Alex Murdaugh Cries on the Stand During Testimony: 'I Did Not Shoot My Wife and Son'

The disgraced South Carolina lawyer admits to lying to police, but insists that he did not harm his family

Alex Murdaugh is finally having his day in court.

The disgraced South Carolina attorney took the stand on Thursday morning to address the allegations that he shot and killed his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul in June of 2021.

The defense began by asking Murdaugh if he used any gun to "blow his son's brain out," or to shoot his wife, Maggie. Murdaugh answered emphatically, "I did not shoot my wife or my son," and denied killing them multiple times while on the stand.

As the testimony continued, Murdaugh's voice began to shake as he blinked back tears.

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

He then explained that his nickname for his son Paul was "Paul Paul" or "Pau Terry" and said that many people referred to Paul — who was 22 when he was killed — by that name.

"You couldn't be around Paul Paul without having fun," Murdaugh said between tears. "He was an absolute delight."

The defense also asked Murdaugh if he had been truthful with investigators about his whereabouts on the day his wife and son were killed. "No," he answered. I lied."

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. Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP

"Why did you lie?" the defense asked.

"As my addiction evolved over time I would get in these situations or circumstances where I would get paranoid," Murdaugh replied. "I'm sorry I lied."

Murdaugh also apologized to his surviving son Buster — who was in the courtroom during his testimony — and additional family members for lying about the last time he saw Maggie and Paul.

"What a tangled web we weave," Murdaugh said on the stand. "Once I told a lie — then I told my family — I had to keep lying."

On June 7, 2021, Maggie and Paul were shot to death at their residence in Islandton, S.C. near the dog kennels on their property.

Murdaugh had initially denied being near the dog kennels that night, but early on in the trial, prosecutor Creighton 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.

Thursday marks the first time Murdaugh has admitted to being near the dog kennels that evening, but he still denies being responsible for the killings.

murdaugh family
Maggie, Paul and Alex Murdaugh.

Murdaugh, 54, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two related weapons charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to the prosecution, 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.

Even if Murdaugh is acquitted in this trial, he will have 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.

Once a prominent attorney in South Carolina, Murdaugh has been disbarred from practicing law.

He is expected to testify for most of Thursday.

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