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CFO At Alex Murdaugh's Former Law Firm Testifies She Confronted Him About Missing Money The Day Of The Homicides
Jeanne Seckinger testified about Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes, stating on the stand that the firm postponed a potential probe in light of Maggie and Paul's murders.
The same day Alex Murdaugh’s wife and son were shot to death, the chief financial officer at his law firm had approached him about “stolen” money from the firm.
Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO at Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick (PMPED), testified Tuesday in front of the jury that she approached Murdaugh about the missing money — which ultimately totaled more than $2.8 million — on the morning of June 7, 2021, according to People.
During the confrontation, Seckinger testified that Murdaugh seemed annoyed but the tone of the conversation changed after he received a phone call about his father’s declining health.
She agreed they could discuss the missing money later, but the probe was postponed after Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were found shot to death on the family’s Colleton County hunting compound later that night.
"Everyone rallied to Alec's aid ... We weren't going to harass him when we were primarily concerned about his mental status, with his wife and child getting killed,” she testified, according to The Greenville News.
On the stand, Seckinger described Murdaugh as a somewhat unconventional lawyer who was “loud,” “busy,” and always on his phone. She believed his success at the firm came not from his legal abilities but from his relationships with others, including his colleagues at the firm who “trusted him.”
“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,” she testified Tuesday, according to The Daily Beast. “The art of bullshit, basically.”
After later digging into the alleged financial misconduct, Seckinger testified the firm discovered he had been stealing from the firm and his legal clients going back “some 10 years” before the double homicide.
“I take his conduct very personally. He stole money,” she said on the stand, according to People. “That money was stolen.”
The alleged financial misconduct would eventually come to a head in September of 2021, when Murdaugh’s law firm colleagues confronted him about the missing funds again, after which he allegedly confessed and resigned from the firm.
Although they had known each other since high school, Seckinger said the discovery left her questioning who Murdaugh really was.
"I don't think I ever really knew him," she said. "I don't think anybody knows him."
Jurors also heard from Ronnie Crosby, a managing partner at the law firm now known as the Parker Law Group, who had been extremely close with Murdaugh and his family.
“He was good with people,” Crosby testified, according to The Daily Beast. “Very good at reading people. Very good at understanding people. Very good at making people believe he cared about them and building a rapport and trust with them.”
Like Seckinger, Crosby confirmed that, after the double homicide, the firm decided to postpone any inquiry into the missing money — supporting the state’s theory that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to try to buy himself time to coverup the financial misdeeds.
"There's no way we are going to talk about money in the wake of the tragedy of June 7," he said. "I trusted Alec and I said, just let it go."
Crosby — who was referred to by the Murdaugh family as “Uncle Ronnie” — got emotional on the stand when recalling the close relationship that he had with Murdaugh’s youngest son, Paul.
Crosby said the 22-year-old used to take his own son hunting and fishing.
Murdaugh allegedly told his close friend that on the night of the murders he had fallen asleep on the couch around 8 p.m., while Maggie and Paul went down the dog kennels on the property, according to the testimony. Murdaugh said when he woke up, he went to visit his ailing mother before returning home around 10 p.m. to discover the bodies.
When prosecutors asked Crosby whether Murdaugh ever mentioned being down at the kennels before leaving for his mother’s home, Crosby testified, “he specifically said that he did not,” according to The Post and Courier.
Yet, prosecutors believe that a video captured on Paul’s cellphone at 8:44 p.m. that night seemingly refutes that claim. In the video, Paul is attempting to capture images of a dog’s tail for a friend as two other voices can be heard in the background.
After playing the video in court for Crosby, he said he was “100 percent sure” the three voices belonged to Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.
Two of Paul’s close friends also testified last week that they believed that it was Alex Murdaugh’s voice in the video, seemingly placing him at the scene just minutes before prosecutors believe the mother and son were gunned down.
After hearing from Murdaugh’s colleagues at the firm, jurors also heard from South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) analyst Megan Fletcher, who testified about finding gunshot residue on a blue raincoat allegedly left at Murdaugh’s parents’ home just days after the murder, the news outlet reports.
Mushelle Smith, who was caring for Murdaugh’s mother at the time, previously testified that she had seen Murdaugh come into the home carrying what looked like a blue tarp just days after the double homicide and taking the item upstairs. Investigators later discovered the blue raincoat upstairs in the home, according to The Greenville News.
On the stand Tuesday, Fletcher testified she discovered 38 confirmed particles of gunshot residue on the inside of the jacket. She also found two particles on the inside of the hood of the coat and at least one on the outside of the jacket.
There was also evidence of gunshot residue on the seatbelt of Murdaugh’s vehicle and the clothes he wore that night, she testified.
Fletcher was unable to say how the gunshot residue got onto the jacket.
When asked by Assistant Attorney General John Meadors whether gunshot residue could have gotten on the jacket if someone had used it to wrap up a recently fired firearm, Fletcher said it was possible.
Her testimony is expected to continue Wednesday morning with cross-examination by the defense.
Seckinger and others took the stand last week to share their accounts of Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes without jurors present, so that Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman could determine if prosecutors would be allowed to introduce evidence of the crimes. He ultimately permitted prosecutors to discuss the alleged financial crimes, telling the court, "I find that the jury is entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr. Murdaugh, because of his dire financial situation, threat of being exposed for committing the crimes for which he was later charged with, resulted in the commission of the alleged crimes."
If convicted, Murdaugh — who has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges against him — could be facing 30 years to life in prison.