Closing arguments in the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh ended on Wednesday. Prosecutors sought to convince the South Carolina jury that Murdaugh murdered his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, and that the disbarred lawyer was a “family annihilator” who used the killings as a way to halt investigations into his alleged financial crimes.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters presented electronic data and video pulled from the victims’ cellphones, which he said placed Murdaugh at the crime scene on June 7, 2021. Multiple witnesses said Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of a video taken by Paul just minutes before prosecutors allege the murder took place. Murdaugh has since admitted that he lied to authorities about his whereabouts the night of the murders, but claims he was “nowhere near” his wife and son “when they got shot.”
Waters presented data extracted from Murdaugh’s cellphone, which allegedly tracked his steps and claimed that he moved at a faster pace after the murders before leaving the estate for his mother’s home.
“He wouldn’t even admit until he was forced to that he was at the scene,” Waters told the jury. “And then he’s as busy as he’ll ever be.”
Waters also claimed that Murdaugh had access to firearms before he shot his wife and son on the family’s Colleton County hunting compound in June 2021.
“She heard that shot and was running to her baby when she got mowed down by the only person that we have conclusive proof was at that scene just minutes before,” said Waters.
Shell casings found at the scene of the crime were used to match the type of weapons used to kill Margaret and Paul with firearms known to belong to the family. The prosecution said that investigators have not found the two murder weapons: a .12-gauge shotgun and .300 Blackout assault-style rifle.
Earlier Wednesday, jurors were given more than an hour to visit the outdoor estate where Margaret and Paul’s bodies were found, per NBC. The concrete pad where Paul fell after being shot twice by a shotgun was visible, while bullet holes in a back window were still visible, per the report.
In his closing arguments later that day, Waters described a “gathering storm” surrounding Murdaugh as his alleged financial troubles and reported thefts from clients and his former law firm threatened to be exposed.
“Those pressures mount,” said Waters, “and that person becomes a family annihilator.” Waters added, “They were all reaching a crescendo on the day his wife and son were murdered by him.” Prosecutors also said that Murdaugh has claimed Paul and his wife were murdered in connection to investigations over Paul’s role in a 2019 drunken boating accident that had left a 19-year-old woman dead, and implied that he’s tried to halt the investigation due to that incident and financial woes.
The murder trial of Murdaugh began in January and has involved more than a dozen witnesses for the defense and 61 for the prosecution. Murdaugh’s family members, including his younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh; surviving son, Buster; and the defendant himself; have testified before the 12-person jury.
If found guilty for the two counts of murder, Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without parole, in addition to another five years for two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.