Alex Murdo weeps as the court shows a video of the dogs’ butts before the murders
Prosecutors in the trial of Alex Murdo began to point to a potential motive for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul, presenting for the first time on Wednesday the disgraced lawyer’s alleged financial crimes.
Judge Clifton Newman is expected to rule Thursday on whether such financial evidence can be admitted, with prosecutors stressing the importance of establishing a motive before the defense wants it thrown out.
It comes after a shocking day at the Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina, where footage cast doubt on Mr Murdo’s alibi.
Cellphone footage shot by Paul in the kennel moments before the killing revealed three voices: Paul, Maggie and a man prosecutors said was Mr. Murdo.
In dramatic testimony, two of Paul’s friends told jurors they were “100 per cent sure” the third voice belonged to Mr Murdaugh. The fired lawyer claimed he was asleep at home at the time.
A second video, sent by Paul via Snapchat an hour before the murders, also shows Mr Murdo wearing a button-down shirt and trousers, different clothing than he was wearing on police camera after the murders.
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Judge Newman dismisses the jury early and says they don’t have to appear until 11.30 tomorrow.
This allows for additional hearings on the admissibility of financial crime witness statements.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 9:03 p.m
On cross-examination, Mr. Harputlian jumps into searching the bathrooms, asking if Agent McAllister checked the drains for any signs of blood, etc. from someone who washed up after committing a crime. He says he saw nothing and confirms that no one has forensically examined the drains.
A similar question is asked about the bedrooms and the presence of any bloody clothing.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 9:02 p.m
Agent McAllister’s next job was to serve a search warrant on a Moselle Road home. They did not conduct a search because they did not want to displace about 20-25 people gathered in the house, some of whom were very sad.
After obtaining a search warrant, he searched every room in the house, including bathrooms and attic spaces.
There are no other questions from the state.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:58
New witness: Kathy McAllister, SLED
Court resumes after a midday recess and the jury is brought back.
The next witness is Special Agent Cathy McAllister, a ten-year veteran of SLED.
He responded to the Moselle Road property around lunchtime on June 8, the day after the murders. Upon arriving at the scene, he became part of the group that took Maggie Murdo’s phone.
There was a phone call to give officers the phone code. Agent McAllister gloved the phone, it took a picture, put it on airplane mode, and he entered the password to verify it was Maggie’s phone. After accepting the passcode, he immediately re-locked the phone and returned it, which was put into evidence.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:54
Mr. Harputlian claims it would have been difficult to throw the phone from the driver’s window into the roadway, so it landed approximately 15 to 20 feet from the curb, about 40 feet in total.
Mr. Hightower says he could have easily made the throw left-handed. Asked if he would throw it over his armpits, Mr. Hightower said he would do neither, but that it would fly horizontally.
In earlier testimony, there was much discussion about the orientation of the phone according to the event log. If the phone was turned out of the car window with the screen off, there would be no change in position, as the data log shows.
After locating the phone, Mr. Hightower put it on airplane mode and turned it over to SLED in an evidence bag. He didn’t have the phone’s password, so he couldn’t enter it.
It is possible to put the phone in airplane mode without unlocking it.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:38
On cross-examination, defense attorney Dick Harputlian asked if police had blocked off roads or warned people of a possible active shooter and asked about a statement from the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office saying there was no danger to the public.
Mr. Hightower says he is not aware of such a statement (as others have testified).
As for the location of Maggie’s phone, Mr. Harputlian notes that no one has measured the exact location of the phone. Mr. Hightower said he could locate the site within a few feet based on photographs of its installation.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:23
When he compared the contents of Alex Murdo’s phone with call data from Verizon, he noticed that there were only 2 FaceTime calls on that date (June 7th) compared to 73 calls in Verizon’s records.
Earlier testimony stated that only the user could delete calls from the log. On the morning of June 8, the calls started coming in again.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:09
On June 10, 2021, Mr. Hightower visited John Marvin Murdoch’s home to remove the phone contents from Alex, Buster, and Randy’s devices while they were being interviewed by SLED.
After those three extractions, the family got word that Randolph Murdo’s condition was deteriorating, and they went to the hospital.
He did a basic surface extraction of the phones (call logs, messages, pictures, videos, not necessarily location information) which takes about 30 minutes. Full extraction takes much longer.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 20:00
The morning after the murder, Mr. Hightower went to Murdo’s home after a briefing at SLED regional headquarters in Walterboro, Colleton County.
He testified that it is not uncommon to respond to crime or murder scenes.
Mr. Hightower toured the breeding grounds, which were handed over by the SLED Crime Scene Investigation Unit. He took pictures of the incident with a drone and then tried to find Maggie’s phone, only to discover that Paul’s phone was found on her body.
Using the family phone (believed to be Buster’s) Mr Hightower used Find My iPhone to search for the phone, eventually getting into his car with John Marvin Murdo and two investigators and driving off the property when they realized how much how far is it? was the device.
They eventually located the phone approximately half a mile from the property, exiting their vehicles and continuing their search on foot.
He photographed the phone about 15 to 20 feet from Moselle Road in brush and leaves. He did not touch the phone and informed the team.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 19:46
New witness: Dylan Hightower, 14th District Attorney’s Office
The next witness is Dylan Hightower, an investigator for the 14th District Attorney’s Office.
He was responsible for downloading the contents of Alex Murdo’s phone a few days after the murders.
Mr. Murdo is bound as a volunteer assistant solicitor for the 14th Circuit. Mr. Hightower worked on the trial where Mr. Murdo and his father were prosecutors.
Oliver O’Connell2 February 2023 19:28