Jury hears graphic testimony as defense rests in Murdaugh murder trial
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - The defense in the Alex Murdaugh double-murder trial rested its case after calling 14 witnesses over the course of a week.
The disbarred Lowcountry attorney is charged with gunning down his wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, Paul at the family’s hunting property on Moselle Road in rural Colleton County back on June 7, 2021.
The last witness that jurors heard from was Murdaugh’s brother, John Marvin Murdaugh.
Murdaugh’s brother testified about the night of the murders and going to Moselle the next morning.
John Marvin Murduagh said his brother sounded normal on a phone call they had while Alex was driving to visit his mother on the night of the murders. He says when he heard from him later that night he knew something was wrong.
“Alex called me and, just, absolutely hysterical,” John Marvin Murdaugh said. “As soon as I heard his voice, I knew something bad was going on. I didn’t know what.”
He said he went back to Moselle the next morning because he needed to see the scene for himself. He said the feed room where Paul Murdaugh’s body was located hadn’t been cleaned and there was still blood all over the room.
John Marvin Murdaugh said he just started cleaning it up because he felt like he needed to do it for Paul.
“No mother or father or aunt or uncle should ever have to see and do what I did that day,” John Marvin Murdaugh said.
BLOG: Day 25: Murdaugh defense rests its case; jury to visit Moselle property
He told jurors that he had known about Alex Murdaugh’s voice being heard in the kennel video since August 2022 when he says he was called to the office of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and played the video.
“That was the reason for me being there was to hear that audio and I saw the kennel and at that point, I heard his voice and I knew it was him,” John Marvin Murdaugh said.
Murdaugh’s brother also weighed in on the comment made to SLED investigators on the night of the murders saying he heard “they did him so bad” and that Alex had said the same thing that night and has said it since that night.
Two experts called by Murdaugh’s defense team testified Monday with a new theory about how his youngest son lost his life.
Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat was asked to review the reports of Dr. Ellen Rimer and said he agreed on four of the five shots that hit Maggie Murdaugh.
Riemer said one of the shots traveled through Maggie’s chest and into her brain. Eisenstat said he believed it was traveling in the other direction.
Eisenstat testified that he believed the fatal shotgun blast that killed Paul Murdaugh was a close contact shot to the back of his head fired downward.
Eisenstat’s testimony about the fatal shot differed from the medical examiner who examined Paul’s body.
“There’s no skull here,” Eisenstat said. “That’s probably the area where the shotgun was pressed against the head and we’ve got all of these fractures. In medical terms, we call it multiple cumulated fractures. This is textbook contact range shotgun wound to the head.”
Riemer told jurors on Feb. 13 that she believed the shot was fired from a lower angle and went through Paul’s shoulder and through his head.
That the shot to Paul was made with the shotgun to the top of his head was agreed upon by Tim Palmbach, another forensic scientist.
Palmbach went as far as suggesting that two shooters were involved in the murders.
Palmbach said he thought Paul was shot first and that he had no idea it was coming, first in the chest and then the back of the head. He said anyone in close proximity would have heard that, including Maggie.
Palmbach said things happened fairly quickly and very close together.
Palmbach says the shooter was likely stunned with biological material in their eyes, possibly injured. It would have taken time to recover from that before engaging in another meaningful assault and shooting Maggie.
“To me, it’s structurally difficult for a shooter to have two long arms, and no practical reason for that to happen,” Palmbach said. “Add that to what I believe happened to the shooter who fired first with the shotgun and I think it tips in favor of the probability of two shooters.”
Palmbach also backed up the defense’s assertation that SLED’s investigation into the shootings could have been better and said they probably missed evidence.
He did agree with earlier testimony about Paul Murdaugh having no defensive wounds.
After the defense rested its case, the state said they had four or five witnesses to call in their reply case.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said he believed they could get through the witnesses Tuesday.
Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian was skeptical about the claim, saying Waters has often underestimated the amount of time needed in the case.
“I’ll be happy, I’ll be ecstatic if it happens,” Harpootlian said.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
Monday marked the beginning of week six in the trial which was expected last three weeks.
Once the state has concluded its reply case, jurors will be taken to the Moselle property to see the crime scene.
Harpootlian suggested the trip, but also raised the issue of safety at the property stating that dozens of trespassers were on the property taking selfies in front of the feed room over the weekend. Judge Clifton Newman assured both sides that the property would be secured before the jury was allowed to travel there.
After the visit to Moselle, the jurors will begin to hear closing arguments.
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