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Cell Phone Video From Paul Murdaugh Places Alex Murdaugh At Murder Scene, Prosecutors Say
While prosecutors said evidence discovered at the crime scene points to Alex Murdaugh as the killer, his defense attorneys contend he was a "loving husband and doting father."
As opening statements got underway Wednesday in the trial of Alex Murdaugh, prosecutors stressed the critical role cell phone data—including a video taken by Paul Murdaugh just minutes before his death—will play in laying out their theory of the case.
Murdaugh is accused of gunning down his wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son Paul, 22, on the night of June 7, 2021 at the family’s Colleton County hunting compound.
The video also picked up the voices of Maggie and Alex Murdaugh, even though Alex told investigators that he had not been at the kennels that night.
By 8:49 p.m. Waters said both Maggie and Paul’s phones were locked and were never used again, The New York Times reports. Prosecutors believe the mother and son were killed around the same time.
“He was at the murder scene with the two victims and more than that just over four minutes later … Paul’s phone locks forever,” Waters said, according to the New York Post. “He never reads another text, never sends another text, doesn’t answer calls.”
After the murders, prosecutors allege Alex called his wife twice and texted her that he was going to visit his ailing mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, in what Waters described as an attempt to create an alibi.
He left the home around 9 p.m., visited his mother for about 20 minutes and then returned home just after 10 p.m. and called 911, claiming to have just stumbled upon bodies, Waters alleged.
A blue raincoat was later found at the home of Alex Murdaugh’s parents “wadded up” and “covered with gunshot residue,” he said, according to NBC News.
Paul was shot in the chest, shoulder and head with a 12-gauge shotgun. His mother was found nearby with gunshot wounds to her abdomen, leg and head from a 300 Blackout ammo AR-style rifle.
Waters said investigators later discovered bullet casings around the property that matched those in Maggie’s body, leading authorities to conclude she had been killed with a “family weapon,” The New York Times reports.
Empty boxes of ammunition matching the type of ammo used to kill both victims were also found at the property.
According to Waters, Alex was unable to account for two of three rifles that the family had purchased over the last few years.
Prosecutors believe Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an attempt to cover up a long string of financial crimes that were about to come to light, according to court documents previously obtained by Oxygen.com.
The 54-year-old is facing around 100 other criminal charges in connection with schemes to allegedly steal millions from his former law firm, clients and others.
In his own opening statement, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian described Alex as a “loving husband and doting father” and said the pure brutality of the murders proved he wasn’t the killer.
“He didn’t kill—butcher—his son and his wife,” Harpootlian said, according to The New York Times. “And you need to put from your mind any suggestion that he did.”
He said Murdaugh came home to find his son “laying in his own blood … shot to hell” with his “brain lying at his feet,” according to media reports.
"I want you to hear that 911 tape, a man hysterical and in grief," Harpootlian said in court.
As Harpootlian described the crimes gruesome details, Alex began to openly sob, The Post reports.
His sole surviving son Buster—who has yet to speak publicly about the murders—sat stoically several rows behind his father.
Harpootlian told jurors that it was “much more likely” Maggie and Paul were killed by two unknown killers, given that both were killed with different weapons.
The high-profile trial, which will continue on Thursday, is expected to last three weeks.