Need to know moments in Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial

Posted at 7:11 PM, February 20, 2023 and last updated 8:17 PM, July 17, 2023

By Court TV Staff

Prosecutors called 61 witnesses and introduced more than 550 pieces of evidence over 17 days of testimony before handing the case over to the defense in disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial.

Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the trial during the prosecution’s case-in-chief.



Small Town, Big Jury Pool

Out of the 2,600 residents in this South Carolina town, most residents in Hampton would tell you they’d heard of the name Murdaugh. On Jan. 23, 2023, jury selection began at the Colleton County courthouse. Prosecutors and defense attorneys sifted through some 900 summons to find 18 jurors. Potential jurors faced a battery of questions, including whether they knew any of the nearly 200 law officers, friends, bankers and others on the witness list, as well as whether they knew about and followed the case. Three days later, attorneys landed on 12 jurors and six alternates to hear Alex Murdaugh’s case.


Opening Statements

Prosecutor Creighton Waters delivers his opening statement in Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (Joshua Boucher/The State via AP)

The prosecution led with a “bang, bang, bang.”

The lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters, opened the trial with three minutes of graphic description of the scene where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found dead.

Alex’s defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian added to the gruesome details of Paul’s death, saying his brain exploded from his skull and was found at his feet. 

He spoke about what a loving father and husband Alex was, and told jurors there was “no direct evidence” tying Alex to the crime. “There’s no eyewitnesses. There’s nothing on camera. There’s no fingerprints,” Harpootlian said.


The Alibi

Alex Murdaugh maintains he was not present at the time, place and date of the murders. According to his official alibi defense, Alex was on the Mozelle property until a few minutes after 9 p.m. when he left to visit his mother — about 15 minutes away in Almeda. That was the last time Alex saw Maggie and Paul alive. On his way to his mom’s house, he had phone conversations with his son, Buster Murdaugh, his brother John Murdaugh, his sister-in-law Liz Murdaugh, his friends Chris Wilson and C.B. Rowe. He visited with his mother “Libby,” who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and with her nurse’s aid, Shelly Smith until about 9:45 p.m. when he left to head home, arriving at Mozelle at about 10 p.m. On the trip home, Alex had a cell phone call with Chris Wilson. At approximately 10:05 p.m. , Alex discovered Maggie and Paul’s bodies and called 911. 


The 911 Call

Murdaugh’s voice can be heard frantically on the call he made just after 10:00 p.m. on June 7, 2021. He explained he had been gone for about two hours. He tells the operator about the boat crash accident his son Paul was involved in and the threats the family has received related to it. He also tells the operator that he checked both bodies for a pulse, which neither had. 


First Responders

Alex Murdaugh at crime scene

Alex Murdaugh speaks to investigators after his wife and son were brutally murdered on June 7, 2021.

The first officer arrived on the scene at approximately 10:25 p.m. on June 7, 2021. During the first day of testimony, jurors watched Colleton County Sgt. Daniel Greene’s body camera footage from Murdaugh’s South Carolina hunting lodge.

“He was upset, but I didn’t see any visible tears,” Greene said, but according to Colleton County Capt. Jason Chapman, Murdaugh looked tormented. 

Upon Greene’s arrival, bodycam footage showed Murdaugh talking on the phone, standing near where the bodies were found, with a shotgun resting against his truck that Murdaugh said he grabbed for protection.

“This is a long story. My son was in a boat wreck a while back. We’ve been getting threats, I know that’s what it is,” Murdaugh said on Greene’s body camera.

WATCH: Analyzing Alex Murdaugh’s Initial Encounter With Police


The First Police Interview

Alex Murdaugh is interviewed by police in the early morning hours of June 8, 2021, after discovering his wife and son brutally murdered. (Court TV)

Alex Murdaugh sits in the passenger seat of an investigator’s vehicle, dressed in a clean white t-shirt and green khaki cargo shorts. He recalls the sequence of events following his discovery of his wife and son brutally killed near the dog kennels.


“I did him so bad.”

A South Carolina investigator said he heard Alex Murdaugh utter, “I did him so bad” between sobs during a police-recorded interview three days after Paul and Maggie were killed. Others say they hear, “They did him so bad.” Both the prosecution and the defense replayed the video, even slowing it down to listen word by word to Murdaugh’s alleged admission. 


Two Shooter Theory

The defense introduced this theory first in the opening statements. There were two weapons, an AR gun that killed Maggie and the 12-gauge shotgun that killed Paul. Harpootlian also says there was not enough time for one shooter to commit this crime. 


Paul’s Last Snapchat

Paul Murdaugh records a Snapchat video of his dad Alex Murdaugh by a tree. Alex is wearing Kahki shorts and button down blue collared shirt. (Court TV/POOL)

A video from earlier in the day shows Alex Murdaugh dressed in a different outfit than he was wearing when police arrived on the scene, a blue button-up shirt, khaki pants and loafers.


Paul’s Last Video: 3 Voices

The last video saved on Paul Murdaugh’s phone is from inside the kennel. He was caring for a friend’s dog who had injured his tail. Alex, who repeatedly said he was not down by the kennels at that time, but instead said he was napping in the main house, is heard on the video, along with Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. Two of Paul’s best friends testify to hearing Alex on that video. Minutes later, the prosecution says Paul and Maggie were brutally killed.


Web of Lies

Chris Wilson, Hamberg-based personal injury attorney and friend of the Murdaughs, tears up while giving his testimony during Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial. (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)

Chris Wilson, one of Alex Murdaugh’s former best friends, testifies about how he was caught up in Alex’s web of lies and deceit. Wilson said he had no reason to be suspicious when Murdaugh first asked to have the $792,000 fee deposited directly into his account, rather than paying it directly to the

Murdaugh family law firm. At the time, Murdaugh said his intention was to protect money because his son, Paul, was involved in a wrongful death lawsuit – even though the direct payment was a violation of the firm’s rules.

“I’d known him for 30-plus years. I didn’t have any reason not to trust him,” Wilson told the jury.

But after Alex admitted to stealing money from him and being addicted to opioids for years, and all the other lies he’s been caught in, Wilson told the jury while fighting back tears, that he no longer knows how he feels about Alex.


Bad Checks

An employee of Murdaugh’s former law firm, Jeannie Seckinger, testified Alex was misappropriating funds, stealing money and eventually forced to resign. Under cross examination, Seckinger said the scheme had been going on since 2015 without being detected. In all, the firm determined Murdaugh diverted more than $2.8 million this way. The law firm paid everyone back, Seckinger said.


Gloria Satterfield

Michael Satterfield said his mom cleaned the Murdaugh home, but also babysat their two sons and did anything else they asked for over 20 years. She died at age 57 a few weeks after hitting her head in a fall in February 2018 on steps at the family’s house.

Satterfield testified that after Murdaugh promised to take care of his housekeeper’s family, instead he created a fake bank account to claim the money for himself. 

“Did you ever get one cent from Alex Murdaugh?” prosecutor Creighton Waters asked.

“No,” Satterfield answered.


Mother’s Caretaker

Alex Murdaugh’s alibi received a blow when his mother’s caretaker, Shelly Smith, took the stand and testified she saw the defendant between 8:30-9:00 p.m. the night Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed. Smith said it was unusual to see Murdaugh visiting his mother at the time. Smith said he brought a “blue something, looked like a tarp” into his mother’s home nine days after the killings.

Shelly Smith’s daughter launches a GoFundMe page in honor of her mother’s “bravery and honesty” on the stand. 


The Blue “Tarp”

Murdaugh Exhibits Day 9

Evidence # 226, a raincoat, in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, SC, on Monday, February 6, 2023. Jeff Blake/The State/Pool

The prosecution seized a rain jacket found at Alex’s mother’s home in Almeda three months after his wife and son were killed. Gunshot residue particles were later found on the inside of the seized jacket.

The defense tried to keep forensic testimony on the jacket out, saying prosecutors didn’t connect the jacket to Murdaugh through the caretaker’s confusing testimony.

In cross-examination, the forensic analyst told defense attorney Jim Griffin that gunshot residue doesn’t break down and can stay on an object for years unless washed off, thus lending to the defense’s theory that particles from Alex’s father’s shotgun kept in the backseat of his truck could have rubbed off on the raincoat. 


Alex Murdaugh’s Clothing 

SLED agent David Owen opens evidence containing shoes belonging to Alex Murdaugh. (Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)

When the police arrived the night of the murders, Alex is dressed in a clean white t-shirt, khaki shorts and colorful Nike shoes. However, we know from Paul’s Snapchat video taken around 7:30 p.m. that Alex was wearing a blue button-down shirt, khaki pants and brown boat shoes. Two witnesses have testified about those shoes, which according to the Murdaugh’s most recent housekeeper are nowhere to be found since. 


The Bomb Threat

Testimony was cut short after the courthouse received a bomb threat shortly after noon, forcing the courtroom to evacuate. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division swept the courthouse with police dogs, and later around 2:30 p.m., staff and attorneys were allowed back in and the trial resumed.


Alex Murdaugh’s Sister-in-Law 

Prosecutor Creighton Waters questions Marian Proctor, Maggie Murdaugh’s sister, during Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023, in Walterboro, S.C. (Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool)

Maggie Murdaugh’s sister, Marian Proctor, testified that she found it strange that Alex didn’t seem fearful in the weeks after Maggie and Paul were killed. Proctor also wondered why — considering Paul had been murdered — Alex was so intent on clearing Paul’s name in regards to his son’s 2019 boat crash.

Proctor touched on Maggie’s suspicions 15 years ago that Alex was having an affair, but did not discuss it in front of the jury, as Judge Newman ruled the events were too far in the past. In addition, Proctor detailed her final conversation with Maggie, saying she encouraged Maggie to go to Moselle the night of the murders.


Murdaugh’s Third Police Interview

In the interview, which took place at the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office on August 11, 2021, Alex denied killing Maggie and Paul. Inconsistencies in Alex’s whereabouts and recollection of events the night of the murders led to him being the suspected killer.

In the videotaped interview, a SLED agent asked Alex, point-blank, if he killed his wife and son. Alex vehemently denied it, and asked if the agent thought he did it, to which the agent offered that there were no other suspects.


Judge Allows Roadside Shooting Evidence

In reversal of an earlier decision, Judge Newman decided he will allow the jury to hear evidence about the roadside shooting in which Alex Murdaugh allegedly paid Curtis Eddie Smith to shoot him so that his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.

In explaining his decision, Newman said the defense opened the door for jurors to hear about the roadside incident based on questions the defense team asked the state’s lead investigator. Newman said testimony about the roadside incident would give jurors a clearer understanding of the relationship between Alex and Smith.


Cell Phone & Vehicle Tracking Data – The Day of the Murders

Approximately 16 minutes after prosecutors believe Maggie and Paul were killed, Alex’s phone logged a flurry of steps after nearly an hour of no activity. At about 283 steps in four minutes — which is roughly 70 steps per minute, Alex appeared to be running.

According to data from Alex’s Chevrolet Suburban, he left his Moselle home at 9:07 p.m. to visit his mother. Prosecutors believe Maggie and Paul were already dead at this point.

About a minute after leaving the property, while driving 42 mph, Alex’s car passed the spot where Maggie’s cell phone was retrieved the following day. He quickly sped up, reaching speeds of 70 and 80 mph, which was deemed unusual because the rural roads were twisty, full of potholes, and prone to deer crossings. Prosecutors contend Alex took Maggie’s phone and tossed it out the window of his moving car in order to build an alibi for himself.


Live court coverage resumes Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 8 a.m. on Court TV.

Katie McLaughlin and Beth Hemphill of Court TV contributed to this story. Additional contributions came from The Associated Press. 


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SC v. Alex Murdaugh: Murdaugh Family Murders – Court TV