Alex Murdaugh has admitted he ‘may’ have purposely dangled his solicitor’s badge out of his pocket on the night of his son’s boat crash to elicit a ‘warmer’ response from law enforcement.
The State this afternoon began cross-examining the disgraced legal scion, 54, after he took the stand to deny killing his wife and son at his family’s hunting estate in Moselle, South Carolina, on June 7, 2021.
At the time of Maggie and Paul’s deaths, Murdaugh was facing a civil suit over a fatal boat crash in which he son was driving under the influence in February 2019. He was being sued by the family of 19-year-old Mallory Beach over the wreck.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters grilled Murdaugh about whether he walked into the hospital that night flashing his solicitor’s badge, if he pressured other teenagers who were in the crash to lie to the cops, and why he had blue lights installed on his car.
Murdaugh first said he could not remember whether he was wearing the badge before jurors were shown photos which showed it was hanging out of his left pocket. ‘A badge has a warming effect with other law enforcement. If I was seeking an advantage as you say,’ he eventually conceded.
Alex Murdaugh admitted he ‘may’ have purposely dangled his solicitor’s badge out of his pocket on the night of his son’s boat crash to elicit a ‘warmer’ response from law enforcement
Murdaugh first said he could not remember whether he was wearing the badge before jurors were shown photos which showed the badge was hanging out of his left pocket. ‘A badge has a warming effect with other law enforcement. If I was seeking an advantage as you say,’ he eventually conceded
Murdaugh’s solicitor’s badge which he allegedly flashed at cops the night of the boat wreck
Murdaugh admitted he routinely left his badge on the dash to get better treatment if he was pulled over by cops
Waters asked: ‘Did you tell any of the kids not to cooperate with law enforcement?’
Murdaugh replied: ‘I never told anybody not to cooperate with law enforcement.’
Earlier he admitted he routinely left his badge on the dash to get better treatment if he was pulled over by cops.
Waters asked: ‘You used it to get better treatment if you got pulled over?’
Murdaugh answered: ‘I’d say that’s true.’
He said he had blue lights installed on his law firm-owned car by somebody who did work at one of the local sheriff’s offices.
He agreed that he got permission from his friend, Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland, who pleaded guilty to misconduct in office, assault and battery in 2020 when he was ousted from office.
Murdaugh testified that he had five cases in his two decades of working as a volunteer solicitor.
His main line of work was in securing lucrative settlements in personal injury cases for his family firm, Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth and Detrick. The firm has since been dissolved because he stole more than $10m from clients and partners.
Waters then moved on to grilling the disgraced scion over the money he stole, including from a teenage car crash victim who was left a quadriplegic.
He told the court he got almost $4.1m in legal fees from the $10.2m recovery he got for Hakeem Pinckney. But he stole Pickney’s settlement as well.
‘I admit candidly in all of these cases that I took money that was not mine, and I shouldn’t have done it,’ Murdaugh said. ‘I hate the fact that I did it. I’m embarrassed by it.’
At the time of Paul’s death, Murdaugh was facing a lawsuit over allowing his son to drive his boat under the influence of alcohol when 19-year-old Mallory (left and right) was killed in February 2019. Murdaugh told cops Paul and Maggie had been killed in revenge for the accident
Photos of the Murdaugh boat, the Sea Hunt, taken by investigators after Paul’s drunken boat wreck in February 2019
Pictured: Paul (right) walking with the group of friends to the yacht on the night of the crash
Maggie, Paul and Alex are pictured at the younger son’s high school graduation
Murdaugh said: ‘There were plenty of times where I took money that I shouldn’t have took … I lied to my clients, I mislead my clients and I stole money from my clients.’
He claimed: ‘They’re people that I still care about and I did them this way … The actions that I did wrong hurt the people that I cared about the most and I reaped a lot of havoc.’
The disgraced legal scion attempted to speed the line of questioning along as Waters walked him through specific cases where he wronged his clients and firm.
‘Mr. Waters, just to get through this quicker,’ Murdaugh said.
Waters interjected: ‘You may want to get through this quicker, but we’re not.’
Waters questioned Murdaugh if he was successful before the inherited legal empire crumbled over his thefts.
Murdaugh was hesitant to answer, saying he no longer views himself as successful. He denied that people saw him as a ‘big shot’ in the local community.
But he did agree that he might have been considered successful because he secured millions of dollars in lawsuits.
‘By those criteria, I was successful, certainly,’ he said. ‘But we’ve talked about a lot of my flaws here today, too. Do I feel like I was successful? No, sir.’
Murdaugh decided to take the stand Thursday in a last ditch move which his defense attorneys said they had advised him against over the raft of cross-examination he faces because of his financial crimes.
The disgraced legal scion, 54, told jurors: ‘Paul was so bad … My boy was lying face down and I could see his brain hanging on the side wall’
Buster watches his father with his hands over his mouth in the Colleton County courthouse Thursday
John Marvin Murdaugh and his wife Lizzie are followed by Buster and his girlfriend and Randy Murdaugh (blue shirt) arrive at the court Thursday
The Murdaugh clan including Alex’s sister Lynn (from left) his son Buster, sister-in-law Lizzie, and brothers John Marvin and Randy
Alex’s sister Lynn wipes her nose as Buster and his girlfriend Brooklynn White sit to her left
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian this morning admitted to the judge ‘[Murdaugh] indicated he doesn’t need to talk to me. It hurts my feelings.’
Harpootlian said ‘our advice to take the stand or not would have been different’ if the financial crimes he is accused of had been ruled out from cross examination.
The defense requested the judge bar prosecutors from questioning their client about the litany of financial crimes.
‘This is a Bernie Madoff trial, this isn’t a murder trial,’ Harpootlian said, as he warned the judge that the cross examination would last several days, with prosecutors poring over his financial misdeeds in minute detail.
Judge Clifton Newman has allowed the malfeasance into evidence because prosecutors say his soaring debts motivated the killings of his wife and son.
TIMELINE: NIGHT OF THE KILLINGS
Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at the family’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on the night of June 7, 2021.
Here are the key events in the timeline laid out by prosecutors:
At 7.56pm, Paul sent a Snapchat video to friends showing the 22-year-old riding around the estate with his father.
At 8.15pm, Murdaugh’s wife Maggie arrived home and the trio ate dinner together. Autopsies showed similar stomach contents in Maggie and Paul.
About 8.30pm, Paul’s phone starts moving towards the kennels.
Then at 8.44pm, a second video taken by Paul at the kennels – soon to become a murder scene – allegedly proves that Maggie, Paul and Alex were together.
At 8.49pm the prosecution say Paul’s phone locked and went silent forever, never to send another text or make another call.
Between 9pm and 9.30pm, Paul and Maggie were killed – according to the coroner.
At 9.06pm, Murdaugh’s car is fired up.
The alleged killer said he went to go visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in Almeda – around a 15-minute drive.
At 10.07pm, Murdaugh called 911 claiming he had arrived home a to find his wife and son shot dead.