WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — Witness testimony resumed on Tuesday as the double murder trial of disbarred attorney Alex Mardaugh continued into day seven.
Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife and son at their Colleton County property in June of 2021.
On Monday, SLED forensics experts took the stand to testify. An interview conducted by investigators with Alex Murdaugh from June 2021 was also shown in court, which included him saying the last time he saw his family was at supper. This contradicted the prosecution’s claim that Alex Murdaugh was much closer to the area where Paul and Maggie were killed.
Today, the defense addressed comments Murdaugh made about his son in that interview in June. The prosecution stated Alex Murdaugh had said, “It’s just so bad. I did him so bad.” while speaking to investigators. However, the defense said Murdaugh told investigators, “I can’t believe they did it to him.”
John Beddingfield, a DNR agent who is related to the Murdaugh family and built rifles for the family in the past also took the witness stand. It was determined that he had built three 300 Blackout Rifles for the Murdaughs from 2016 to 2018. One of those rifles, Paul would either misplace or have stolen.
The prosecution heavily focused on establishing a timeline throughout the day.
Cell phone data could possibly connect Alex to the scene of the crime and will likely be examined during tomorrow’s proceedings.
The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
WSAV News 3 will provide extensive coverage. Follow our live blog and watch it live each day on wsav.com and in the WSAV NOW app.
WSAV will be streaming all throughout the Alex Murdaugh murder trial. Follow investigative reporters @WSAVAndrewD and @BrettWSAV for live tweets and keep up with the trial via our live blogs on wsav.com. Tune in to News 3 at 4 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. for full coverage.
ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
9:36 a.m. – Court is gaveled into session by Judge Clifton Newman.
Before bringing the jury in, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian thanked the clerk of court, the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office, and all parties involved. The prosecution agreed with the sentiment.
9:40 a.m. – SLED special agent Jeff Croft takes the stand for cross-examination by defense attorney Jim Griffin.
9:49 a.m. – Croft confirms that the weapons seized from Moselle on June 8, 2021, and shown to the jury yesterday were not the weapons used to kill Maggie and Paul and that those weapons have not been located.
10:02 a.m. – Griffin has Croft hold up a .300 Blackout rifle from the Moselle property.
Griffin asks Croft to explain the difference between steel and lead bullets. Croft says steel is to shoot waterfowl and lead is to shoot doves.
Croft says he did not find any steel shells at Moselle, but steel bullets were used to kill Paul.
10:14 a.m. – Griffin asks if Croft or any SLED agents went to Alex’s mother’s house to look for evidence such as guns, dirty clothes or murder weapons. Croft said he is not aware of any agents going to investigate and collect evidence from Alex’s mother’s house.
10:32 a.m. – Griffin questions SLED agent Croft about his confidence in Alex saying ‘I did him so bad’ during the interview captured on body cam played for the court on Monday.
Croft tells Griffin that he’s 100% confident that Alex said “It’s just so bad. I did him so bad.” Griffin pushes back and asks what Croft did in response to it. Croft said he took a mental note of it and did not pursue it because, at that time, he didn’t believe there was enough evidence to challenge anything Alex said.
Griffin asks, “if the guy in the middle of the circle – the only one in the circle – says ‘I did him so bad,’ isn’t that a significant statement if he actually said that?”
Croft does say it was a statement he wanted to follow up on, however, in a follow-up interview, Croft said he didn’t follow up because “we didn’t make it to that point.” He also said there was no transcript made of the conversation.
“Tell the jury if you asked Alex Murdaugh on August 11th, 2021, ‘what did you mean back on June 10 when you said ‘I did him so bad,'” Griffin asked.
“We didn’t make it to that point,” Croft said.
Griffin asks to play the recording at one-third speed and Croft still said he heard “I” instead of “they.”
Watch the full exchange below.
10:53 a.m. – The prosecution asks Croft about the ammo found at the Murdaugh’s home on Moselle Road. Croft said 300 Blackout ammo was much harder to get during the time of the murders. He also said he’s never worked a murder scene where the murder weapon used 300 Blackout ammo.
11:07 a.m. – In reference to the two-shooter theory from the defense that includes bullet holes coming from several different directions, Creighton Waters, lead prosecutor, asks Croft if people move around. Croft responds they can.
11:16 a.m. – Waters asks Croft to examine several different kinds of unfired shotgun shells found at the Moselle Road property.
11:23 a.m. – Judge Newman recesses for 10 minutes.
11:42 a.m. – The prosecution calls Michael Anthony Knitch, a custodian of records at Verizon Wireless to the witness stand.
Alex, Maggie and Paul’s cell phone data is introduced as evidence. Knitch confirms the data is real.
12:24 p.m. – Knitch confirms Maggie’s last phone call she dialed was at 7:50 p.m. on June 7, 2021.
12:55 p.m. – Judge Newman dismisses for lunch.
2:16 p.m. – Court is back in session.
2:38 p.m. – The defense and prosecution argued about using Paul’s cell phone as evidence. Judge Newman says that the State provided a sufficient chain of custody and proved that Paul’s cell phone had not been tampered with.
2:41 p.m. – John Beddingfield, a DNR agent who builds/fixes guns as a side business, is called to the witness stand. He is Alex Murdaugh’s cousin and assembled two 300 Blackout Rifles for the family in 2016 for hog hunting.
In April 2018, he was approached by the Murdaughs to make a third 300 Blackout Rifle which he did. Beddingfield knew Croft personally before the trial. During the investigation, Croft asked Beddingfield to submit paperwork for the rifles as well as the canceled checks from the Murdaughs.
In total, Beddingfield made three 300 Blackout Rifles for the Murdaughs. The last one he made was in 2018.
3:03 p.m. – The defense begins questioning John Beddingfield. Beddingfield tells the defense that he has recommended 300 Blackout Rifles to others for the purpose of wild hog hunting in South Carolina.
3:15 p.m. – The State calls Lt. Britt Dove of the SLED computer crimes unit to the witness stand. Maggie’s and Alex’s phones were analyzed using three different types of software. Because Paul’s phone had a passcode, it had to be sent to the Secret Service to be properly analyzed.
Lt. Dove says that phone extractions do not alter phone data in any way.
3:45 p.m. – Dove received Maggie’s phone in June 2021 to be examined. Lt. Dove tells the State he hasn’t altered the settings. When Lt. Dove received Maggie’s phone it was on airplane mode.
On Maggie’s phone, there were five missed calls from Alex, two missed calls from John Marvin, and one missed call from Buster.
Maggie’s call logs from June 5 through June 7, 2021 are shared.
4:00 p.m. update:
4:05 p.m. – The jury takes a 15 minute break.
4:24 p.m. – The jury is brought back into the courtroom. The State decides to look at Maggie’s call log from the night of June 7. Maggie had placed a call to someone named Barbara at 7:50 p.m. on June 7. Dove says he believes this was the last phone call placed through Maggie’s phone.
Dove determined there were five missed calls in total from Alex, one at 9:04 p.m., two at 9:06 p.m., one at 9:45 p.m., and one at 10:03 p.m.
A group chat including Maggie, John Marvin, and several other individuals is introduced. At 8:31 p.m., Maggie’s phone received a text from John Marvin on June 7. Cell phone data shows the text was read.
Another message from Lynn G. came in at 8:49 p.m. and was also read.
4:40 p.m. – At 9:34 p.m., a text message from Rogan Gibson came through and went unread.
A text from Alex at 9:08 p.m. was sent but not read.
The State moves to discuss the phone’s activity log.
The display of the cell phone was on at 8:49 p.m. This means that the screen lit up. However, Dove clarified saying that it could have been because of a notification or movement.
5:00 p.m. update:
5:08 p.m. – An orientation change was logged at about 8:49 p.m. Dove said that a human holding a phone is the main thing that could cause an orientation change. After 8:49 p.m., the phone was never unlocked until the following day on June 8 at 1:10 p.m.
At 9:00 p.m., the phone data shows steps and distance traveled. This does not mean steps occurred exactly at 9:00 p.m. It could be a range like total steps from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
At 9:06 p.m. the phone changed to portrait mode which Lt. Dove said is indicative of being in someone’s hand. Forensics can’t tell whose hand the phone was in, only that it was locked.
5:22 p.m. – Alex sent a text to Maggie saying, “Going to check on M, be right back” at 9:08 p.m. which went unread. The next entry on the log is at 9:31 p.m. This means for 22 minutes, no activity takes place on Maggie’s phone.
At 8:17 p.m., the phone was unplugged and 38 steps were recorded. At 8:30 p.m., 43 steps were recorded until 8:33 p.m. After the 8:53 p.m. entry, no steps were recorded until the next day. Maggie’s phone had been collected from the side of the road. It was not collected until June 8.
5:39 p.m. – Court adjourns for the day.
6:00 p.m. update: