WALTERBORO, S.C. – Alex Murdaugh’s defense lawyer Jim Griffin told jurors Thursday in summations that investigators “failed miserably” in their probe and accused them of “fabricating evidence” against the defendant.
“We believe SLED [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] failed miserably investigating this case and had they done a competent job, Alex would have been excluded from that circle a year ago, two years ago,” he said.
Griffin argued that SLED immediately zeroed in on Murdaugh, 54, without considering other suspects.
He then walked jurors through each misstep in the investigation.
Murdaugh is accused of gunning down his 22-year-old son, Paul, and his wife Maggie, 52, near the dog kennels on the family’s hunting estate known as Moselle on June 7, 2021.
Maggie had strands of hair in her hand that were never tested, footwear impressions at the crime scene weren’t preserved and DNA samples were never taken from the victims’ clothes, Griffin said.
As the investigation progressed, “they began fabricating evidence” against Murdaugh, Griffin said, A report from a state blood-spatter expert, which was never introduced at trial, concluded that there was high velocity blood spatter on Murdaugh’s T-shirt. But it was later revealed that the shirt tested negative for blood.
The Walterboro, South Carolina, trial has now stretched into its sixth week with more than 70 witnesses taking the stand, including Murdaugh.
A female juror was kicked off the panel Thursday after the court learned that she had conversations with at least three people about the case and had shared her opinion of the evidence that had been presented in violation of the judge’s explicit instructions.
In a rare moment of levity in the trial, the dismissed juror requested a dozen eggs, her purse, and a bottle of water that had been left in the jury room.
“We’ve got a lot of interesting things but now a dozen eggs,” the judge said with a smile, eliciting laughter from the courtroom.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters delivered a marathon three-hour closing argument Wednesday casting the defendant as a master manipulator who killed his wife and son to stave off a devastating financial reckoning.
Murdaugh is charged with stealing nearly $9 million from clients and his former firm, and admitted to the bulk of the thefts when he testified.
Waters told jurors that Murdaugh was a cunning conman who tried to deceive them when he took the stand last week.
“This is a man who made his trade on lying. He lied about the most important facts in the case and effortlessly and easily pivoted to a new lie when confronted by something he wasn’t prepared for,” said Waters of Murdaugh’s testimony.
Murdaugh, he added, deceived the people who thought they were closest to him.
“He fooled Maggie and Paul, too, and they paid for it with their lives,” Waters told the jury. “Don’t let him fool you too.”