‘Murdaugh Murders’ Saga: Prosecution Carries First Day Of Testimony

Another strong performance from prosecutor Creighton Waters as the state begins laying out its case …

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South Carolina’s ‘Trial of the Century’ – the double homicide case against accused killer Alex Murdaugh – was supposed to be a legal mismatch. And through its first day of witness testimony, it has been.

The surprise? The mismatch we have seen isn’t the one everyone was expecting …

Heading into this trial, the general consensus was that lead prosecutor Creighton Waters would be unlikely to match wits against Murdaugh’s lead defense attorney Dick Harpootlian. Sure, Waters had demonstrated the ability to do so in multiple pre-trail hearings, but could he sustain it over the course of a multi-week trial? One in which the burden of proof – a.k.a. the pressure – was squarely on him and his team of prosecutors?

Also, the defense entered these proceedings with significant momentum … poking what appeared to be major holes in the state’s case.

As the first day of testimony drew to a close, though, Waters has proven himself more than equal to the task … while Harpootlian has stumbled badly out of the gate. As a result, the murder case against Murdaugh is looking far better than it did forty-eight hours ago.

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Alex Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian in court on January 25, 2023 (Grace Beahm Alford/ Pool)

After delivering a thunderously effective opening statement yesterday, Waters pressed his advantage on the first day of testimony – introducing key initial evidence and eliciting compelling testimony from several first responders who arrived and discovered the initial carnage at the scene of this crime.

To recap: At approximately 8:49 p.m. EDT on June 7, 2021, state prosecutors say Murdaugh savagely dispatched his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and their younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, near the dog kennels on the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property – known locally as Moselle.

Paul Murdaugh was hit by a pair of shotgun blasts on that fateful evening – one to the head, the other to the arm and chest. Maggie Murdaugh was killed by multiple rounds from a semi-automatic rifle around the same time her son was killed. At least two of Maggie Murdaugh’s gunshot wounds were inflicted as she was lying wounded on the ground – consistent with initial reports we received of “execution-style” slayings.

Maggie Murdaugh’s body was found approximately thirty yards from the dog kennels where her son was murdered. Also found at the crime scene? Five spent .300 blackout cartridges and other ballistics evidence.

This evidence has become increasingly important to prosecutors in light of pre-trial problems that arose with regard to one of its blood spatter experts.



On Thursday, jurors saw body-worn camera footage from responding deputies along with crime scene photos from these shootings – and judging from the looks on their faces, what they saw was every bit as horrific as what was described to us in the weeks leading up to trial.

“The majority of the head is gone,” said Colleton County sheriff’s office captain Jason Chapman.

“There is substantial damage to his head … and what appears to be his brain down around his ankles,” noted Barry McCoy of Colleton County fire and rescue during his testimony.

As jurors absorbed all of this information, Waters also began laying the groundwork for several narratives key to the prosecution’s case – 1) That Murdaugh immediately sought to cast blame for the murders elsewhere and 2) That he immediately began laying the groundwork for a concocted alibi.

In his first comments to Colleton County sergeant Daniel Greene – the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene – Murdaugh said that his son was the victim of vigilante justice.

“This is a long story my son was in a boat crash,” Murdaugh told Greene. “I know that’s what (this) is.”

Murdaugh offered this same unsolicited theory in the full, unredacted 9-1-1 call that was played in court for the first time.

Murdaugh also encouraged Greene to check his cell phone to verify his recent movements.

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Alex Murdaugh appears on a body-worn camera the night of his wife and son’s murders (Colleton County Sheriff’s Office)

Readers will recall Murdaugh’s attorneys boasted of him having an “ironclad alibi” for the night of these killings.

They will also recall how that alibi was shredded by the retrieval of a cell phone video taken by his son, Paul, just three minutes before he was killed. That clip placed Alex Murdaugh at the scene of the murders just moments before they took place.

The cell phone video also revealed Murdaugh lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the night of the murders.

Prosecutors have yet to introduce this video into evidence, but Waters did reference it in his opening arguments.

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Prosecutor Savanna Goude questions a witness (Grace Beahm Alford/ Pool)

While Waters and his deputies – including Savanna Goude and David Fernandez – began laying the foundation for their case, Harpootlian also attempted to begin injecting his own narratives into the mix.

The veteran attorney – who has five decades of courtroom experience – is clearly hoping that allegations of contaminated evidence, shoddy police work and a so-called “rush to judgment” on the part of prosecutors will begin creating reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors.

“You are taught to keep the crime scene pristine,” Harpootlian told Greene during his testimony. “What I’m getting at is one of the cardinal rules of a crime scene is to keep it pristine.”

According to Harpootlian, responding officers failed to do so by walking in and around the immediate vicinity of the bodies after determining the two victims had expired – and by placing sheets over their bodies prior to crime scene technicians arriving to inspect them.

Harpootlian also chided Colleton County corporal Chad McDowell – the second officer who arrived on the scene – for marking evidence without being asked to do so.

“Were y’all trying to solve the crime?” he asked McDowell. “What were y’all doing?”

In addition to these narratives, Harpootlian is eager to advance the same “boat crash vigilante” theory his client tried to sell law enforcement on from the beginning.

If he is to be successful, he is going to have to improve on his performance in front of this jury.

Harpootlian struggled to build a rhythm all day – encountering technical difficulties with courtroom audio-visual equipment, objections from Waters and his own apparent lack of organization.

Jurors seemed miffed by Harpootlian from the beginning, and by the time he finally began scoring a few points late in the afternoon – many looked as though they had already formed a negative opinion of him.

Should Harpootlian be counted out? Absolutely not … as I noted frequently on social media posts throughout the day, I fully expect him to find his rhythm as proceedings progress.



Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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BANNER VIA: Grace Beahm Alford/ Pool

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Ralph Hightower Top fan January 26, 2023 at 11:10 pm

Jeez, Murdaugh is trying really hard to deflect blame elsewhere. Here! Check my cellphone. I wasn’t anywhere near my hunting lodge when my wife and son were killed. I double-dare you,

MaryContrary Top fan January 27, 2023 at 1:09 am

Way too many questions after today’s testimonies. Did anyone ask Alex why there was no blood on his hands? How did Maggie & Paul get from the house to the kennels? Just the tip of the iceberg.

MaryContrary Top fan January 27, 2023 at 1:11 am

Also, what is this about Paul’s truck being found somewhere in Hampton? More questions every day.

Cranston Snord Top fan January 27, 2023 at 2:03 am

The shoot gun Alex had was not able to be fired and sons truck was found on side of highway several miles away .

If Harpo is stumbling I’d hate to see him in good form !!!

Elaine Zimney Top fan January 27, 2023 at 8:27 am

Agree 100% with Fitsnews comments! Defense attorney was totally disorganized and appeared to have early dementia – could not even remember what the witness had just testified to. Being verbally attacking to the Deputies isn’t going to win him points. Why isn’t Murdaugh in handcuffs as in previous court hearings? The tears are flowing now but not when he was at the scene of the crime – he is a good actor or crying for himself. How did he check Paul’s pulse as stated when his arms were under his body?

SubZeroIQ January 28, 2023 at 7:09 pm

First, you don’t need to be a medical doctor like me to know that you can check the pulse in the legs and feet, and pretty much anywhere on the body. That the pulse is most conveniently checked at the wrists does not mean that the wrists, or the neck for that matter, are the only place in the body that has a pulse. Second, the body-worn camera shows AM crying plenty. Third, though far (far, far, far, far, far) from moral equivalence, people can have two thoughts in their head at the same time. Case on point from recent events, the Virginia teacher who was shot by a six-year old student managed to get the rest of the class out of the room and into safety. That does not mean she was not in excruciating pain or extreme anguish. It means peole in pain and anguish can still think of others. Third, whatever comes out of the mouths of first responders is not Gospel. Indeed, the first and second days showed most of those witnesses contradicting themselves, begrudgingly admitting to violating procedure, and clearly saying what the prosecutors wanted to hear. Second case in point, John Meadors got the British transplant to say that AM’s just came out of the laundry because AM was sweating but the shirt was dry. How stupid is that? Were the wahser and dryer right next to AM when the bodycam people arrived? FOURTH AND FOREMOST, the jury is instructed to keep an open mind and to not make any conclusions until they have heard all the testimony and received all the evidence. Finally, is that a microphone or a baseball bat or some phallic fantasy in your hand, FITS? Very poor taste in all cases and telegraphing that you will go after whoever disagrees with you. You should be either a journalist or a propagandist for the prosecution. Very disappointed in you for making this a game.


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