Murdaugh Murder Trial: Prosecutors Zero in on Alex’s Flimsy Alibi, Possible Motive in Closing Argument

On Wednesday, the state provided their closing argument in the Alex Murdaugh trial — arguing that the disbarred attorney had a motive to kill his wife and son and provided an alibi which was proven to be false.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters stated that Alex’s mounting financial issues and fraud motivated him to kill Paul and Maggie at the family’s Colleton County property in 2021. The day of the slayings, Alex’s law firm reportedly confronted him about missing money that he later admitted to stealing to fuel his opioid addiction.

“Shame is an extraordinary provocation [for Alex]. His ego couldn’t stand that and he became a family annihilator,” Waters told the jury.

The two weapons used to kill Paul and Maggie were never recovered. Waters alleged that the two weapons were family guns that Alex used to carry out the slayings.

Despite the lack of a murder weapon, Waters cited experts who have disputed the defense’s claims that a wound at the top of Paul’s head was a contact wound. There has been no debate that Paul killed with a shotgun. Yesterday, Dr. Ellen Riemer testified that the head wound is an exit wound that killed Paul, who was shot twice.

Riemer said if the wound at the top of Paul’s head was a contact wound his face would not be intact. Riemer previously testified that Paul’s brain exploded to the point that his brain had to be brought to the autopsy room in a bucket.

When Riemer previously took the stand, she testified that the first shot that struck Paul did not kill him but the wadding from that shot was lodged in his chest cavity. His arm was apparently down when he was shot, with the first shot entering his chest and exiting his auxiliary, according to Riemer.

Riemer testified that Paul was still standing when he was shot the second time. That time, the shot entered his left shoulder and traveled to the left side of his head before exiting the top of his head, killing him.

Prosecutors also zeroed in on Alex’s admission that he lied about being at the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul on the night of their murders. While on the stand, Alex testified that a 20-year addiction to opioids led him to distrust law enforcement. Waters went on to say that Alex has a “photographic memory” but could not recall his whereabouts that night.

Alex has claimed he was napping on the family property when his wife and son went to the dog kennels and were fatally shot. Alex said he woke up and went to his mother’s home before returning and finding their bodies.

What brought Alex’s alibi under scrutiny, according to prosecutors, was a video Paul took minutes before he was killed which apparently captures Alex’s voice. Several witnesses attested to the fact that it was Alex’s voice before Alex testified and confessed it was him.

“We know that the defendant was there just minutes earlier, at the scene of the crime, with the victims,” he said.

During the trial, Shelly Smith, who was Alex’s mother’s caretaker testified that on the day of Alex’s father’s funeral, Alex came to his mother’s home in Varnville and told Smith that he was there for 30 to 40 minutes on the night of the slayings.

However, Smith said Alex was only there for 20 minutes on the night in question, including the five minutes he took to get into the home.

According to Smith, Alex did not tell her why he wanted her to know this information. Though she said the conversation concerned her to the point that she contacted her brother, who is the Varnville police’s assistant chief.

While on the stand, Smith said Alex came over at 9 p.m. on the night of the slayings, which she thought was unusually late. He allegedly also called the house phone to say he was there even though he was right outside the home.

Prosecutors said cell phone data and forensic evidence tie Alex to the slayings. Meanwhile, Alex’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said the cell phone records were incomplete and asserted that Alex would be covered in blood if he killed his wife and son at close range. Harpootlian said no blood was found on Alex’s clothing.

In September 2021, months after Paul and Maggie’s slayings, Alex suffered superficial head wounds when he allegedly had former client Curtis Smith, 61, shoot him in the head so his surviving son, Buster, would receive a $10 million insurance payout.

A day before the shooting, Alex was forced out of his family law firm amid allegations he misappropriated funds.

Two days after the apparent botched suicide, Alex announced he was entering rehabilitation for drugs. Shortly after that, he was charged with insurance fraud in connection with the September 2021 suicide-for-hire plot and released on bail.

However, in October 2021, Alex was rearrested upon leaving a rehabilitation center in Florida for allegedly stealing $4.3 million from Satterfield’s estate. In that case, he was accused of stealing insurance payouts that were intended for Satterfield’s family. Authorities plan to exhume her body amid an ongoing investigation regarding her death.

In addition to the murder charges, Alex faces more than 100 criminal counts related to fraud.

In June 2022, Alex and Smith were indicted for allegedly purchasing and distributing oxycodone in multiple counties. In December 2022, Alex was indicted for tax evasion for allegedly failing to claim the $6 million he allegedly earned through illegal acts between 2011 and 2019.

Alex was charged with Maggie and Paul’s murders days after he was formally disbarred by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

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