Alex Murdaugh is expected to return to the witness box Friday to continue a grueling cross-examination at his double murder trial that has so far focused on his alleged financial crimes.
Murdaugh, 54, spent all of Thursday on the stand in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.
After court broke for the day, Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters told Judge Clifton Newman that the rest of his cross would take three to four hours.
Defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian said he had two defense experts he'd like to call Friday, including a crime scene analyst.
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But Waters insisted on finishing his cross before the witnesses can testify.
Murdaugh testified in his own defense Thursday denying that he fatally shot his 22-year-old son, Paul, and his wife, 52, in June 2021 on the family's 1,700-acre hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina.
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On cross-examination, Waters spent most of his time grilling Murdaugh about the millions he swindled from his clients to fund a lavish lifestyle rather than the slayings of his wife and son.
"You had to sit down and look somebody in the eye and convince them that you were on their side when you were not?" Waters asked, referring to the vulnerable clients Murdaugh ripped off. "That’s what you did in every single one of these [cases]?"
Murdaugh repeatedly acknowledged his cons, but Waters insisted on walking him through the most egregious examples, including stealing from a teen girl and a quadriplegic man.
Harpootlian even quipped, in court, "I could have sworn this is a murder case but for two-and-a-half hours I haven’t heard the word murder."
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Murdaugh is accused of more than 90 financial crimes in unrelated indictments for allegedly stealing nearly $9 million from his law firm and his clients.
He's also facing a wrongful death lawsuit over a 2019 boat crash. Paul was driving the vessel when he drunkenly smashed into a bridge, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach and injuring four other friends.
Waters questioned Murdaugh extensively about the case.
Newman ruled that prosecutors could introduce evidence of the financial crimes and the boat crash at trial to bolster the state's theory of motive.
Waters has argued that Murdaugh executed his son and wife to prevent his decade-long frauds from coming to light.
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On direct examination, Murdaugh frequently broke into sobs as he described finding Maggie and Paul near the dog kennels at the estate known as Moselle.
"It was so bad," he said. "I could see his brain laying on the sidewalk," he said of his son.
He started weeping, and his head bobbed up and down. The disgraced attorney took off his glasses to wipe tears from his eyes with a white tissue.
Paul's brain was by his feet, most of his skull was missing and only his face remained, previous witnesses testified.
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Murdaugh denied shooting his wife or son but admitted he repeatedly lied to investigators.
In three separate videotaped interviews with agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Murdaugh claimed he was never at the dog kennel the night of the slayings. He made this same assertion to several friends and family members.
Murdaugh's voice, however, was captured on a cellphone video that Paul recorded at 8:44 p.m.
Investigators only discovered the video months later when they hacked into Paul's iPhone. The explosive piece of evidence undermined Murdaugh's alibi and may have played a major role in his decision to take the stand.
Murdaugh admitted Thursday that he was at the dog kennels at 8:45 p.m. on June 7, about four minutes before prosecutors allege Maggie and Paul were shot to death.
Griffin asked why he lied, and Murdaugh blamed his addiction to prescription painkillers.
"I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't think I was capable of reason," he said, dissolving into tears. "And I lied about being out there, and I'm so sorry that I did. I'm sorry."