On the third day of the murder trial of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, prosecutors showed the court video of Murdaugh’s first interview with authorities after his wife and son were found killed.
In the interview, which had not been released publicly previously, Murdaugh described arriving at the scene where he could see the two bodies and told investigator he could see things were “bad” when he first pulled up to the home.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime related to the deaths of his wife, Margaret, and son, Paul, who was 22 at the time of the June 7, 2021 crime. Opening statements for Murdaugh’s murder trial began earlier this week and is now in recess for the weekend, with the prosecution’s ninth witness still on the stand.
In the interview played in court on Friday, Murdaugh told investigators he had left home that night to go check on his mother, who is a late-stage Alzheimer’s patient.
Murdaugh said that after arriving and seeing the bodies, he tried to turn his son’s body over and then went over to his wife. He told investigators he touched both of them to try and take their pulse, adding he “tried to do it as limited as possible,” according to the video recording.
He said there was blood around his son’s body but that he didn’t see anything else around other than Paul’s cellphone. Murdaugh broke down several times during the interview.
Murdaugh said he called 911 and later his brothers and a good friend.
Colleton County, South Carolina, Sheriff’s Office Det. Laura Rutland, who was among the officers who interviewed Murdaugh hours after the bodies were found, testified on Friday she did not see footprints or knee prints in the blood near Paul’s body.
She also testified that she had seen Murdaugh’s hands and shirt that night and he was “clean,” telling the court she did not see any blood on him.
What Murdaugh said in the interview
In the video recording played in court, Murdaugh was asked by another law enforcement officer if there had been any problems and Murdaugh responded,”Nothing that I know of,” but added there had been negative publicity following a boat accident that Paul, his son, was involved in.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and causing death in connection to a 2019 boat crash that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, court records show.
Alex Murdaugh said in the recording there had been some “vile stuff’ online directed at his son and that Paul had been “punched and hit and just attacked a lot,” but acknowledge he had not witnessed those incidents.
Murdaugh then went on to allude about a man he recently had hired who Murdaugh said had allegedly shared a “freaky” story with Paul about getting drafted on an undercover team to “kill radical Black Panthers.”
“I really do not think that in all honesty that it’s him, but I think you oughta check it out,” Murdaugh continued, according to the recording.
Murdaugh also told investigators he owned about 20 or 25 guns.
During cross examination, defense attorney Jim Griffin questioned Rutland about how another agent collected the clothing that Murdaugh was wearing that night and asked her if she had followed proper protocol, seeming to question the integrity of the investigation.
Griffin also asked Rutland about notes in her report that night which said Murdaugh’s wife appeared to have strands of brown hair in her hands and fingers and that Paul appeared to have scratches on his face. Rutland told the court she noted what she observed.
The prosecution also called as their eighth witness another agent, who testified she collected samples from the two bodies and a ninth witness, also an agent, who is expected to resume testimony on Monday morning.