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Prosecutor hammers on Alex Murdaugh’s many admitted lies in closing argument of double murder case

The South Carolina prosecutor warned jurors during closing arguments that the disbarred attorney who tearfully testified last week had lied easily and often to authorities and loved ones during the double murder investigation.

Walterboro, S.C. (CN) — The trial for Alex Murdaugh entered its final phase as the lead prosecutor on the case offered his closing arguments for how the once well-respected attorney from a prominent family found himself charged with the brutal murders of his wife and son.

Creighton Waters, the gray-haired and goateed state prosecutor, outlined the evidence in the professorial manner that has defined the state’s presentation during the more than monthlong trial. He meticulously moved through the timeline of the murders and the evidence that tied Murdaugh to the crimes during three hours of argument, emphasizing for the jury that the defendant who tearfully testified only days earlier had lied easily and often to authorities and loved ones.

“It’s a different story that has never been seen before,” Waters said about the case, but that’s because Murdaugh is an unusual suspect, he added.

The 54-year-old man at the center of the trial was once the well-respected scion of a local legal dynasty established by his great-grandfather more than a century ago. He earned millions litigating personal-injury cases for the family’s law firm in Hampton while occasionally moonlighting as a prosecutor, usually working cases with his father, the last in a line of Murdaughs to serve as the elected solicitor for five counties in the state’s Lowcountry.

Murdaugh called authorities to report finding the bodies of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul shortly after 10 p.m. on June 7, 2021, near the kennels at the family’s sprawling hunting estate in Colleton County. His 52-year-old wife was shot with a rifle while their youngest son was blasted twice with a shotgun in crimes a defense attorney described as a “butchering.”

Friends and colleagues testified they tried to comfort the family patriarch who seemed shattered by the murders. Murdaugh repeatedly blamed the crimes on vigilantes incensed by his son’s alleged role in a 2019 boat crash that killed a 19-year-old girl.

Further revelations would leave many of those same friends and colleagues feeling betrayed as the gregarious attorney would be ousted from his family’s law firm and charged with fraud on allegations he stole millions of dollars from his clients to feed a decadeslong opioid addiction.

The day after he resigned from the firm, Murdaugh asked his drug dealer to shoot him in the head on the side of a county road so his surviving son could collect from his life insurance policy, he testified. He survived the shooting and claimed an unknown assailant had targeted him while he was stranded with a flat tire.

That lie would unravel a week later and land Murdaugh behind bars, where he would remain until a grand jury handed down the two indictments for murder in July.

By then, authorities had unlocked the passcode on Paul’s cellphone and discovered a video the young man recorded at the kennels on the night of the murders. Multiple witnesses testified that Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of the video, even as the defendant repeatedly told investigators he had not been at the crime scene before discovering the bodies.

Murdaugh took the stand last week and admitted he lied in interviews with law enforcement. He had been at the kennels, but he said he left after a few minutes and went back to the house, where he briefly napped before going to visit his ailing mother, he testified.

Murdaugh’s testimony was only a continuation of the lies he told for years — to family members, friends and colleagues, Waters warned jurors.

Murdaugh testified he used more than 1000 milligrams daily of Oxycodone, a powerful pain medication, but managed to continue practicing law and hide the addiction from his colleagues, an outlandish lie the state prosecutor said was told to garner sympathy.

The defendant told the jury he lied to investigators and family members about visiting the kennels on June 7, in part, because he distrusted state police. But Waters pointed out to the jurors that Murdaugh was a badge-carrying prosecutor who testified to having close personal and professional relationships with many law enforcement officials.

He “fast talked” his former clients and stole millions of dollars from them in a fraud that propped up his perilous finances amid crushing debts, Waters said. The prosecutor compared the fraud to a Ponzi scheme — Murdaugh stole and borrowed from new victims to pay off the old ones until the magnitude of the crimes became too much to hide.

The “gathering storm” was about to arrive on June 7, 2021, Waters said. The chief financial officer for the law firm was questioning Murdaugh about missing attorney fees — money Murdaugh later admitted he stole. Meanwhile, a judge was mulling whether to expose Murdaugh’s financial records as part of a lawsuit tied to the boat crash. Randolph Murdaugh, the former longtime solicitor for the region and the defendant’s father, was in ailing health and the pool of money that kept his scheme hidden was beginning to dry.

“The pressures on this man were unbearable,” Waters said. “And they were all reaching a crescendo on the day his wife and son were murdered by him.”

Murdaugh planned the murders and then used his knowledge as a prosecutor to cover it up, Waters argued. He used two different weapons — a shotgun and a rifle — to make it appear there were two killers. He killed his wife and son at the estate’s kennels because it was easy to clean up the scene before speeding off to his parent’s house to visit his mother, establishing an alibi.

Ballistic evidence indicated the family’s guns were used to slay the wife and son, but neither weapon was located after the crime, Waters said. Murdaugh insisted in a conversation with his mother’s caretaker, a key alibi witness, that he visited his mother for longer than she remembered before offering to help pay for the woman’s wedding.

Murdaugh was the “master liar” who was now trying to fool the jury, Waters argued.

“He fooled Maggie and Paul, and they paid for it with their lives,” he told the jury. “Don’t let him fool you, too.”

The defense is expected to offer its closing arguments Thursday morning. The prosecution will then have the chance to offer rebuttal arguments before the case goes to deliberations.

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