Alex Murdaugh’s double-murder trial is set to hear from the attorney for the family of a teenage girl who was killed in a boat driven by his drunken son Paul.
Mark Tinsley, who represents Mallory Beach’s mother, will be called to the stand as prosecutors continue laying out evidence about Murdaugh’s financial crimes in the absence of the jury.
At the time of Paul’s death he was facing a wrongful death lawsuit after crashing his father’s boat while under the influence of alcohol in February, 2019. Murdaugh told cops Paul and his mother Maggie had been killed in revenge for the accident.
However, prosecutors say that on the day Paul and Maggie were murdered, Murdaugh had been confronted over $792,000 he had siphoned from his law firm in a bid to shield his fortune from Beach’s family.
Judge Clifton Newman is expected to rule later this morning on whether jurors will be allowed to hear the evidence – which has so far come from six witnesses – which prosecutors say is essential to proving that Murdaugh killed his wife and son.
Alex Murdaugh arrives with his jacket hiding his handcuffs for day eleven of his double murder trial at Colleton County Court in Walterboro on Monday
The defense theory is that somebody killed Paul and Maggie in revenge for the boating accident in February 2019 that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach (pictured) dead.
Paul was driving his father’s boat (pictured after the crash) in February 2019
Alex Murdaugh pictured with his wife Maggie and their two sons Paul (left) and Buster
The state argues Murdaugh shot his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, at their hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina, on June 7, 2021, to divert attention away from a decade of malfeasance that was gathering ‘like a perfect storm.’
Murdaugh’s defense team want the evidence tossed out, arguing that there is ‘no logical connection’ between the financial impropriety and the killings.
Murdaugh – a chronic opioid addict – would go on to arrange for a hitman to shoot him in the head three months later in a botched life insurance fraud scheme.
The jury have been dismissed as the sensational allegations have been heard by Judge Newman.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters last week told the judge: ‘When the hounds are at the door, when Hannibal’s at the gate for Alex Murdaugh, violence happens.’
He told the judge the evidence was essential for jurors to understand the defendant was ‘out of options and out of time.’
Waters said: ‘He was burning through cash like crazy. He was out of options. The $792,000 was gone in no time at all. He had been living in a velocity of money that is really quite stunning.
‘And he constantly needed to achieve more money to avoid the reckoning that was coming.
‘The evidence will show on that particular date, June 7, 2021, when he’s being asked about these fees, the financial condition is not there. He’s extremely leveraged in the debt that he has.
‘And he’s forced to do these things to stay ahead.’
He argued that evidence about Murdaugh paying a hitman to shoot him in the head 12 weeks after the killings of his wife and son was relevant because there was a ‘symmetry’ between the two acts of violence which centered around money.
But defense attorney Jim Griffin said: ‘Your honor there is no logical connection and it does not lead to evidence of motive.’
Murdaugh’s lawyer places a hand on his shoulder to comfort him as he sobs. The 30-minute interview took place around 1am – about four hours after the killings – inside a state agent’s vehicle.
‘There is no financial gain, there is nothing to be gained … it is all just a theory, there are no facts,’ he told the judge.
He rubbished the idea that killing his wife and son would help Murdaugh ‘get out from scrutiny.’
The judge was forced to exclude the jury as the state called to the witness stand on Thursday Jeanne Seckinger, who was CFO at Murdaugh’s firm Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), at the time of the killings.
She recounted how on the day of the murders she had confronted Murdaugh about the missing $792,000.
‘He was leaning on a file cabinet outside his office,’ Seckinger told the court. ‘He looked at me and said “what do you want now?” and gave me a very dirty look, not a look I had ever got from him before.’
Seckinger said she told him they better step into his office and she proceeded to tell him how she had reason to believe he had received the funds owed to the law firm for the case.
The CFO explained that in their line of work all fees went directly to the legal firm – if not, ‘that would be stealing.’
Seckinger said that Murdaugh assured her that the money was there and that he could get it – he then went on to discuss his ailing father, the family patriarch Randolph III, and the conversation between the pair continued ‘as friends.’
Later that day, prosecutors allege Murdaugh killed his wife and son.
Seckinger said that, as a result, her inquiries to Murdaugh about the missing funds ceased immediately.
‘Alex was distressed and upset and nobody wanted to harass him about it,’ she told the court.
In addition, an upcoming hearing in the civil lawsuit Murdaugh and his son were facing over a fatal boat crash was cancelled. Paul crashed his father’s boat while under the influence of alcohol, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach in February 2019.
However, Seckinger said partners at PMPED continued discussions about the missing funds behind closed doors.
Indeed, PMPED uncovered a series of thefts from 2011 to 2012 Murdaugh perpetrated against the Badger family after their mother, Donna, was killed in a crash with a UPS truck. She said Murdaugh stole $1.3m in addition to the $1.2m he took in legal fees.
It was decided on September 2, 2021, that Murdaugh’s brother Randy and firm partner Lee Cope would meet with him privately to confront him.
Murduagh is said to have admitted the theft, and resigned on the spot.
This was 12 weeks after the murders of Maggie and Paul.
Two days later, news broke that Murdaugh had been shot.
Murdaugh wearing a white t-shirt and khaki shorts after cops arrived (left). He called 911 at 10.07pm on June 7, 2021. Earlier, in a Snapchat video taken by Paul at 7.56pm, Murdaugh wears a blue dress shirt and beige pants
Prosecutor Creighton Waters asks witness Jeff Croft, a SLED senior special agent, about a .300 Blackout rifle recovered from the property. Paul was killed with a shotgun and Maggie with a rifle – but no murder weapon has ever been found
Alex Murdaugh with his son Paul and wife Maggie. The pair were 22 and 52-years-old when the prosecution say the disgraced attorney shot them dead at the Moselle estate on June 7, 2021
Seckinger said she was out on a boat with her family when someone from the emergency services informed her that Murdaugh had been shot in the head on the side of Old Salkehatchie Road in Hampton, and he was being flown by helicopter to the hospital in Savannah.
Her immediate reaction was fear. ‘Was this retaliation? Was he involved in something bigger that was going to get more of us in trouble?’ She told the court.
The court did not hear more evidence of that shooting – but it is a matter of public record that the legal heir has admitted that he arranged to have a hitman shoot him in a botched life insurance scam.
Medical records released by his legal team in October 2021 in a bid to boost his credibility confirmed that he claimed he had paid his cousin Edward Smith to shoot him on the side of the road.
He wanted it to look like a drive-by shooting so that Buster, his surviving son, would receive a payout on his life insurance policy.
Murdaugh survived and called 911. At first he said he had been killed in a drive-by shooting.
Smith – who is facing charges for the incident – claimed he had no role in the suicide scam and was trying to stop Murdaugh from killing himself when the gun went off.
In court Thursday, the state called Murdaugh’s close friend and colleague Chris Wilson. The jury were also not present for this evidence.
Wilson said they were roommates in law school and became best friends. Wilson added he thought Murdaugh was his best friend and thought he felt the same way.
Waters asked: ‘You feel that way now?’
‘I don’t know how I feel now Mr. Waters,’ Wilson said, his voice cracking.
Wilson worked on the case with Murdaugh in which $792,000 in legal fees disappeared.
This sparked the investigation by the law firm, PMPED.
Wilson testified Murdaugh admitted he had stolen money and had been addicted to opioids for 20 years
Wilson told the court that he was informed on September 3, 2021, by PMPED attorney Lee Cope that Murdaugh had been stealing money from the law firm.
He met with Murdaugh in at his parents’ home in Almeda.
‘I was so mad. I had loved the guy for so long, and I probably still love him a little bit, but I was so mad.’
Wilson grew emotional as he told the court he does not know how he did not notice his friend’s life was descending into chaos.
‘He told me that he had been stealing money.’ Murdaugh admitted that he had ‘sh*t me up.’ He said he had ‘sh*t a lot of people up.’
Wilson later found out that Murdaugh had been shot in the head.
‘What in the devil is going on?’ Wilson told the court he thought at the time. ‘I thought he had tried to kill himself.’
While Murdaugh has reached out, Wilson hasn’t spoken to him since.
One of the texts sent to Wilson said: ‘So sorry for the havoc I created. I’d do anything to make it right.’
WHERE MAGGIE DIED: A pool of blood is seen outside the kennels near the doghouse where Maggie Murdaugh was shot dead. Fire AR bullets in total, with two piercing her brain
WHERE PAUL DIED: Blood spatters on the floor inside the storage room at the kennels where Paul Murdaugh was shot dead. He was killed with a shot to the chest and a second to the head. Two shotgun shells were recovered by cops – two 12-gauge shells, two different brands – one Federal, the other Winchester
MURDER SCENE: Paul’s body lies outside the storage room, while Maggie lies just outside the kennels by the doghouse
The trial is taking place at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a sleepy, rural town 50 miles west of Charleston in a low-lying region of South Carolina over which the Murdaugh family has wielded immense judicial and political power.
Indeed, in the courtroom where Murdaugh faces judgment, a portrait of his late grandfather – legendary longtime 14th Circuit Solicitor Buster Murdaugh Jr. – had hung on the wall before it was removed ahead of the trial.
Prosecutors have said Murdaugh killed his wife and child to generate sympathy and distract from his financial crimes, an alleged motive that Murdaugh’s lawyers have argued doesn’t make sense.
But he has adamantly insisted from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times that he was not the killer.
Following the murder trial, Murdaugh will have to face more than 100 additional criminal charges, ranging from drug trafficking to allegations that he stole nearly $9million from clients and other attorneys.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh lured his wife and son to their 1,700-acre hunting lodge and shot them dead.
The state also claims that his life was spiraling out of control amid years of opioid addiction and ballooning debts.
Murdaugh pleaded not guilty in June, and the blockbuster trial is expected to include wild allegations of dark family secrets, financial ruin and hedonistic excess.
In total, over 220 people could testify against Murdaugh in the trial.