March 1, 2023 Prosecution makes closing arguments in the Alex Murdaugh trial

By Elise Hammond and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 6:29 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023
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5:15 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Prosecution completes closing arguments

From CNN's Alta Spells


Prosecutor Creighton Waters finished his closing argument in the murder trial of Alex Murdaugh shortly before 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. 

Court is now in recess until 9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday when the defense is expected to begin its closing argument.

5:07 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

"Don't let him fool you too." Prosecutor makes a final push to the jury to convict Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh lied and fooled everyone who felt like they knew him, prosecutor Creighton Waters said Wednesday, as he made his final plea to the jury.

Murdaugh, fooled Maggie and Paul Murdaugh too, “and they paid for it with their lives," Waters said.

“Don’t let him fool you too," he told the jury as he wrapped up his closing arguments.

Waters said that everything Murdaugh did the night his wife and son was murdered was meant to deflect blame.

These included changing his clothes, attempting a “manufactured alibi” which included efforts to call Maggie and Paul's phones after they were dead, deleting call logs and not taking his phone to the scene, Waters said, summarizing many of the points he made during the trial.

“One man controlled this crime scene initially,” Waters said, pointing to Murdaugh in the courtroom.

“We couldn’t bring you any eyewitnesses because they were murdered," he added. “But common sense and human nature can speak on behalf of Maggie and Paul. When you look at this and its totality – common sense and human nature can speak for them and they deserve a voice.”
5:57 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Murdaugh not worried about threats to surviving son because "he knows the only threat is him," prosecutor says

Buster Murdaugh listens during closing arguments on Wednesday, March1.
Buster Murdaugh listens during closing arguments on Wednesday, March1. (Joshua Boucher/Pool//The State/AP)

Alex Murdaugh was not worried about his surviving son, Buster, after the murder of his family because he was "the only threat," prosecutor Creighton Waters said during his closing argument.

Waters said some of Murdaugh's law partners testified he was "not overly concerned" about figuring out what happened to his wife, Maggie, or son, Paul, or about any possible threats to Buster.

He said in one police interview, law enforcement directly asked Murdaugh if there were any threats to Buster, to which he replied "no."

“Why is there no threat to Buster? Because he was the threat to Maggie and Paul. He knows there is no vigilante out there, that’s why he was never concerned about it," Waters said.

“He knows the only threat is him,” he said pointing to Murdaugh

When asked about what he did after he was heard at the kennel in a video on Paul's phone, Murdaugh said "I got out of there," according to Waters.

“He didn’t say, ‘if only I had been there. If only I had gone to the kennels. If only I could have stopped it. If only I had been there a little longer,'" Waters said.

Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong characterization of the question posed to Murdaugh about the kennel video. 

4:54 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Maggie Murdaugh was "running to her baby" when she was shot, prosecutor says

From CNN’s Macie Goldfarb and Alta Spells

State prosecutor Creighton Waters speaks during the closing arguments.
State prosecutor Creighton Waters speaks during the closing arguments. (Pool)

State prosecutor Creighton Waters, describing what he said was the scene when Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were fatally shot, said Maggie Murdaugh saw what happened to Paul and came "running to her baby.” 

“Probably the last thing on her mind thinking that it was him (Alex Murdaugh) who had done this. She’s running to her baby while he’s gotten, picked up a Blackout (rifle) and opens fire at close range, again with no defensive wounds," Waters said.

With those first two shots, Maggie crumples over, and is shot a third time, the bullet goes through the left side of her head, Waters said. Maggie is then shot for a fourth time in the back of the head, he said.

He asked the jury if that was malice — the intentional harm to another with evil intent — then answered his own question. 

“Clearly it’s malicious, clearly it’s malicious. She was running to her baby — heard that shot and was running to her baby when she got mowed down by the only person that we have conclusive proof was at that scene just minutes before and who lied about that very fact until he could no longer do it to you last week," Waters said.

4:26 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Murdaugh "lies convincingly and easily" and tried to manufacture alibi on night of murders, prosecutor says

Alex Murdaugh listens as prosecutor Creighton Waters makes closing arguments on Wednesday, March 1.
Alex Murdaugh listens as prosecutor Creighton Waters makes closing arguments on Wednesday, March 1. (Joshua Boucher/The State/AP)

Prosecutor Creighton Waters argued to the jury that Alex Murdaugh was "manufacturing an alibi" by calling and texting his wife and son, among others, after they were killed.

Waters said Murdaugh was unable to answer important questions, such as the nature of his last conversation with his family and what he was doing during certain time periods that night.

Around 9:45 p.m., Murdaugh calls Maggie's phone again, Waters said. During his testimony, Murdaugh told a detailed story about his phone falling into the console of the car during this time period.

"Is that true ladies and gentlemen?" Waters asked. "Or is he coming up with some details on the fly when he can't remember more important things like what was the last conversation you had with your wife and child when you jetted down to the kennels and back? What did y'all talk about at dinner? What were you doing from 9:02 to 9:06? Those are questions that he doesn't want to answer."

Waters also pointed to data to show that Murdaugh was driving faster than usual to his mother's house in Almeda and was making calls the entire trip.

“Because he knows he has to compress that timeline," Waters said.

Waters said any "reasonable person" would remember the last conversation they had with their loved one if they were killed, but argued that Murdaugh "lies convincingly and easily and he can do it as a drop of a hat."

“He's manufacturing an alibi. He’s smart," Waters said.

The prosecutor also noted to the jury the kinds of questions Murdaugh asked law enforcement after the murders. He said one of the first things Murdaugh did was point out to police how many phone calls he made that night.

“He knows what to do to try to prevent evidence from being gathered. If you listen to his statements again and you listen to the questions he asked, he's asking questions like that, he's trying to figure out what do the police have, what do they know," Waters said.

4:47 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Kennel video "changed everything" and gave Murdaugh opportunity to commit crime, prosecutor says

The video taken by Paul Murdaugh at the family's dog kennels before he was killed "changed everything" in the case, prosecutor Creighton Waters said, arguing that Alex Murdaugh had the opportunity to kill his son and wife.

Murdaugh admitted that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the night that his wife Maggie and son Paul died in June 2021.

The former lawyer acknowledged his voice can be heard in a video that appeared to be filmed at the kennels, where the bodies of his wife and son were found. Prosecutors have used the video to place Murdaugh at the scene of the killings, contradicting his previous repeated statements to law enforcement that he had not been there that night.

Numerous witnesses had testified Murdaugh's voice is in the background of the video recorded by his son at 8:44 p.m. ET on June 7, 2021.

The video shows opportunity, Waters said in his closing argument Wednesday, “being at the scene of the crime when the murders occurred.”

“[It] more importantly [is] exposing the defendant's lies about the most important thing he could have told law enforcement — 'when was the last time I saw my wife and child alive?’ Why in the world would an innocent, reasonable father and husband lie about that and lie about it so early? He didn’t know that [video] was there," Waters said.

CNN's Emma Tucker contributed reporting to this post.

Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong description of a video taken at the Murdaugh family's dog kennels.

2:53 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

CNN is hosting a primetime special on the Murdaugh trial tonight at 9 p.m. ET 

From CNN staff

Defense and prosecution analysts and trial veterans from some of America’s most high-profile criminal cases will discuss the Alex Murdaugh trial in a CNN primetime special Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.

The experts have examined the evidence and witness testimony presented in the double murder trial.

The special will be hosted by CNN anchor and senior legal analyst Laura Coates, a former Department of Justice attorney who worked in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

3:02 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Family weapons were used to kill the victims in the Murdaugh case, prosecutor says

Prosecutor Creighton Waters speaks during closing arguments on Wednesday, March 1.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters speaks during closing arguments on Wednesday, March 1. (Joshua Boucher/The State/AP)

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters, resuming his closing argument Wednesday afternoon, said "family weapons" were used to commit the double murders on the Murdaugh estate.

Waters said that the "forensic evidence" that was presented as evidence during the trial supports this theory.

He pointed to testimony from a weapons expert that said that casings for bullets from a Blackout rifle that were discovered near the body of Alex Murdaugh's wife Maggie matched casings found on other parts of the family's property by investigators.

Waters noted that this weapon went missing and Murdaugh cannot account for it.

"A family Blackout killed Maggie. It was present just a couple months prior to the murders and it's gone now. A family weapon the defendant cannot account for killed Maggie."

Paul Murdaugh was killed by shots from one of his "favorite guns," Waters said.

The prosecutor said that investigators determined that two fired shells that killed Paul had "class characteristics" that were similar to a 12-gauge shotgun that the Murdaugh son favored.

He added that Alex Murdaugh had this shotgun with him on the night of the killings and that "Maggie's DNA and blood" were found on the receiver of the gun.

The presence of the family weapons and their links to the deaths, Waters said, show "the defendant had the means to commit these crimes."

2:32 p.m. ET, March 1, 2023

Court is back in session

The court has resumed after lunch. Prosecutor Creighton Waters is delivering the state's closing argument.