Alex Murdaugh Admits to Taking Up to 60 Pills of Oxycodone a Day Before Murders of Wife and Son

The beleaguered attorney admitted on the stand that he had pills in his pocket when he talked to police after the murders of his wife and son in 2021

Defendant Alex Murdaugh, seated between his two layers Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, listens during his double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., Friday, Jan. 27, 2023.
Alex Murdaugh on Jan. 27, 2023. Photo: Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP

Alex Murdaugh was so addicted to opioids that he admitted to taking more than 2,000 milligrams of pain killers a day in the months before the 2021 shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.

"There were days where I took more than that," Murdaugh told South Carolina prosecutor Creighton Waters in court Friday, adding that sometimes he took "less than that."

During cross-examination, Murdaugh, 54, admitted he even had "a pocket full of pills" when he was speaking to members of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) about the murders.

Murdaugh was on the stand for a second day in his sensational murder trial.

The once-prominent attorney is accused of fatally shooting Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, on the grounds of their 1,770-acre hunting lodge in Islandton, S.C. on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two related weapons charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

murdaugh family
The Murdaugh Family.

During the trial, jurors learned that Murdaugh's wife and sons Buster, 26, and Paul, were aware of his addiction for at least several years.

Murdaugh testified that he had gone to detox in 2018. But on May 6, 2021, a month before the murders, jurors learned that Paul sent his father a text saying that he wanted to talk to him because "Mom found several bags of pills in your computer bag."

When talking about his addiction on the stand, Murdaugh said he would take "maybe 1,000 milligrams or 1,200 milligrams on a day I didn't take as much…."

He continued saying "most days were more than that and many days would be … more than 2,000 milligrams a day."

Murdaugh testified that he was taking "30-milligram pills instant-release oxycodone, probably mixed in with some OxyContin, which is made of oxycodone — it's just time release."

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Prosecutor Creighton Waters asked him if that meant he was taking 60 pills a day or so in the months between January and June 2021. Murdaugh replied that sometimes he took more than that and sometimes he took less.

Murdaugh explained that over the years he had built up a tolerance to the opioids which led him to take an increasing number of pills to feel the same effects.

He testified that the pills made whatever he was doing "more interesting."

Murdaugh Admits to Lying About His Whereabouts on the Night of the Murders

During the weeks-long trial, prosecutors have presented evidence showing Murdaugh lied about his whereabouts on the day his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were killed.

When his own defense attorneys began questioning him on the stand on Thursday, they asked him directly if he lied to law enforcement about his whereabouts on the night of the murders — and he answered that he had.

Murdaugh had initially denied being near the dog kennels that night, but early on in the trial, prosecutor Waters revealed that Paul took a cell phone video near the dog kennels on the ranch at 8:44 p.m. on the night of June 7. The video features the voices of Paul, Maggie and Murdaugh.

murdaugh family
Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh.

Sometime after that video was taken, Paul was shot in the chest and head with a shotgun at close range. Maggie was shot multiple times, including one shot in the back and additional shots while she was lying on the ground. She had been shot with 300 Blackout ammo from an AR-style rifle. Both of them were pronounced dead at the scene.

For nearly two years, Murdaugh has maintained that he hadn't been with Paul and Maggie at the family's dog kennels, where the pair was found slain, on the night they were killed. But when he took the stand on Thursday, he admitted that he had been the kennels.

"I lied about being down there, and I'm so sorry that I did," he testified on Thursday.

And although he has admitted to lying in the past, he adamantly denies killing Maggie or Paul.

"I could never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them," he said. "Not ever."

On Friday, Murdaugh testified that he went to the dog kennels on the night of June 7 reluctantly because Maggie had asked him to go down there. He said he had just taken a shower and changed and was relaxing in the air-conditioned house and didn't want to go out in the heat and get all sweaty again.

He said he drove the family's golf cart to the dog kennels, when Paul happened to take a video of a dog he was watching that captured Murdaugh's voice.

Maggie can be heard in the video — which ended at 8:46 p.m. — saying that their dog, Bubba, had a bird in his mouth.

Murdaugh said he took the bird out of the dog's mouth and left at 8:47 p.m., driving approximately 2 minutes back to the house.

murdaugh family
Alex and Maggie Murdaugh.

At 8:49 p.m. both Maggie and Paul's phone went silent and were never unlocked again, prosecutors said.

A Revenge-Seeking Killer Murdered Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh Testified

Murdaugh has said he believes Paul and Maggie were killed because of the 2019 boat crash that took the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach — when Paul was allegedly drunk behind the wheel.

Murdaugh testified that his son had received "vile threats" in the aftermath of the crash that were "so over the top."

Waters asked him if he heard anyone else at the kennels that night when he was there. Murdaugh said he "didn't hear anything at all" and that the dogs weren't acting like someone they didn't know was there.

"There was nobody else around for them to sense," he said.

He also said he didn't hear any gunshots while he was still on the property before he left for his mother's house in Almeda.

During his testimony, he frequently referred to his son and wife by the nicknames, "Mags" and "Paul Paul" or "Paw Paw."

Two days before he took the stand, his surviving son Buster testified in his defense, talking about how distraught his father was after the murders.

Even if Murdaugh is acquitted in this trial, he will have to deal with more legal woes.

He faces dozens of charges for alleged financial crimes, including misappropriating money from his law firm, defrauding clients of funds and computer crimes.

Authorities allege that he also defrauded the family of his former housekeeper out of a $4.5 million insurance settlement after she died in a mysterious slip-and-fall accident at his home. A trial for those charges will be held at a later date.

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