COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Maggie Murdaugh’s family took the stand Tuesday, giving emotional testimony in the double-murder trial of her husband, Alex Murdaugh.
Murdaugh is accused of killing Maggie and his youngest son Paul at their family property in June of 2021.
WATCH: ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL: DAY 16 RECAP
Get caught up on the Alex Murdaugh investigations
Marian Proctor, Maggie’s only sister, described their last conversation just hours before the murders. Proctor said Murdaugh asked Maggie to come back to Moselle because he had just received bad news about his father’s health. Proctor encouraged her to go and be with him.
The state also used Proctor’s testimony to highlight how the boat crash was weighing heavily on the family.
Murdaugh’s team asked Proctor to describe his relationships with Paul and Maggie. She said Murdaugh and Paul had a wonderful relationship. She said that while Murdaugh and Maggie’s marriage wasn’t perfect, Maggie was happy.
Murdaugh’s team also used testimony from a neighbor who helped out with the dogs to portray Murdaugh in a softer light. They recalled a story in which one of the dogs was fatally injured and the family decided to put it out of its misery, but Murdaugh couldn’t bring himself to shoot it.
The jury also heard testimony from Proctor’s husband, the forensic pathologist who conducted Maggie and Paul’s autopsies, a representative from General Motors, and a forensic accountant who investigated Murdaugh’s financial crimes.
On Wednesday morning, Judge Clifton Newman will decide if — and how much of — testimony regarding Murdaugh’s September roadside shooting will be allowed before the jury.
The jury will also be retested for COVID-19, which could cause a delay if there are any positive results.
ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
4:29 p.m. – Since no more witnesses are available today, court is in recess until 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The jury will return at 10:30 a.m. so that lawyers can argue about whether information about the roadside shooting should be admitted.
The state argues that the motive behind the shooting was to distract from his financial crimes. Harpootlian says that Murdaugh intended to die in the shooting. He wanted Buster to get a $10-12 million insurance policy. Harpootlian says Murdaugh told SLED the truth because he didn’t want them wasting resources on trying to find the killer.
4:27 p.m. – In cross-examination, Griffin asks if Proctor was ever shown a blue raincoat by SLED agents. Proctor says yes, he and his wife were shown a picture.
Griffin asks if they recognized the coat. Proctor says no. He says he had never seen it.
4:23 p.m. – The state calls Bart Proctor, Marian Proctor’s husband, to the stand.
Waters asks if, in the aftermath of Maggie and Paul’s murders, Proctor was privy to some conversations that Murdaugh had with his wife. He says yes.
Waters plays the kennel video. Proctor identifies Paul, Maggie, and Alex’s voices in the video with 100% certainty.
4:14 p.m. – Judge Newman rules that Proctor can testify about what she found out in September that changed her mind about Murdaugh living in fear.
Proctor tells the jury about the September 4, 2021 phone call from a friend informing them Murdaugh had been shot. She said her family was hysterical and that they were worried for Buster’s safety. They called Buster and he was okay and said they thought Murdaugh would be okay.
Afterward, Proctor said they wanted more information so they called Jim Griffin. He told them that Murdaugh had been stealing from the law firm and was fired. As they learned more about what Murdaugh had been doing, Proctor says their perception of the family being threatened changed.
Proctor says that Maggie called Paul “little detective.” She says that Paul was always looking to make sure his dad was behaving. Waters asks in what regard? Proctor says pill usage. She says Maggie had expressed concerns about Murdaugh taking pills that he wasn’t supposed to. She said the problem had been going on for some time.
3:31 p.m. – Waters asks what came out in September that changed Proctor’s impression of what happened. The jury is sent to the jury room as she is expected to mention Murdaugh’s roadside shooting, which has not been admitted into this trial.
Without the jury present, Proctor reveals that they got a call from a friend the day Murdaugh was shot. They immediately called Buster to check on him. Proctor says she later talked to Jim Griffin, who told her Murdaugh had been stealing funds, was fired, and had an opioid addiction.
Waters also says he plans to ask whether Maggie was concerned about Murdaugh’s fidelity. Griffin says the basis of the question is something that she thought happened 15 years ago. Proctor says that they were able to resolve the issue and did not think anything was going on currently, but it still bothered her. Proctor agrees it happened a very long time ago.
Newman agrees the fidelity issue happened too long ago to be relevant to this testimony.
3:07 p.m. – Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins cross-examination.
He asks about the special relationship that Murdaugh had with the family. Proctor agrees everyone was very close.
Griffin shows a photo that Proctor took of the family the weekend before Memorial Day. That was the last time she saw Maggie.
Griffin asks if it made Maggie sad to go visit Murdaugh’s mother because of her deteriorating condition. Proctor says absolutely. She says Maggie went a lot but didn’t feel like she needed to go every day like Murdaugh did.
In the days after the murders, Proctor says she would agree that Murdaugh was destroyed. He and Buster spent a lot of time in Summerville after the murders.
Griffin asks if Maggie was on a mission to clear Paul’s name regarding the boating accident. Proctor says sort of.
She says she and Murdaugh never talked about finding the person who killed Maggie and Paul. She said that her family thought that the murders probably had something to do with the boat case, but their minds started to change in September.
Griffin asks what Proctor’s impression of Murdaugh and Paul’s relationship was. She says they had a great relationship. They liked all the same things. He asks about her impression of Murdaugh and Maggie’s relationship. She says it was good. It wasn’t perfect, but Maggie was happy.
2:40 p.m. – Maggie’s sister, Marian Proctor, is called to the stand.
She is Maggie’s only sibling. She says the two talked almost every day.
Proctor says that Maggie’s sons were her whole world; she was a girly-girl, but made the best of having two boys and picked up some of their hobbies to spend time with them.
Proctor describes Paul as a sweet, helpful boy. She says he was misrepresented by the media.
She says they had a comfortable life, not a lavish life, but Maggie was happy and money was never an issue for her. Proctor says that Maggie was not involved in the family finances.
Waters asks if Proctor is familiar with the boat crash. Proctor says yes. Waters asks if Maggie felt like there was backlash from the community. Proctor says yes, Maggie felt like the Hampton community had turned against her. She says it was very hard on the family.
Maggie was looking for another house around the time of the boat crash. She found a house that she liked but Proctor says she thinks Murdaugh advised against making an offer with everything going on.
On June 7, 2021, Proctor says Maggie called her and said that Murdaugh asked her to come to Moselle because he had just got bad news about his father’s health. Proctor says she thought they were going to go to Alameda to visit him.
Proctor says she encouraged Maggie to go to Moselle and be with Murdaugh because he was probably upset about his father. That was the last time they spoke.
That night, Proctor says she and her husband were watching a movie. Her husband got a text from Randy saying there had been a tragedy and asking him to call. Her husband called, then gave her the news. She says she didn’t believe it at first.
Proctor said they went to tell her parents, who live in Summerville. She says she thinks her mom went into shock when she got the news.
The next morning, they all went to Moselle.
Proctor says that Murdaugh was clearly upset after the murders. She asked him if he had any idea who did it. He said no, but that he believed whoever did it had thought about it for a very long time.
She says she didn’t talk to Murdaugh about what he did that night, but it wasn’t unusual for him to take a nap after dinner. Proctor says he spoke to her mom about what he did and never mentioned going to the kennels that night.
According to Proctor, Murdaugh was very intent on clearing Paul’s name in the days after the murders. He said it was his number one goal, which Proctor found odd because her number one goal was figuring out who killed Maggie and Paul.
Waters asks if Murdaugh ever seemed scared that someone was out to get him. Proctor says her whole family was afraid, but Murdaugh didn’t seem to be afraid.
2:28 p.m. – Court resumes with cross-examination of Burney by defense attorney Jim Griffin.
Griffin asks if Burney separated legitimate funds from stolen funds during his analysis of Murdaugh’s finances. Burney says yes.
They discuss Burney’s analysis of Murdaugh’s assets versus outstanding balances as of June 7, 2021. Burney says it did not include an assessment of Murdaugh’s 401K, equity in real estate holdings, interest, etc.
Griffin asks if Burney knew about Murdaugh’s holdings in a real estate partnership that owned the PMPED law firm building. Burney says he was made aware, but he only looked at liquid assets in the analysis.
Griffin asks how much of the $792,000 was sent to Curtis Eddie Smith. Burney says approximately half a million dollars.
1:00 p.m. – Court is breaking for lunch and will resume at 2:15 p.m.
12:41 p.m. – The state calls Carson Burney to the stand. He previously testified without the jury present.
Burney is a forensic accountant for the South Carolina Attorney General’s office. He traced funds Murdaugh stole as part of the financial crimes investigation.
He used the “first in, first out” method, assuming the first money into an account would be the first money out of the account.
He traced the $792,000 associated with the Farris case, which he said came in three separate checks from Wilson Law Group and was deposited into Murdaugh’s bank accounts. Burney found that the money was mostly spent on checks to associates and credit card payments.
The money was paid on March 10, 2021, with the last check deposited on April 20, 2021. The money was completely exhausted by May 2021.
Burney says that Murdaugh had a few Bank of America accounts, including the fake Forge account, and accounts at Palmetto State Bank. When checks went into the fake Forge account, they would typically be transferred into his personal account or cashed. Sometimes the money was then sent from his personal account to his PSB account, then dispersed.
Prosecution asks if, on June 7, 2021, Murdaugh had in his accounts enough money to settle his debts. Burney says he didn’t have enough to settle any one of them individually, much less all three.
12:38 p.m. – Prosecution asks if Murdaugh did a lot of hunting, which involves killing animals. Davis says Murdaugh hunted.
They discuss how water would pool if it was sprayed in the wrong area and rot the doors of the feed room.
Davis says it is fairly well-lit at the kennels if the lights are on.
Prosecution asks when Davis usually goes to bed. Davis says it depends. He says he showers around 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. and he’s in his recliner the rest of the day.
Prosecution asks if Davis saw any firearms out around the kennels on June 7, 2021. Davis says no.
12:24 p.m. – Defense attorney Jim Griffin begins cross-examination.
He asks if Murdaugh was particular about how the hose was wrapped. Davis says that Murdaugh wasn’t particular about how it was wrapped as long as it was up and out of his way.
Griffin asks about the family relationship. Davis says he’s never seen Murdaugh even raise his voice at his family. He says he’s never seen any of them argue and it seemed like Murdaugh did anything his wife and sons wanted.
Griffin asks Davis about a time one of the dogs was fatally injured. The family decided to shoot the dog and put it out of its misery. Murdaugh couldn’t shoot the dog, so he asked Davis to do it.
Davis lives a mile and a half away. Griffin asks if he heard any gunshots the night of June 7. Davis says no.
Griffin asks if Maggie would ever ride her bike to the feed room. Davis says in addition to driving her car, she would ride the bike, take the golf cart, and sometimes walk.
11:53 a.m. – Roger Dale Davis Jr. is called to the stand.
Davis has lived in Hampton County his whole life. He lives just over a mile away from Moselle and helps out with the dogs and chickens. Once around 7:00 a.m. and once around 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 p.m.
Davis says that he would feed the animals and wash out the kennels.
He talks about Maggie and how she was laid back and loved to spend time with the dogs. He says Paul was a little wild and crazy, but he would work at the farm as well.
Davis says that Murdaugh was particular about the way things were done. He says that Murdaugh was not easy to get ahold of because he was usually busy with work.
Davis says he mostly saw Maggie and Paul. He says they usually drove out to the kennels.
He lists all the dogs that stayed at the kennels. David says that there were three labs that were more family dogs, and Maggie would usually spend time with them. She would often take them with her when she left to go stay somewhere else.
Davis describes the particular way he would wind the hose at the kennels up. He says he always wound it up a certain way because if you didn’t, it would cause kinks in the hose, which could cause splits in it.
Prosecution shows a picture of the hose from the night of the murders. He says that he is confident someone used the hose after him on June 7, 2021, because it is not put back correctly.
He says there was nothing unusual when he was out there the day of the murders. He does not recall anyone being there around 4:00 p.m. when he was at the kennels, then he left around 4:30 p.m.
Davis identifies which kennel belonged to each dog and where water would typically pool. He says especially in the summer, it was rare for water to pool around the feed room.
Davis says that Paul favored a black 300-Blackout and a camo shotgun. He says that guns were left at the kennels occasionally, especially during hunting season. He said that guns were often left in cars and that Murdaugh kept a pistol in his car. However, in his four years working there every day, he never saw a gun in the feed room.
Davis says that he watched the video Paul took at the kennels the night of the murders and identified Maggie, Paul, and Alex’s voices.
11:51 a.m. – Defense begins cross-examining Newell. They ask if he is aware of the previous testimony given regarding the FBI’s analysis of the infotainment system.
He says he is aware there is testimony, but not of details.
Barber asks where timestamps in the data come from. Newell says he has not reviewed the specific data, but the timestamps come from the GPS server.
11:42 a.m. – Court is back in session. The state calls Devin Newell to the stand.
He is a technical expert in driver systems at General Motors.
SLED subpoenaed GM for information on Murdaugh’s vehicle and additional information was recently made available.
Information on the system, including GPS data and speed information, was provided. They do not go into details about the records.
11:15 p.m. – Court is in recess for 15 minutes.
11:01 a.m. – Prosecution follows up with Riemer.
State prosecutor Creighton Waters asks if looking at crime scene photos is part of Riemer’s conclusions. She says no. She looks at the body.
They discuss the difference between stippling and soot. Stippling is caused when the firearm is around two to three feet away. Soot is a more serious burn caused by hot gunpowder when it is fired from around six inches away.
Waters asks if Riemer saw any evidence of a contact wound in Paul. Riemer says no. She has conducted thousands of autopsies and is a professor in the field. She says in her professional opinion, there was no contact wound to the back of the head.
All of her training and experience leads her to believe the shot entered through the left shoulder, then the cheek/jaw, then exited through the top right part of Paul’s skull.
9:42 a.m. – Court resumes with cross-examination of MUSC forensic pathologist, Dr. Ellen Riemer.
Riemer conducted the autopsies on Maggie and Paul.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian begins by acknowledging that the testimony will be graphic.
Harpootlian asks if Riemer noted a bruise or mud on the back of a calf consistent with someone stepping on her. She says no. He presents a photo of her calf taken at the crime scene. Riemer says she did not see the photo.
They discuss the likely proximity to the shooter in comparison to each of Maggie’s wounds. Some had stippling, indicating they were fired from a closer distance. They also discuss Maggie’s likely positioning when she received each of the wounds.
Harpootlian asks if Riemer was asked to look at the pattern of ejected shells from the 300-blackout. Riemer says no. She composes autopsy reports without any reference to the scene, she says.
They discuss Paul’s injuries. Riemer believes the shot to the chest was the first shot because the second shot would have been immediately terminal and caused him to fall to the ground.
Harpootlian calls defense attorney Phillip Barber to help Riemer demonstrate the trajectory of Paul’s wounds.
They show that the first wound entered from close range through the left side of Paul’s chest and came out just under his left arm. Riemer does not believe Paul’s arm was raised at the time.
Harpootlian asks if Riemer has ever seen crime scene photos. Riemer says she may have seen one recently, but she did not when she was performing her autopsy. Harpootlian asks if she would be surprised that the first shot that hit Paul went through a back window of the feed room then continued on and hit a tree. She says it would be consistent based on the trajectory and the small size of the room.
They discuss “beveling,” which is a pattern that bullets leave on bones It helps forensic pathologists identify entrance and exit wounds even in skeletal remains. Riemer says that beveling is not always reliable, especially when there is serious destruction.
The second shot skimmed the top of his left shoulder and went into his left neck/jaw area. Riemer says she believes his head was tilted down and slightly turned towards the shooter, which is why his face was spared.
Autopsy X-rays of Paul showing the spray of shotgun pellets in his shoulder, neck, and brain are shown in court. Murdaugh appears extremely emotional.
Riemer says that she didn’t think any of the shots were buckshots because buckshots are extremely large, but she says it is up to firearms experts to make that determination and she wouldn’t dispute their findings.
Riemer says the fatal shot exited out the top right side of Paul’s head. She says it caused catastrophic damage and a piece of Paul’s skull was missing. There was no stippling associated with the final shot, so it was likely fired from over three feet away.
Harpootlian shows Riemer a book about gunshot wounds, which she says is well respected and widely known in her field. They go to page 228 and introduce a copy of that page into evidence.
The passage discusses the destructive nature of shotgun wounds to the head. The book identifies two factors as being the reason for that destruction: the charge of the shot entering the skull and the gas cloud which produces pressure inside the skull. Riemer notes that the passage is referring to contact wounds, but the results are similar.
Harpootlian asks if the muzzle of the shotgun were three to four feet away, would gas have still entered the body? Riemer says gas can still be destructive from a distance. She doesn’t know if in this case, it is gas, but there is some amount of energy that causes the destruction from a distance.
Harpootlian notes that Paul’s entire brain exploded out of his head and was brought to Riemer in a separate back. She agrees. She says the brain stem was really the only thing left intact.
She says that the state showed her a few thumbnail photos of the crime scene a few weeks before trial, but she really didn’t look at them.
Harpootlian shows a photo of wounds to Paul’s shoulder and cheek. There are two entrance wounds, one on the shoulder and one on the cheek, which Riemer says were both made from the same bullet. The one on the shoulder is larger than the one on the cheek. Riemer explains that the shoulder wound is larger because the bullet entered from an angle, which created a more oblong entrance shape. The one on the cheek entered more straight-on, which left a smaller, more round wound.
Harpootlian asks if the wound on the cheek could be an exit wound from a contact wound to the top of the back of the head. He appears to introduce a theory that Paul was shot at close range in the back of the head and that bullet exited through the cheek and then hit the shoulder. Riemer says that theory is not consistent with the nature of Paul’s wounds, in her expert opinion.
Harpootlian presents an extremely graphic photo of Paul at the scene. Riemer says she has never seen the photo.
Harpootlian points out a semi-circle defect in Paul’s skull. He asks if it could be a contact wound with the back of the head. Riemer says that she would expect to see soot with contact wounds, which she sees none of in this case.
Harpootlian asks if Paul’s head was shaved during the autopsy to get a better assessment of the wound. Riemer says no. She determined that it was an exit wound. She did shave Maggie’s head because she had an entrance wound to the head, but shaving the head is not standard for exit wounds.
Harpootlian asks if she ever looked for soot or stippling on Paul’s head and noted that her notes made no mention of either. Riemer says that she did look, but does not document the absence of stippling or soot on exit wounds. She says that she assessed the wound and the body in its entirety and is confident in her conclusion.
Harpootlian pushes the idea of Paul being shot at close range in the back of the head. Riemer says that if that had happened, there would have been much more fracturing of the brain, skull, and face. In this case, Paul’s brain was ejected but left intact and the front of his face was left intact. A contact wound would’ve left much more damage. She says there would also be a lot more pellet wounds on the shoulder if it was the area of the exit as opposed to the entrance.
Riemer says that her assessment is not theoretical. She can see the patterns in the skin and bones that lead her to her conclusion.
STAY CONNECTED: Receive news alerts from this trial and watch it on the go with the NEWS 2 APP (download it here). You can also subscribe to daily emails for the latest news on this trial.