 20 minutes.
1:14 p.m. – Court breaks for lunch until 2:30 p.m.
2:39 p.m. – The jury returns to the courtroom.
The prosecution begins questioning Smith regarding her testimony.
She says tells the State that he said something to the effect of “if somebody asks you, I was here for 30-40 minutes.”
Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins cross-examining Smith again and asks if she has seen the blue raincoat before to which she says “no.”
2:55 p.m. – The State calls agent Kristen Moore of SLED to the witness stand. She’s a special agent assigned to the crime scene unit and was involved in the investigation of Alex Murdaugh including executing a search warrant on his mother’s home on Sep. 16.
Agents were advised to look for a “blue in color tarp-like material.” Agent Moore is asked to describe the blue tarp that was located inside a storage container in a bedroom. A blue raincoat was also located by SLED agents on the second floor.
3:07 p.m. – The defense starts to cross-examine Moore.
The defense asks about the blue tarp that was seized. Moore says that she did not do any testing on the tarp. Defense attorney Jim Griffin asks Moore if she knows the size of the raincoat. The defense asks Judge Newman if Moore can open the box and look at the raincoat to determine the size. Moore cannot find a size and the defense asks her to hold the raincoat up for the jury.
3:22 p.m. – The State calls William McElveen to the witness stand. He grew up in Columbia, S.C. and was friends with Paul Murdaugh. He often spent the summers in Edisto.
McElveen describes Maggie Murdaugh as a “very nice lady” and approved of his friendship with Paul. He goes on to say that Alex Murdaugh took in Paul’s friends as if they were family.
He tells the State it was not common to find firearms down at the kennels. McElveen said he can’t remember a time when he saw firearms left at the sheds.
3:35 p.m. – The defense begins cross-examining McElveen.
McElveen told defense attorney Jim Griffin that Paul and Alex’s relationship was “very good.”
“They were kind of best friends, in a way… they were close,” McElveen testified. “It was great too, I’ve never seen anything negative,” McElveen said of Maggie and Alex’s relationship.
He says Alex was crying and hugging Paul’s friends when he visited the property.
3:41 p.m. – Judge Newman orders the jury to take a 15 minute break.
4:00 p.m. update:
4:19 p.m. – Harpootlian and Waters argue about Shelley Smith’s testimony. Judge Newman denies Harpootlian’s objection to prevent the State from offering testimony.
The jury is brought back in.
4:20 p.m. – Natasha Moodie, a Consumer Resolution Associate for Bank of America, is called to the witness stand by the State. She is asked to review bank records. This makes Moodie the first witness testifying about financial crimes that is allowed before the jury.
4:27 p.m. – The State calls Jamie Hall, Evidence Custodian of the West Columbia Police Department, to the witness stand. In 2015, she began working for SLED. In 2021, she was a forensic technician for SLED and focused on GSR testing.
The State asks Hall to open a box that she had processed for the investigation to determine the contents. There is a pair of green cargo shorts and a white teacher inside brown paper bags within the box from the night of the murders.
5:00 p.m. update:
5:06 p.m. – Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins cross-examining Hall. She continues to describe the examination process of the garments.
5:15 p.m. – The jury is dismissed for the day and will return on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.
Judge Newman listens to the basis for objections from the defense about information related to the rain jacket. The prosecution and defense disagree about the testimony made by Shelley earlier in the day. Defense claims that evidence related to the rain jacket is extremely prejudicial.
5:23 p.m. – Court adjourns for the day.
6:00 p.m. update: