Alex Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes will be presented to the jury at his murder trial, in a major blow to the disgraced former attorney’s case.
Judge Clifton Newman ruled on Monday that the evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial fraud can be considered by the jury with regards to its role in establishing a motive.
Mr Murdaugh is accused of shooting dead his wife Maggie and son Paul at the kennels of the family’s vast hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on 7 June 2021.
Separately, he is facing around 100 charges for stealing $8m in settlement money from clients at his law firm.
Until now, testimony about his alleged financial crimes was heard without jurors present.
Also on Monday – in the jury’s presence – the caretaker of Mr Murdaugh’s mother took the stand where she cast doubts on his alibi on the night of the murders.
Shelly Smith sobbed as she said that a “fidgety” Mr Murdaugh showed up late at his parents’ home that night and stayed for only 20 minutes. Days later, she said he told her to say he had been there for 30-40 minutes and offered to pay for her wedding.
Alex Murdaugh murder trial
22:41 , Oliver O’Connell
Court adjourns for the day.
22:41 , Oliver O’Connell
The prosecution askes if the amount of GSR particles on the inside of the blue raincoat is consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped in it.
Ms Fletcher says yes.
No further questions.
Cross-examination of Ms Fletcher will begin at 9.30am on Wednesday morning.
22:36 , Oliver O’Connell
Ms Fletcher says with the number of GSR particles she found, if they were transferred from other objects, then those would have to have been covered in a significant amount of particles themselves.
22:34 , Oliver O’Connell
Moving on to the testing of the controversial blue raincoat, Ms Fletcher explains that it was so large that the garment had to be laid out across two tables.
She continues by explaining that they conducted particle lists across the whole of the jacket, both inside and out, including in pockets.
A total number of 25 particle lifts were conducted — 13 were taken from the outside and 12 from the interior.
A total of 38 particles were found on the inside of the jacket — there were likely more to be found but she stopped counting.
Ms Fletcher has not yet said how many particles were found on the outside of the garment.
She testifies that the jacket either obtained the particles through transfer or if it was worn inside out and near the discharge of a weapon.
One particle was found on the outside of the hood, but three were found on the inside.
22:17 , Oliver O’Connell
One GSR particle was found on the seatbelt buckle taken from Mr Murdaugh’s SUV.
It could have got there from either object transfer or proximity to a gunshot. In this case, it is most likely object transfer as no weapon was discharged from the vehicle.
22:09 , Oliver O’Connell
One GSR particle was also found on Mr Murdaugh’s hands.
This indicates one of three things, Ms Fletcher: discharge of a firearm, proximity to a gunshot, or transfer from another object.
No particles were found on his shoes.
22:05 , Oliver O’Connell
On the shorts, GSR particles were found on both the right and left groin areas and were either in the vicinity of a gunshot or were transferred from another object.
22:03 , Oliver O’Connell
After an explanation of GSR testing and SLED policy, Ms Flethcer examines Mr Murdaugh’s white t-shirt.
She and her colleague both noted the smell of fresh laundry detergent when the t-shirt evidence bag was unsealed.
There was light staining on the shirt, but the cargo shorts Mr Murdaugh had been wearing were clean.
GSR particles were found on the shirt on the right sleeve, right chest (two particles) and left sleeve, left chest (one particle).
Ms Fletcher testifies that in her opinion the item of clothing was either in the vicinity of a discharged firearm or came into contact with an object with GSR on it.
New Witness: Megan Fletcher, SLED forensic scientist
21:40 , Oliver O’Connell
The state’s next witness is Megan Fletcher, the SLED forensic scientist who will speak about the gunshot residue evidence (GSR).
Yesterday, the court heard about the collection of the GSR trace evidence, Ms Fletcher is now expected to reveal what the results were pertaining to the evidence collected from the murder scene and Murdaugh properties.
21:26 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby says that when Mr Murdaugh would come into the offices after the murders (but before his termination) he would fall asleep at his desk, said he was having trouble sleeping, and lost weight. He was also taking medication to help him with anxiety.
He also testifies that Mr Murdaugh was carrying a gun a month after the murders. Mr Crosby had never seen him carry a gun around for protection before.
Court takes its mid-afternoon break.
21:19 , Oliver O’Connell
In cross-examination, Mr Crosby recalls going to the local mechanic’s shop where Paul’s car was to see if there were any firearms in the vehicle or if he had removed any (he checked surveillance footage).
Defence attorney Jim Griffin asks a lot of questions about the handling of the crime scene on the night of the shootings in an effort to pick holes in the investigation.
“I assumed whatever was going on was being done with procedures,” said Mr Crosby.
Mr Griffin asks how Mr Murdaugh’s clothes were collected. He remembers him dropping them into a bag held open by a SLED agent.
20:56 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby recalls the evening he was called to partner Danny Henderson’s house to see the records that had been uncovered confirming Mr Murdaugh’s thefts.
He immediately realised how bad things were and was offered a drink. Asked if he had one, he replies: “Yeah, ultimately more than one.”
Knowing the extent of Mr Murdaugh’s misdeeds, Mr Crosby said he knew he would have to be fired.
While he didn’t attend the meeting the next day at which Mr Murdaugh was confronted, he said he heard that he confessed and said “he knew he was going to get caught at some point in time”.
Asked what he would have done if he had found out about Mr Murdaugh’s crimes earlier, he said: “If I had become aware of it, he would have been asked to resign or I would have forced a vote and he would have been terminated under our contract.”
He adds that he would have turned the case over to law enforcement and reported him to the South Carolina bar which was ultimately what happened.
20:44 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby says that in the aftermath of the murders the law firm family rallied around Mr Murdaugh in support.
Questions about the missing $792k stopped being asked.
20:35 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby explains how he heard about the murders and rushed to the Moselle Road property at about 11pm that night.
He said he stayed until 3.30am but went home to get some sleep.
Asked about what Mr Murdaugh had told him about his movements that night, he says he fell asleep on the couch when Maggie and Paul went to the kennels and then went to visit his mother.
The prosecution plays the video taken by Paul of Cash the puppy at the kennels.
Mr Crosby — as Paul’s friends were asked before — is asked to identify the voices he could hear on the video. He names Paul, Maggie, and Alex.
Asked how sure he was about whom the voices belonged to, he replies “100 per cent”.
20:27 , Oliver O’Connell
An emotional moment in court as Mr Crosby is asked about Paul Murdaugh.
“I didn’t think it would be this hard,” he said, tearing up.
He explains that he had known Paul since he was born and was known by him as “Uncle Ronnie”. His son had been Paul’s friend and they would go hunting together.
20:25 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby says he was told in May of 2021 that Mr Murdaugh may have been trying to hide income as the boat crash case progressed.
“Oh f*** no he did not,” he recalls saying, noting that it would be illegal and unethical.
He did not suspect any theft was going on at that point.
20:17 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Crosby characterises Mr Murdaugh as a “very good lawyer”, who was “very good at reading people” and “very good at understanding people”.
He adds that Mr Murdaugh was “very good at making people believe he cared about them and building a rapport and trust with them”.
Mr Crosby recalls that Mr Murdaugh lost out on real estate transactions when the market went bad in the global financial crisis.
He also gives a preview of the testimony relating to the death of Gloria Satterfield and the insurance claim that followed that the jury has not yet heard.
New Witness: Ronnie Crosby, former law partner of Alex Murdaugh
20:01 , Oliver O’Connell
The state calls its next witness, Parker Law Group attorney Ronnie Crosby, one of Mr Murdaugh’s former law partners.
He explains how the bonus system worked at the former firm.
19:56 , Oliver O’Connell
Following the lunch break, court resumes with a moment of levity relating to a poor-quality transcript provided to the defence.
Defence Attorney Dick Harpootlian had complained about its quality and Judge Clifton Newman clarified that it was not from the in-house court reporters but was from an external company.
Mr Harpootlian says he had no intention of impugning the quality of the South Carolina court reporting but said it was the work of a “northern company” to much laughter from the gallery.
Full story: CFO’s testimony about Murdaugh’s financial crimes
19:08 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO and COO at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, testified in Colleton County Courthouse for a second time on Tuesday morning.
Last week, she testified in the absence of the jury before the judge determined that evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes were allowed to be presented at his murder trial.
Here’s our full story from last week:
Court breaks for lunch
18:45 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger has left the stand and the court is breaking for lunch.
Testimony from a new witness will resume at 2.40pm.
Defence points out financial crimes weren’t known on day of murders
18:37 , Rachel Sharp
Continuing on with this argument, the defence sought to point out that Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes hadn’t come to light yet on the day of the murders – casting doubt on the potential motive that he killed Maggie and Paul to distract from and buy him time in his fraud scheme.
Under cross-examination, Ms Seckinger confirmed that evidence of his alleged financial fraud had been there in the company financials for years before the murders and had never been discovered.
She had no prior reason to suspect he was stealing money – and clients weren’t calling up to demand their money – and so she hadn’t dug into the records, she said.
Ms Seckinger also confirmed that she stopped delving into the missing money as soon as Mr Murdaugh learned his father was in hospital – something the defence used to claim had already delayed the financial probe, suggesting he did not need to kill his wife and son for that same purpose.
When asked if she knew that Mr Murdaugh had no life insurance on Maggie and Paul, Ms Seckinger responded: “I have no awareness of that.”
This was all used by Mr Griffin to indicate that Mr Murdaugh’s finances were not being exposed at the time of the murders.
However, under redirect, Ms Seckinger testified that Mr Murdaugh’s crimes were on the cusp of being uncovered.
“Was that all on the cusp of being uncovered?” asked Mr Waters.
“Yes,” she replied.
18:21 , Rachel Sharp
Under cross-examination, Mr Griffin seeks to downplay the significance of the 7 June confrontation over the missing money.
Ms Seckinger confirmed that she did not accuse Mr Murdaugh of stealing money that day.
She only questioned him about where the money was and whether he was trying to hide the money from the Beach family lawsuit, she said.
“I had my suspicions about whether it was really in there, but we were not pursuing it as stolen money,” she said.
Cross-examination of Jeanne Seckinger
18:16 , Rachel Sharp
Under cross-examination, attorney Jim Griffin seeks to show Ms Seckinger was personally upset that Mr Murdaugh was stealing money from the law firm.
“I take it very personally that this happened… it’s a big betrayal of trust,” she confirmed.
In total, she confirmed that PMPED partners had to pay out more than $5m to Mr Murdaugh’s victims, to reimburse them for the money that he had stolen over the years.
Jurors reminded purpose of financial crimes evidence
17:55 , Rachel Sharp
Jurors were reminded that the evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are not to be considered as evidence of his character.
Judge Newman told jurors that the evidence is solely for the “limited purpose of assisting the state in proving a motive”.
Dramatic closing lines from Jeanne Seckinger
17:46 , Rachel Sharp
As the direct examination drew to a close, Ms Seckinger was asked how long she had known Mr Murdaugh.
She responded that she had known him since she was 16.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters then asked how well she now thinks she knows him – after discovering he had allegedly stolen millions of dollars from his law firm clients.
“I don’t think I ever really knew him,” she replied.
“I don’t think anybody does.”
CFO reveals she is related to Russel Laffitte
17:30 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger continues to testify about a string of cases which Mr Murdaugh stole money from.
In many of the cases, the money was sent to the fake Forge account.
Some of the payments went through Palmetto State Bank and its former CEO Russell Laffitte.
Mr Laffitte would act as a conservator and direct the money to the bank as though to hold them for the beneficiary – before sending them to Mr Murdaugh’s personal accounts.
Ms Seckinger told the court that Mr Laffitte is her brother-in-law.
He was convicted of financial fraud charges in November 2022 connection to Mr Murdaugh’s alleged white collar fraud schemes.
WATCH the trial live here:
17:20 , Rachel Sharp
Jurors shown slew of checks allegedly stolen by Murdaugh
17:02 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger is now going through a string of payments that were allegedly stolen by Mr Murdaugh.
She said that the law firm has had to pay it back to the clients itself.
“We had to pay all that back because Alex stole it,” she said.
Jeanne Seckinger back on the stand
16:42 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO of Mr Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, is back on the stand.
Context: The boat crash
16:37 , Rachel Sharp
Mallory Beach, 19, died in a 2019 crash in the Murdaugh family boat.
Paul was allegedly drunk driving the boat at the time and crashed it, throwing Beach overboard. Her body washed ashore a week later.
Paul was charged with multiple felonies over the boat wreck and was facing 25 years in prison at the time of his murder.
The Beach family also filed a lawsuit against Mr Murdaugh over her wrongful death.
The lawsuit was causing his finances to come under intense scrutiny and a hearing was scheduled for the week of the murders. It was postponed following Maggie and Paul’s murders.
Court takes a brief break
16:22 , Rachel Sharp
Testimony will resume soon.
CFO testifies that law firm then discovered he had
16:20 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger testified that over the coming months, PMPED partners learned that Mr Murdaugh had been stealing money from the law firm.
He was allegedly swindling millions from the law firm clients – by moving money into a fake Forge account and into his own personal accounts – and pocketing it himself.
The probe reached a head on 3 September 2021 when the PMPED partners had discovered checks showing funds were being sent to the fake account and to Mr Murdaugh’s personal accounts, she said.
They spoke to Mr Murdaugh’s brother Randy and told him first and he agreed they needed to confront Mr Murdaugh, she said.
The partners then met with Mr Murdaugh that day and he “confessed” to the financial fraud.
PMPED forced him to resign.
CFO says deaths put their probe of missing money on hold
16:15 , Rachel Sharp
On the night of 7 June 2021, Ms Seckinger told the court she heard about Maggie and Paul’s murders.
She said it was “very shocking” and “very scray”.
“Nobody knew what was going on,” she said.
Their brutal murders put a hold on the law firm’s investigation into the missing funds because they were all “worried” about Mr Murdaugh, she said.
“He was eratic, we knew he was taking pills, we were just worried about him… we weren’t going to harass him about money… when his family had been killed,” she said.
“It wasnt even on our mind at that point.”
CFO reveals she confronted Murdaugh about missing $792,000 on day of murders
16:10 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger testified that she confronted him over the missing $792,000 payment on the day that his wife and son were murdered.
On the morning of 7 June 2021, she said that she went upstairs to Mr Murdaugh’s office at PMPED and he asked her “what do you need now?”.
“He was clearly disgusted with me,” she testified.
She said she told him she had reason to believe he had received the funds himself and she needed proof of the money.
Mr Murdaugh insisted he had the money but she said she needed proof.
During their conversation, she said Mr Murdaugh got a phone call telling him that his sick father Randy’s condition was terminal and they stopped talking about the money and instead spoke as friends. Randy died three days after Maggie and Paul on 10 June 2021.
She thought he had left work after that to see his family following the news about his father but hours later that afternoon she said he called her asking for information about his pension.
He told her he was working on his finances ahead of the upcoming boat crash case hearing, she testified.
Less than five hours later, prosecutors say Mr Murdaugh shot dead Maggie and Paul at around 8.50pm at the dog kennels on the family estate.
CFO reveals how she discovered $792,000 stolen payments
16:00 , Rachel Sharp
In early June 2021 – the month of the murders – Ms Seckinger testified that she then discovered $792,000 in legal fees owed to PMPED was missing from a case that Mr Murdaugh had worked with attorney – and best friend – Chris Wilson.
“My concern was that he had stolen fees and they were paid to him personally,” she said.
CFO testifies about discovering missing money in May 2021
15:50 , Rachel Sharp
The CFO testified about discovering missing money in the May of 2021 – one month before the murders.
She said that she found Mr Murdaugh had sent money straight from a trust to what she at the time thought was Forge Consulting (it was actually the fake account).
This was not the correct process, she explained. The money must first go to PMPED before it can be placed in an annuity.
She said she spoke to Mr Murdaugh about it that month and he told her he was trying to put the money in his wife Maggie’s name to hide them from the boat crash lawsuit.
While she and the other law firm partners were concerned and “did not want to be part of that”, at the time she did not realise he was stealing the money but believed he was just trying to structure legal fees.
“That is hiding assets. We are not going to be part of any hiding of assets or any wrongdoing. We were very concerned that he was trying to do that, and we didn’t want to be a part of it,” she said.
CFO explains pay system at PMPED
15:45 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger explained that when the attorneys at PMPED won a case they would receive a proportion as fees.
Attorneys can get the fees in a lump sum at the time or in an annuity where they can get the money over time, she said.
Forge Consulting is a legitimate company which PMPED used to set up annuities to structure the attorneys’ fees.
As part of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial fraud scheme, Mr Murdaugh was allegedly sending checks to an account under the name of Forge Consulting. It was actually a “fake” Forge account that was in reality his own personal Bank of America account.
Forge Consulting is a real business which had no part in the scheme. It is now suing Mr Murdaugh for reputational damage.
Murdaugh’s behaviour changed in late 2020, CFO says
15:35 , Rachel Sharp
Mr Murdaugh’s behaviour started to change in late 2020, Ms Seckinger testified.
“I didn’t notice at the time but looking back I can see now… the things I noticed are more in hindsight,” she said.
CFO testifies about time Murdaugh accepted wrong check
15:28 , Rachel Sharp
Ms Seckinger testified about one time where Mr Murdaugh accepted a check that was given to him by mistake.
His brother Randy Murdaugh also worked at the firm and a check for $121,000 was mistakenly paid to Mr Murdaugh instead of Randy.
The law firm partners then realised the mistake and that Mr Murdaugh had accepted it.
When asked about the check, she said he paid it back and his colleagues “trusted” it was a genuine mistake.
“These attorneys work as a brotherhood. … They trusted him and accepted the explanation,” she said.
CFO describes Murdaugh’s attorney style: ‘The art of bulls***’
15:20 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO and COO at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, described Mr Murdaugh’s style as an attorney as “the art of bulls***”.
Ms Seckinger told the court that she had known Mr Murdaugh for around 40 years and had worked with him for around two decades at the law firm PMPED.
When asked about how Mr Murdaugh was as a lawyer, she said: “He was successful not from his work ethic, but his ability to establish relationships and to manipulate people into settlements and clients into liking him.
“The art of bulls***, basically.”
Here’s our story from her testimony at the shadow trial
15:10 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO and COO at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, testified last week in the absence of the jury before the judge determined that evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are allowed to be presented at his murder trial.
Here’s our story from her testimony at the shadow trial:
law firm over missing $792,000 hours before murders” class=”link “>Alex Murdaugh confronted by law firm over missing $792,000 hours before murders
First witness to the stand: Jeanne Seckinger
15:00 , Rachel Sharp
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO and COO at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, has taken the stand.
Ms Seckinger testified last week in the absence of the jury before the judge determined that evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are allowed to be presented at his murder trial.
During that testimony, she told the court how she discovered the 54-year-old now-disbarred attorney was misappropriating millions of dollars from his legal clients – by moving money into a fake business and into his own personal accounts.
Ms Seckinger said that she had confronted Mr Murdaugh about $792,000 of missing funds on the morning of 7 June 2021.
He gave her a “dirty look” when she confronted him over the missing payments that day, she said.
Hours later, Maggie and Paul were shot dead at the Murdaugh family estate in Islandton.
We are likely to hear similar testimony today.
Judge rules blue raincoat is allowed as evidence – in another blow to defence
14:51 , Rachel Sharp
Before the jury entered the courtroom, the judge ruled that the blue rainjacket is allowed as evidence in the case – denying the defence’s motion to strike it.
“I find that it is relevant and that it creates, through inference, facts that are in dispute in this case. I deny the motion to strike her testimony, if that’s what the motion is. I deny the motion to declare her testimony as being irrelevant,” Judge Newman said.
Shelly Smith – Alex Murdaugh’s mother’s caregiver – testified on Monday that he had turned up at his parents’ home days after the murders with a “blue item” and left it there.
Prosecutors said that law enforcement found a blue tarp and a blue rainjacket in a search of the home.
The state says that gunshot residue was found on the jacket.
Mr Murdaugh’s defence attorney Jim Griffin objected to the admission of the raincoat as evidence.
He read out a transcript of Ms Smith’s testimony where she insisted that the item she saw him carrying was a “blue tarp” and not a blue rainjacket.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters responded by pointing out the part of the transcript where Ms Smith was shown a photo of a “bundled up blue item” and asked if that was what she had seen. She confirmed it was.
Mr Waters said that this was the rainjacket bundled up.
“Clearly she did not know what it was. It wasn’t opened up, and she could not clearly identify the item either as a tarp, as shown by Mr Griffin, or as a raincoat,” he said.
Court in session
14:41 , Rachel Sharp
Day 12 of Alex Murdaugh’s trial resumes.
What to expect from day 12: Blue tarp vs blue raincoat
14:30 , Rachel Sharp
The trial will resume at 9.30am ET.
Judge Newman is expected to rule over the inclusion of a blue rainjacket which prosecutors say Alex Murdaugh brought to his parents’ home after the murders.
The state says that gunshot residue was found on the jacket.
The defence has objected to the admission of the raincoat based on the testimony of Shelly Smith – Mr Murdaugh’s mother’s caregiver.
Ms Smith testified on Monday that Mr Murdaugh turned up at his parents’ home days after the murders with a “blue item” and left it there. She insisted that the item was a “blue tarp” and not a blue rainjacket.
Court adjourns. The trial will resume tomorrow at 930am.
Alex Murdaugh arrives in court for day 12 of murder trial
14:25 , Rachel Sharp
Alex Murdaugh has arrived in court for day 12 of his murder trial.
The disbarred attorney is on trial for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul on 7 June 2021. He has pleaded not guilty.
What happened in court yesterday? Caretaker’s testimony about alibi
14:15 , Rachel Sharp
Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, who had been working as a caregiver to Mr Murdaugh’s mother Libby from October 2019, told jurors about Alex Murdaugh’s unusual behaviour both on the night of the murders and in the days that followed.
She testified that a “fidgety” Alex Murdaugh showed up at his sick mother’s house for a brief 20-minute visit on the night of his wife and son’s murders – before later claiming he was there double the length of time and offering to pay towards the wedding of the caretaker who could refute his alibi.
On the night of 7 June 2021, she said he made the uncharacteristic move to visit his sick mother late at night.
He stayed only 20 minutes before leaving,
In the aftermath of the killings, he then appeared to try to align her account about his visit with his – telling her to say he was there for 30 to 40 minutes.
He then offered to help Ms Smith both financially and with her other job.
Days after that encounter, he turned up at his parents’ home at 6.30am and brought a mystery blue tarp item and left it in the home.
What happened in court yesterday? Boat crash attorney speaks out
14:06 , Rachel Sharp
Attorney Mark Tinsley testified without the jury present about the lawsuit he brought against Mr Murdaugh on behalf of the family of Mallory Beach – the 19-year-old killed in a 2019 boat crash where Paul was allegedly drunk driving.
Mr Tinsley told the court the Mr Murdaugh claimed he was broke and wouldn’t pay up the settlement he was asking for his clients – so he filed a motion compelling him to reveal his finances.
This ramping up of scrutiny on his finances would have uncovered his alleged financial crimes, he said.
A hearing for the suit had been scheduled to take place on 10 June 2021 but was postponed by the murders.
He said that the “fuse had been lit” to expose Mr Murdaugh’s slew of alleged financial crimes – but that problems would likely “be over” if the family was the “victim of an unspeakable tragedy”.
“Pretty quickly, I recognised that the case against Alex, if he were in fact the victim of some vigilante, would be over,” he said.
He later testified: “There wouldn’t have been an explosion June 10. But the fuse was lit the moment that information became available in this case.”
He added that Mr Murdaugh “knew it was going to unravel” and that “the fuse was lit when he started stealing money”.
Under redirect, the witness testified that if the hearing had taken place on 10 June it would have set in motion the process that wouldn’t have stopped until Mr Murdaugh either settled the case or disclosed his finances.
What happened in court yesterday? Financial crimes ruling
13:55 , Rachel Sharp
The defence was dealt a major blow in the case on Monday morning when the judge ruled that Alex Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are allowed as evidence in his trial.
Judge Newman agreed with the prosecution that the vast financial fraud scheme – in which he allegedly stole over $8m from law firm clients – is relevant to their attempts to establishing a motive for the murders.
“I find that the jury is entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr Murdaugh because of his dire financial situation, the threat of being exposed for committing the crimes for which he was later charged, resulted in the commission of the alleged crimes,” Judge Newman said.
Over the course of the last week, the judge has heard hours of testimony without the jury present about the legal dynasty heir’s alleged financial crimes as he weighed what evidence could be admitted in court.
Prosecutors argued that details of Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes are key to proving the motive in the murders of Maggie and Paul, claiming that he killed his wife and son to hide the string of other crimes and scandals which were catching up with him.
Meanwhile, the defence had asked the judge to throw the evidence out of the murder trial, arguing it is irrelevant and separate to the case.
Son’s friends ‘100%’ certain it is his voice in video minutes before murders
13:00 , Oliver O’Connell
Two friends of Paul Murdaugh have testified that they are “100 per cent sure” that it is Alex Murdaugh’s voice in a video recorded just minutes before the brutal double murder of his son and wife Maggie – in a dramatic moment that ripped open the disgraced legal scion’s alibi.
A timeline of murders, financial fraud, unexplained deaths and arrest
12:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting Paul, 22, twice with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, five times with a rifle on the family’s sprawling hunting lodge in Islandton on 7 June 2021.
He was arrested more than a year later in July 2022 and charged with their murders.
In the 19 months since the brutal double murders propelled the Murdaughs onto national headlines, a series of other scandals, allegations and alleged crimes have also come to light.
Here’s a timeline of the key moments in the case:
Snapchat video shows Alex Murdaugh wearing different clothes immediately before murders
11:30 , Oliver O’Connell
A damning Snapchat video has captured Alex Murdaugh wearing an entirely different set of clothes just one hour before he is accused of murdering his wife and son in a brutal and bloody double homicide.
Rachel Sharp has the story.
Law firm CFO recalls Alex Murdaugh ‘dirty look’ as she confronted him over missing money
10:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm partner has recalled how he gave her a “dirty look” when she confronted him over missing payments worth a staggering $792,000 on the day that his wife and son were murdered.
Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer at Mr Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, testified in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday at his trial for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.
She told the court how she discovered the 54-year-old now-disbarred attorney was misappropriating millions of dollars from his legal clients – by moving money into a fake business and into his own personal accounts.
Ms Seckinger said that she had confronted Mr Murdaugh about thousands of dollars of missing funds on the morning of 7 June 2021.
Hours later, Maggie and Paul were shot dead at the Murdaugh family estate in Islandton.
Murdaugh’s best friend of 40 years breaks down in tears on witness stand
08:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Alex Murdaugh’s former best friend of 40 years broke down in tears in court as he described the moment that he learned the disgraced attorney had stolen millions of dollars from his law firm clients – and $192,000 from himself.
Chris Wilson choked up with emotion as he said the betrayal “knocked me down” and revealed that “I don’t know how to think any more” about the man he had known and “loved” for most of his life.
Rachel Sharp reports.
Key revelations from the Alex Murdaugh murder trial so far
06:30 , Oliver O’Connell
It’s a dramatic saga that now includes murder, a botched hitman plot, multi-million-dollar fraud schemes and a series of unexplained deaths.
Alex Murdaugh attorney denies the allegations against him and has pleaded not guilty in the trial that got underway at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro on 23 January.
Here are the key revelations from the trial so far:
Murdaugh accused of stealing $4m payout from housekeeper’s family
04:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Tony Satterfield, the son of Gloria Satterfield, took the witness stand in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Friday where Mr Murdaugh is currently on trial for the June 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.
Satterfield worked as the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper and nanny for more than 20 years, before she died in a mysterious trip and fall at the family home.
Rachel Sharp has the details.
Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes can be given as evidence in murder trial
03:30 , Oliver O’Connell
A judge has ruled that Alex Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes can be given as evidence in his trial for the murders of his wife and son.
“I find that the jury is entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr. Murdaugh because of his dire financial situation, the threat of being exposed for committing the crimes for which he was later charged, resulted in the commission of the alleged crimes,” Judge Newman ruled on Monday.
Over the course of the last week, the judge has heard testimony from multiple witnesses about the legal dynasty heir’s alleged financial crimes without the jury present as he weighed what evidence could be admitted in court.
‘Fidgety’ Alex Murdaugh visited mom on night of murders
02:30 , Oliver O’Connell
A “fidgety” Alex Murdaugh showed up at his sick mother’s house for a brief 20-minute visit on the night of his wife and son’s murders – before later claiming he was there double the length of time and offering to pay towards the wedding of the caretaker who could refute his alibi.
Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, who had been working as a caregiver to Mr Murdaugh’s mother Libby from October 2019, gave emotional and at-times damning testimony in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Monday.
Rachel Sharp reports.
01:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Murdaugh murder jury to hear financial crimes evidence
00:30 , Oliver O’Connell
A judge ruled Monday he will allow jurors to hear evidence that disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was stealing money from his law firm and clients and committing other financial crimes long before his wife and son were killed in 2021.
‘Fuse was lit’ to expose Alex Murdaugh’s financial crimes at time of murders, court hears
Monday 6 February 2023 23:30 , Oliver O’Connell
The “fuse had been lit” to expose Alex Murdaugh’s slew of alleged financial crimes at the time of his wife and son’s murders – but his problems would likely “be over” if the family was the “victim of an unspeakable tragedy”, according to dramatic courtroom testimony at his trial.
Attorney Mark Tinsley took the witness stand at Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina on Monday morning to testify about the lawsuit he brought against Mr Murdaugh on behalf of the family of Mallory Beach.
Beach, 19, died in a February 2019 crash in the Murdaugh family boat.
Rachel Sharp has the story.
Monday 6 February 2023 22:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Monday 6 February 2023 22:24 , Oliver O’Connell
After Ms Hall’s explanation of the collection and testing of the materials, the jury is dismissed for the day.
Judge Newman addresses Mr Harpootlian’s objection to the inclusion of the blue rainjacket based on what Ms Smith testified earlier in the day.
There is a dispute as to whether she identified the jacket when she talked about the tarp that Mr Murdaugh brought to his mother’s house. The prosecution said she testified something was balled up as the jacket was.
It is suggested that Judge Newman examines the transcripts for the day and makes a decision.
Court adjourns. The trial will resume tomorrow at 930am.
Monday 6 February 2023 22:04 , Oliver O’Connell
While the shoes and clothes were tested the day after the shooting, the seatbelt was tested on 1 September 2021 and the rainjacket was tested on 5 October.
Monday 6 February 2023 22:02 , Oliver O’Connell
Ms Hall testifies about testing Mr Murdaugh’s shoes the day after the murders.
She did not notice any blood on either the top of bottom of the shoes.
Mr Murdaugh said in interviews with police that he checked the bodies of both his wife and son for pulses and tried to turn Paul over. Both were lying in pools of blood.
Monday 6 February 2023 21:52 , Oliver O’Connell
Small reddish-brown stains and the fresh smell of laundry detergent were noted on t-shirt which was odd given that most clothes are musty by the time they come in for testing.
Ms Hall also tested the seatbelt from Mr Murdaugh’s Chevy Suburban.
Monday 6 February 2023 21:46 , Oliver O’Connell
Ms Hall testifies the 7 June 2021 Gunshot Residue kit test of Alex Murdaugh’s hands was collected properly. She passed it along for analysis.
She also identifies the shorts and t-shirt that he was wearing when police arrived at the Moselle Road property.
New Witness: Jamie Hall, SLED trace evidence department
Monday 6 February 2023 21:33 , Oliver O’Connell
The next witness is Jamie Hall who was a forensic technician in the trace evidence department of SLED.
She left SLED in 2022 and now works for the West Columbia Police Department as the evidence custodian.
Monday 6 February 2023 21:26 , Oliver O’Connell
Judge Newman explains the rules about evidence from Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes to the jury.
He tells them they can’t consider this evidence in determining the defendant’s character or propensity to commit crimes.
It is only to considered as evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s possible motive for the murders.
New Witness: Natasha Moodie, Bank of America
Monday 6 February 2023 21:24 , Oliver O’Connell
The next prosecution witness is Natasha Moodie of Bank of America. She identifies various bank records including documents opening an account and statements.
The state moves to enter them into evidence.
Monday 6 February 2023 21:19 , Oliver O’Connell
Court is resuming.
Before the jury is brought in, defence attorney Dick Harpootlian raises the issue that no one has directly linked the rainjacket with the defendant and objects to testimony being presented to the jury that it was coated in gunshot residue.
The state responds that in her testimony Ms Smith said it was balled up and identified it in a photo on the inside of the second-floor closet.
Mr Harpootlian contends she did not identify it but said it was similar.
Judge Newman overrules the objection.
Monday 6 February 2023 20:46 , Oliver O’Connell
On cross-examination, he describes the Murdaughs as a loving family.
He went to visit Alex Murdaugh in the days after the murders and say he was upset and crying.
Court takes its mid-afternoon break.
Monday 6 February 2023 20:37 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr McElveen’s testimony is similar to that of Paul’s other friends including how he was always using his phone.
They had been out together in Charleston two days before he was murdered.
Monday 6 February 2023 20:30 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr McElveen estimates he visited Moselle some 30 to 40 times. They would hang out either at the house or around the kennels and sheds and would go hunting.
We learn that there were three pet labradors separate from the working dogs in the kennels.
New Witness: William McElveen, friend of Paul Murdaugh
Monday 6 February 2023 20:25 , Oliver O’Connell
The next witness is William McElveen, a friend of Paul Murdaugh from Edisto Beach.
They became friends at the beach, through a mutual love of fishing, and over the years he grew close to the Murdaugh family and would visit them at the Moselle Road property.
Monday 6 February 2023 20:18 , Oliver O’Connell
A bright blue, poncho-style rainjacket is finally revealed, but no labeled size is apparent.
Agent Moore holds it up for the jury to see and it appears quite a large garment.
Perhaps large enough to be mistaken for a tarp?
Monday 6 February 2023 20:15 , Oliver O’Connell
The raincoat was processed for blood several times and none was found.
Special Agent Moore does not know if any testing was done on the tarp.
Defence attorney Jim Griffin asks what size the rainjacket is and asks her to unpack it from its evidence pouch in order to check its size and whether it is stained from the testing.
There is laughter in the courtroom as layer after layer of packing is removed from the garment.
New Witness: Kristin Moore, SLED
Monday 6 February 2023 20:01 , Oliver O’Connell
The next witness is SLED Special Agent Kristin Moore, who led a search of Mr Murdaugh’s mother’s house.
She testifies that they found a blue tarp in a storage box in a bedroom wardrobe and a blue rainjacket in a coat closet, both on the second floor.
The rainjacket was balled up in the closet.
Monday 6 February 2023 20:00 , Oliver O’Connell
In cross-examination, Ms Smith testifies that she saw the blue tarp laid out over a rocking chair at Murdaugh’s mother’s home the next day.
She is asked if she saw a blue rainjacket and says she did not. Ms Smith is shown a photo of the blue rainjacket and confirms she has never seen it before.
Monday 6 February 2023 19:55 , Oliver O’Connell
Under redirect questioning by the prosecution, Ms Smith testifies that in the days after the murders Mr Murdaugh told her that if she is asked he was at the house with his mother for 30 to 40 minutes on the night of 7 June 2021.
Monday 6 February 2023 19:42 , Oliver O’Connell
The defence team moves to exclude any evidence about the blue raincoat mentioned in opening statements.
They argue that there is nothing linking Mr Murdaugh to the jacket as Ms Smith testified that she saw a blue tarp and not a jacket.
Judge Newman does not issue a ruling but instead calls the jury back in.
Ms Smith’s testimony continues.
Monday 6 February 2023 19:38 , Oliver O’Connell
Judge Clifton Newman tells the court that one of the jurors has raised concerns about the length of the trial as it is possible it may go beyond three weeks. That juror may have to be excused.
Caretaker breaks down in tears testifying about ‘fidgety’ Murdaugh visit
Monday 6 February 2023 19:00 , Oliver O’Connell
Alex Murdaugh was “fidgety” when he turned up at his ailing mother’s house on the night of his wife and son’s murders and stayed just 20 minutes, according to emotional testimony from her caregiver.
Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, who had worked as a caregiver to Mr Murdaugh’s mother Libby from October 2019, testified in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Monday that it was unusual for Mr Murdaugh to show up at his parents’ home late at night.
Judge rules Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes can be given as evidence in murder trial
Monday 6 February 2023 18:35 , Oliver O’Connell
In a major blow to the disgraced legal scion’s defence, Judge Newman ruled on Monday that the jury should be allowed to hear about Mr Murdaugh’s alleged multi-million-dollar fraud schemes as they decide his fate on murder charges.
Rachel Sharp reports.
Monday 6 February 2023 18:16 , Oliver O’Connell
Court breaks for lunch until 2.30pm.
Monday 6 February 2023 18:07 , Oliver O’Connell
Mr Griffin asks if Mr Murdaugh’s offer to help pay for Ms Smith’s wedding was him “just being nice”. She replies he was.
On the night of the murders she testifies he came in and lay on the bed next to his mother. He did not have any sign of blood on him and left no blood on the bed.
Monday 6 February 2023 17:53 , Oliver O’Connell
Cross-examination begins with attorney Jim Griffin unfolding a large blue tarp in the courtroom. He asks if this is what Ms Smith saw Mr Murdaugh bring into the house. She says yes.
Asked if she might have confused a tarp and a raincoat, she says no.
Monday 6 February 2023 17:50 , Oliver O’Connell
Ms Smith says Mr Murdaugh also had some kind of small cut or bruise on his head.
Monday 6 February 2023 17:41 , Oliver O’Connell
A few days after the murders, Mr Murdaugh came to the house at 6.30am, Ms Smith says, adding that he had never come that early before in the two years she had worked there.
She recalls him cradling something blue in his arms that looked like a tarp.
Monday 6 February 2023 17:38 , Oliver O’Connell
In tearful testimony, Ms Smith recalls Mr Murdaugh telling her after the murders that he had been at the house for 30 to 40 minutes on the night of the murders. She was very disturbed by the conversation and told her brother about it.
He then appeared to offer to help her with money for her upcoming wedding — it was the first time they had ever spoken about her wedding. Mr Murdaugh says he also offered to help get her a better job at the school where she also worked.
Monday 6 February 2023 17:20 , Oliver O’Connell
Ms Smith says he was wearing shorts and t-shirt and cloth-like shoes similar to Sperry’s and no socks.
She describes him as “fidgety”.
He sat on the bed and held his mother’s hand and spoke to her but she was in and out of sleep. He stayed at the house for approximately 20 minutes.
Murdaugh said he was there to check on her because his father was in the hospital.
Ms Smith says in her opinion Miss Libby would not have been aware he was there.
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