The surviving son of disbarred South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh took the stand on Tuesday morning – the first substantive witness called by attorneys who are defending his father on murder charges.
Murdaugh is the scion of an influential Lowcountry legal dynasty – a man who once led the Palmetto State’s powerful trial lawyers’ association. Today, he sits at the epicenter of a maze of alleged criminality known as the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
Murdaugh stands accused of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, on his family’s hunting property in Colleton County, S.C. on June 7, 2021. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and is currently standing trial in Walterboro – part of the Lowcountry region of the Palmetto State which his famous family ruled like a fiefdom for more than a century.
Buster Murdaugh, 26, testified extensively to the Murdaugh family’s dynamics – including his father’s loving relationship with him, his brother, his mother and her parents, Terry Branstetter and Kennedy Branstetter.
More substantively, Murdaugh challenged prosecutors’ interpretation of recently obtained vehicular data which showed his father’s Suburban circling behind his grandparents’ home in Almeda, S.C. upon its arrival shortly after the murders – parking near several outbuildings near a line of trees.
“The Suburban goes to outbuildings by the wood line,” special agent Peter Rudofski of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) testified.
According to Buster Murdaugh, the location of the Suburban behind his grandparents’ residence was consistent with someone accessing the home from the rear entrance.
“Was it common to go in the back door?” attorney Jim Griffin asked Murdaugh.
“Yes sir,” he responded.
This was one of many key components of the prosecution’s case addressed during Murdaugh’s testimony.
Buster Murdaugh also testified his father’s demeanor was “completely normal” when he called him after 9:10 p.m. EDT – approximately twenty minutes after the murders took place – saying his tone was “no different” than it was on any of the previous calls he had exchanged with him earlier in the day.
Buster Murdaugh also lent support to key points in the defense’s narrative – saying his father did not always carry his phone with him on the Moselle property and often showered and changed clothes in the evenings after dinner.
(Click to view)
Perhaps most significantly, Murdaugh challenged the prosecution’s assertion that his father was wearing a sea foam-colored Columbia brand shirt in the hours leading up to the murders.
“It doesn’t look like a Columbia shirt,” Murdaugh testified, adding he believed the shirt was “blue.”
In addition to debunking several prosecutorial points, Buster Murdaugh provided new insight into his father’s widely cited opioid addiction, referring to a 2018 stint Alex Murdaugh allegedly spent in a detoxification facility. He further testified to learning about his mother and brother discovering pills belonging to his father in 2021 – but indicated he assumed Alex Murdaugh had beaten his addiction.
On the night of the murders, Buster Murdaugh – who was in Rock Hill, S.C. with his girlfriend at the time – testified to learning of the savage slayings via a phone call with his father at approximately 10:47 p.m. EDT.
“He asked me if I was sitting down – then he told me my mother and brother had been shot,” Murdaugh testified.
Upon arriving at Moselle hours later, Buster Murdaugh testified his father was “destroyed” and could hardly speak.
In the days after the killings, Alex Murdaugh offered to pay for private security for Buster – but his son declined the offer, saying he valued his privacy and “didn’t want to carry a gun.”
From the very beginning, Buster Murdaugh has been among the most elusive figures in the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – although the limited commentary he previously provided pointed to him being a potentially hostile witness for the defense.
That is clearly not how things played out on Tuesday …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.
SIGN UP …
Regarding the forensic engineer, he was talking about the 300 black out rounds, but Paul was killed with buckshot and/or birdshot. How does that hold up with Harpootlian’s defense?
As a guy, Paul probably doesn’t care if a color of a shirt is sea foam color; it’s either blue or green.
I’m sticking with what the Chevy Suburban has captured GPS-coordinates wise in the OnStar “black box”. Murdaugh probably went to the outbuilding to stash something.
Could we get proof that Buster’s story about Alex going to rehab in 2018 is true?