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Crime News Murders

Alex Murdaugh Denies Killing Wife And Son On Stand, But Admits To Lying About When He Last Saw Them

A tearful Alex Murdaugh took the stand Thursday in his murder trial, saying he loved wife Maggie and son Paul and did not kill them, but admitting he lied about when he last saw them alive.

By Gina Salamone
The Alex Murdaugh Case, Explained

Tearfully taking the stand in his own defense Thursday, Alex Murdaugh denied killing his wife and son but admitted to lying to authorities about being with the pair shortly before they were killed. 

The disgraced South Carolina lawyer teared up while telling the court, “I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them,” according to the Associated Press

He's charged with murdering his wife Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22, who were found shot to death near dog kennels on the family's Colleton County, South Carolina property on June 7, 2021.

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Murdaugh, 54, is accused by prosecutors of killing his two family members to garner sympathy in an alleged effort to cover up his financial crimes that were about to be uncovered. Prosecutors maintain that Murdaugh stole money from clients, and chronically lied to cover up his misdeeds, turning violent during times when he was about to be found out, including when he allegedly set up his own death after being fired from his law firm months after Maggie and Paul were killed.

Alex Murdaugh Takes The Stand

The now-disbarred lawyer admitted to lying to state law enforcement just hours after the killings about being at the kennels with his wife and son before their murders, and kept the lie up for 20 months. 

Earlier this month, jurors were shown video from Paul's phone from the night of his death that prosecutors say proves that Murdaugh was with Maggie and Paul near the dog kennels just minutes before they were killed. Murdaugh had told investigators that he was at the main house napping at the time, before going to see his sick mom in another town, but two of Paul's close friends testified that they were "100 percent" certain that one of the voices heard in the video is that of Murdaugh's.

On Thursday, Murdaugh told the court he lied about being near the kennels that night because his opioid addiction fogged up his mind and made him paranoid of authorities. 

He added that after he initially lied about being at the kennels, he felt he had to keep up the lie, saying: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave. Once I told a lie — I told my family — I had to keep lying.”

After the court returned from a lunch break Thursday, Murdaugh said through sniffles, "I did not kill Maggie, I did not kill Paul," adding that he loved them.

He also cried and blew his nose while talking about Paul, saying of his younger son: "He was a man's man. He was 100% country boy. He was tough. ... He was such a special boy. He cared about people."

Murdaugh admitted Thursday to stealing money from clients and keeping money that was supposed to be passed along to his law firm. “I’m not quite sure how I let myself get where I got,” he said, according to the New York Times, but suggested it stemmed from his oxycodone addiction, adding he emptied his bank account to pay for the pills.

The disgraced lawyer also spoke on the stand about the September 2021 incident in which he was shot in the head alongside a road, three months after the deaths of his wife and son. He'd originally said he was shot by someone he didn't know, but later said that he'd asked a cousin to fatally shoot him. Murdaugh maintained the latter on the stand Thursday, adding he didn't want to take his own life because he thought it would keep his older son, Buster, from getting a payout from his life insurance policy, according to the Times.

Earlier in the day, the criminal charges that Paul was facing related to 2019 fatal boat crash came up. Paul was accused of crashing the boat while he was drunk. Murdaugh's lawyers attempted Thursday to downplay the pressure that Murdaugh was under as a result of the crash, with him saying on the stand that he wasn't seriously concerned by those charges, the Times reported. Prosecutors have attempted to show that a lawsuit involving the crash could have brought to light Murdaugh's embezzlement.

The lead prosecutor for the case began cross-examination of Murdaugh Thursday afternoon.

If convicted, Murdaugh is facing 30 years to life in prison. He's charged with about 100 other crimes, including tax evasion and stealing from clients, and is being held without bail for those charges, according to the AP.

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