A bombshell moment unfolded at Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial when he was accused of lying on the stand – about why he had lied over his alibi on the night of the murders.
At the end of an intense and lengthy cross-examination on Friday, the disgraced legal scion was confronted over what prosecutor Creighton Waters claimed was his latest lies to the court.
“All those reasons you just gave this jury about the most important part of your testimony was a lie, too, wasn’t it?” the prosecutor said.
Mr Murdaugh was confronted about his “new story” about the night of 7 June 2021 after he made the dramatic confession on the stand on Thursday to having lied for the past 20 months to law enforcement, his friends and law firm partners, and even his own family.
The 54-year-old admitted that he was at the dog kennels with his wife Maggie and son Paul minutes before their murders – coming only after jurors were shown a bombshell cellphone video placing him at the scene and after more than half a dozen witnesses identified his voice in the footage.
During a lengthy and combative cross-examination, the prosecutor spent hours building up a picture of Mr Murdaugh’s lies about his alibi for the night of the murders, his decade-long theft from law firm clients, the roadside shooting – and allegedly about killing his wife and son.
Jurors were shown how the accused killer kept up his alibi repeatedly for the night of the murders –seeing footage of his police interviews on the night of the murders as well as three days later where he lied about the last time he had seen them alive.
Mr Murdaugh testified that he had lied for the past 20 months because he was “paranoid” over his suspicions of SLED, warnings from his law firm partners about always have a lawyer present when speaking to the police and investigators having swabbed his hands for gunshot residue.
But, in a dramatic moment, Mr Waters poured cold water on this testimony as he played a clip from bodycam footage from the first officer to respond to the scene.
In the video, Colleton County Sheriff’s Sgt Daniel Greene asked Mr Murdaugh when he last saw Maggie and Paul.
At this moment – minutes after he claims he found his wife and son’s bodies – Mr Murdaugh gave his false version of events for the first time.
“It was earlier tonight. I don’t know the exact time,” he said.
“I was probably gone about an hour and a half to my mom’s and I saw them about 45 minutes before that.”
Car data, witness testimony – and now Mr Murdaugh’s own testimony – has proven this to be incorrect.
Instead, Mr Murdaugh spent just 20 minutes at his mother’s home (around 50 minutes including the journey to and from his home) departing at 9.06pm.
Based on the cellphone video taken by Paul at the dog kennels, Mr Murdaugh was at least with his wife and son up to 8.44pm – only around 20 minutes before he left for his mother’s house.
In the video, Mr Murdaugh does not mention whether or not he was at the dog kennels with them or where he last saw them.
Mr Waters pointed out that none of the factors Mr Murdaugh claimed prompted his “paranoid” fuelled lies were present at that time.
The officer did not work for SLED.
He arrived on the scene before Mr Murdaugh’s law firm clients had arrived at the estate and told him to have an attorney present.
And Sgt Greene was the first and only officer on the scene, with the sheriff’s office not swabbing him – or asking to swab him – until a while later.
“But you still told the same lie,” Mr Waters confronted him.
“And all those reasons you just gave this jury about the most important part of your testimony was a lie, too. Isn’t that true, Mr Murdaugh?”
Mr Murdaugh responded: “I disagree with that.”
The prosecutor said he had “nothing further” leaving Mr Murdaugh, looking somewhat dejected and defeated by what had just taken place.
Over two days of testimony, Mr Murdaugh has confessed to lying about not being at the dog kennels that night, lying to law firm clients and colleagues to steal millions of dollars in money, and lying about orchestrating the botched hitman plot.
But Mr Murdaugh has continued to deny killing Maggie and Paul.
“Mr Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?” Mr Waters confronted him.
Mr Murdaugh responded saying: “Like, did I shoot my wife and son? No.”
During a testy exchange, Mr Waters confronted the accused killer about his “new story” about being at the dog kennels – claiming he had been backed into a corner and had no choice but to change his story.
“You, like you have done so many times in your life, had to back up and make a new story to fit with the facts of your life,” Mr Waters said.
Mr Murdaugh denied this and instead sought to blame the prosecution for his lies rumbling on until his trial testimony, claiming that he tried to tell the truth – but that the state would not speak to him.
In a dramatic moment – laced with objections from the defence – Mr Waters pointed out that Mr Murdaugh’s own attorneys were not apparently aware of his change in story either.
Jurors heard how – at a time when Mr Murdaugh claims he wanted to come clean – his attorneys did a national TV interview in November last year “repeating your own lies” about his alibi.
Mr Murdaugh admitted that Thursday marked the first time since the 7 June 2021 murders that law enforcement, prosecutors, friends, colleagues – and his own brother Randy – had heard him change his story.
“Law enforcement, my partners and my friends heard me say that for the first time. Yes i agree with that,” he said.
Jurors have seen how in the 911 call that night, multiple police interviews, conversations with friends, family members and colleagues, Mr Murdaugh consistently denied ever being at the dog kennels that night.
Mr Waters grilled Mr Murdaugh about why – given his extensive experience of the justice system as an attorney from a long line of attorneys – “the last time you saw your wife and child you didn’t think was important” to share with law enforcement investigating their murders.
“I think it’s important,” he insisted.
Later in the cross, Mr Murdaugh was asked to pinpoint the exact moment in his first interview with law enforcement on the night of the murders that he “consciously decided” to lie about his movements.
Mr Murdaugh insisted that it wasn’t a conscious decision to lie, saying: “When I got thinking in paranoid way… it didn’t go away in a matter of seconds and I decided to lie.”
Part of his explanation was that he distrusted SLED – in particulaer SLED agent David Owen who responded to the scene of the murders.
Mr Murdaugh claimed that he mistook the agent for a different SLED agent he believed had falsified evidence in a case against Murdaugh family friend Yemassee police chief Greg Alexander.
The testy exchange came after Mr Murdaugh shocked the court during direct testimony when he confessed for the first time that he had lied about his alibi on the night of the murders.
At the start of testimony, the disgraced attorney admitted that he had lied about not going to the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul on the night of 7 June 2021.
He blamed his opioids addiction for giving him “paranoid thinking” and his distrust of SLED which together led him to lie to law enforcement agents, family members and friends on multiple occasions and for the past 20 months.
“On June 7, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I don’t think I was capable of reason. And I lied about being down there. And I’m so sorry that I did,” he said, his eyes brimming up with tears.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave. Once I told the lie, and I told my family, I had to keep lying,” he testified.
This marked the first time that Mr Murdaugh has ever confessed publicly or to law enforcement that he had lied.
This confession comes after jurors have seen Paul’s damning cellphone video which places him at the scene of the murders with his wife and son at 8.44pm. Multiple witnesses had identified his voice in the footage.
Prosecutors say that Maggie and Paul were killed minutes later at 8.50pm. Data suggests they last used their cellphones at 8.49pm.
Mr Murdaugh’s intense cross-examination began on Thursday afternoon, after he made the last-ditch decision to take the stand in his high-stakes murder trial.