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‘Murdaugh Murders’ Trial: Untangling The Web

Prosecutor Creighton Waters lowers the boom on Alex Murdaugh …

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Disbarred South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh had the motive, means and opportunity to murder his wife and younger son on the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C. twenty-one months ago, according to lead prosecutor Creighton Waters.

Not only that, his lies and guilty actions in the aftermath of the murders – combined with the sheer implausibility of any other rational scenarios for the carnage – demand guilty verdicts on all counts, Waters told jurors.

“We couldn’t bring you any eyewitnesses – because they were murdered,” Waters said.

Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021. He pleaded not guilty to those charges and for the last six weeks has been 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.

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The scion of an influential Lowcountry legal dynasty, Murdaugh once led the Palmetto State’s powerful trial lawyers’ lobby. Today, he is at the epicenter of a maze of alleged criminality known as the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.

Ironically? It was Murdaugh’s own testimony which could play a pivotal role in sealing his fate.

In a closing argument which channeled his decisive cross-examination of Murdaugh less than a week ago, Waters walked jurors through Murdaugh’s “big lie” -a.k.a. his presence at the scene of the killings less than five minutes before they took place.

Jurors – who got a first-hand look at the crime scene on Wednesday morning – were also walked through how Murdaugh lied to them repeatedly on the witness stand last week. According to Waters, the defendant concocted a new story “on the fly” as he testified about his alleged reasons for deceiving investigators during an interview in the early morning hours of June 8, 2021.

(Click to View)

Alex Murdaugh enters the courtroom before closing arguments begin in his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

Murdaugh testified it was his distrust of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), opioid pills in his pockets and questions about his familial relationships from SLED investigator David Owen which caused him to experience paranoia – which in turn prompted him to lie. In fact, under questioning from Waters he identified the precise moment in the interview when he purportedly decided to deceive investigators.

Unfortunately for Murdaugh, he appears to have forgotten that he told the same lie on both the 9-1-1 call to dispatchers – and to sergeant Daniel Greene of the Colleton County sheriff’s office.

“He was lying to you when he made those up,” Waters said. “Just like he’s lied to everyone who is close to him.”

“He’s good,” Waters said. “He’s good.”

According to Waters, Murdaugh “lies convincingly – and can do it at the drop of a hat.”

Through Murdaugh’s maze of misinformation, Waters identified three things he said on the stand that had a ring of truth to them – that the killer of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh “thought about it for a very long time,” “had hate in his heart” and “hurt the ones he loved the most.”

“He says things in one context and means them in another,” Waters said.

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The hanger and dog kennels where the bodies of Paul Murdaugh and Maggie were found at the Moselle property as seen on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool

Waters also pointed out to jurors Murdaugh’s habit of nodding when he is lying.

“Is that the most classic tell ever?” he asked. “I’ll leave that to you to decide.”

As Waters delivered his closing, Murdaugh scanned the jury seeking to make eye contact with its members. Finding few takers, he opted to stare straight ahead – occasionally leaning over to one of his attorneys to confer.

Waters’ closing argument had a bit of everything: A broad overview of Murdaugh’s financial crimes (and their imminent exposure), a detailed recapitulation of SLED’s timeline for the murders and – as mentioned – an exhaustive inventory of the many occasions when Murdaugh’s version of events ran counter to reality. Invariably, Waters said, such divergence took place when the defendant was “confronted with facts he could no longer deny.”

‘One thing I will agree with him is when he said, ‘oh what a tangled web we weave,'” Waters said, recalling Murdaugh’s invocation of the famous quote from Sir Walter Scott last Thursday. “How appropriate is that.”

Every bit as effective as his flaying of Murdaugh was Waters’ mockery of assertions made by defense experts. Chief among them? The notion that the individual(s) who murdered Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were both diminutive in stature – and part of a completely static crime scene.

“These vigilantes that are 5-foot-2 knew Paul and Maggie would be at Moselle, knew that they would be alone, knew the property well enough to get to the kennels – and assumed they would find ammunition and guns there,” Waters said.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters gives his closing statement during the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool

“These vigilantes were just lucky enough to find these family weapons there,” he said, noting they arrived at the kennels at the precise moment Murdaugh claims to have departed – without alerting any of the dogs roaming the property.

Waters concluded his closing with a passionate plea on behalf of the two victims – urging jurors to use their “common sense and human nature” as they prepare to begin their deliberations.

“Maggie and Paul deserve a voice,” he said. “They need a voice because they can no longer speak. The system depends on those who take that oath as jurors – who make that tough decision to vindicate these victims. To vindicate Maggie and Paul – who were cut down in the prime of their lives.”

As he spoke, Waters pulled up one of the graphic sealed exhibits depicting the sheer savagery of the slayings.

“This is what he did,” Waters said, pointing to Murdaugh.

“He fooled Maggie and Paul – and they paid for it with their lives,” Waters concluded. “Don’t let him fool you.”

Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin is scheduled to deliver the closing argument for the defense tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. EST. After he has finished, assistant attorney general John Meadors is expected to provide a rebuttal from the state. Once Meadors has concluded his remarks, judge Clifton Newman will instruct the jury as to its duties under the law.

At that point, Murdaugh’s fate will rest in the hands of the twelve Colleton County chosen back on January 25, 2023.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks on phone
Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

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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10 comments

Kathleen Bounds Top fan March 1, 2023 at 6:39 pm

The most memorable line from today’s closing argument – “We couldn’t bring you any eye witnesses today —- because they were murdered,”

Way to bring it home, Mr. Waters!!

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Kathleen Muller Top fan March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm

I believe Murdaugh is guilty, guilty, guilty. But I thought Mr. Waters’s most salient points and best lines were lost in a sluggish, meandering, repetitious closing argument. I found myself wondering if he had even practiced it.

A question that occurred to me this afternoon: Who is paying for Alex’s defense? Is there anyone left who believes in him?

And Cousin Eddie…we never heard from Cousin Eddie.

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Kathleen Muller Top fan March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm

I believe Murdaugh is guilty, guilty, guilty. But I thought Mr. Waters’s most salient points and best lines were lost in a sluggish, meandering, repetitious closing argument. I found myself wondering if he had even practiced it.

A question that occurred to me this afternoon: Who is paying for Alex’s defense? Is there anyone left who believes

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Elizabeth Doll Top fan March 1, 2023 at 7:32 pm

That POS is guilty!

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Kathleen Bounds Top fan March 1, 2023 at 8:21 pm

Ah, yes – good ol’ Cuzzin Eddie. All my friends “from off” were dying to see him on the stand – they kept teasing me re “Deliverance”…. Alas, it was not to be …….

Re paying for Alex’s defense – Any and all $$ from the sale of Moselle ($700-800 thousand) and the Edisto beach house ($3 million +/-) go straight to the receivers. I have no clue how -OR IF – his defense team will/won’t be paid. Alex will need to get a good job in prison – where I think the minimum wage is pretty low – and just start chipping away.

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Gx Top fan March 1, 2023 at 8:39 pm

I believe the Receivers/Court agreed to allow ~$600,000 from Murdaugh’s liquid assets to be used for his legal defense.

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Astonished Top fan March 1, 2023 at 8:47 pm

Worrisome that the jurors wouldn’t look Waters in the eye at closing!

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Gx Top fan March 1, 2023 at 8:49 pm

That was Murdaugh that they wouldn’t look at, not Waters.

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Elizabeth Doll Top fan March 1, 2023 at 9:53 pm

First of all, I’m supposed to be anonymous. Thanks Will for the update. I am a crime scene hound from Florida. Following this from day one. Watching all of the court trial, evidence, family and friends interviewed, there is no other person other than Alex Murdaugh who committed these heinous crimes on his son and his wife. Paul was scheduled to be in court for the boat crime. Underage leads to Parents assets. Alex had no assets as he was broke and borrowing, stealing and hiding assets. Maggie’s checks were bouncing. A bombshell of banking deficiency’s!
Alex killed Paul to silence him and Maggie was killed to keep quiet about the pill addiction
Alex is a guilty MF!

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9" March 2, 2023 at 1:46 pm

FREE ALEX! What kind of dumbass name is Creighton?

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