Alex Murdaugh sobs in front of surviving son during opening statements in murder trial

Accused killer Alex Murdaugh broke down in tears in a South Carolina courtroom on Wednesday during opening statements in his murder trial.

The disgraced 54-year-old legal descendant, accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, began to sob as his lawyer Dick Harpootlian described the grisly scene of the double murder at the family hunting lodge of Islandton in June. 2021.

Murdaugh and his wife’s only surviving son, Buster, 26, sat stoically behind his father at the Colleton County Courthouse during the moving opening remarks in his first public appearance at his father’s court proceedings .

Harpootlian said that on the night of the murders, Murdaugh, on returning from his mother’s house, “comes home to find his son lying in his own blood…shot in hell.”

Murdaugh began to cry when his attorney gave a grisly description of his son’s slain body.

As the lawyer recounted the horror, Murdaugh began whining in his seat.

“He’s checking to see if there’s life there…he’s trying to take Maggie’s pulse” before calling 911, he said.

Maggie, 52, had been shot multiple times before receiving a single blow to the back of the head as she lay face down.

“Whoever it was, he walked over, took that AR and put one in the back of his head. Accomplished. Why? It’s going to be interesting because we don’t know why,” he said, adding that Murdaugh had his own theories.

Murdaugh's surviving son, Buster, 26, sat behind his father on Wednesday.
Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster, 26, sat behind his father, accused of killing his mother and brother on Wednesday.

Harpootlian said his client would have been covered “head to toe” in blood if he had killed his son.

No bloodied clothing was ever found, Harpootlian said, and Murdaugh wore a white shirt the night of the murders. The shirt was described as key evidence that was destroyed by the state before the defense could forensically test the shirt themselves, Murdaugh’s attorneys said in a November filing.

Harpootlian said “it is much more likely” that there were two shooters – neither of whom was Murdaugh – which would explain the use of two separate weapons.

South Carolina Chief Prosecutor Creighton Waters claimed there is “crucial evidence” found in phone records of Murdaugh and victims that can place him at the scene at the time of the murders, and suggested that he may have been trying to come up with an alibi in the hours that followed.

Murdaugh denied ever being near the kennels, where the bodies were found, on the night of the murders.

Alex Murdaugh wipes away a tear
Alex Murdaugh wipes away a tear at the Colleton County Courthouse where he is on trial for double murder.

“But the evidence is going to show that those things that each of us carry in our pockets, that he was there and he was there minutes before with Maggie and Paul just before their cell phones went silent forever and ever “, Waters said, holding up a cell phone.

Waters said Murdaugh, Maggie and Paul were all known as “prolific” cellphone users.

Moments before they were killed, Paul took video of a friend’s dog at the kennel, in which both Murdaugh and Maggie can be heard, he said.

“He was at the murder scene with both victims and more than that just over four minutes later… Paul’s phone locks forever. He never reads another text, never sends another text, doesn’t answer calls.

According to Waters, records show Murdaugh called his wife and texted her after they died to tell her he was leaving. He then got into his car to visit his ailing mother – who suffered from an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease – around 9.06pm before returning to the property at 10.01pm. He called 911 at 10:06 p.m., the prosecutor said.

[From left]    Buster, Maggie, Paul and Alex
Maggie and Paul [center] were found shot dead in June 2021.

Waters and Harpootlian warned jurors of the gruesome images they are seeing moving around during the trial, which is expected to last about three weeks.

“You’re going to see what he did to Maggie and Paul,” Waters said. “It’s going to be awful. There is no other way around this. That’s what he did.

Photograph by Alex Murdaugh
Murdaugh faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
by Reuters

Murdaugh, who pleaded not guilty to the murders, also faces 99 separate charges of financial fraud which will be dealt with at a later trial.

If convicted of murder, he faces a minimum sentence of 30 years. Prosecutors are not pursuing the death penalty.

Buster declined to comment publicly on the charges against his father.

Little is known about him outside of photos showing him in Las Vegas with his uncle after the murders, and prison recordings of fairly generic conversations between him and his incarcerated father.

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