Prosecutors end rebuttal after calling six witnesses
State prosecutors put their rebuttal brief on hold Tuesday after calling six witnesses to contradict parts of Alex Murdaugh’s defense as the disgraced lawyer’s double murder trial neared its conclusion.
Kenneth Kinsey, a forensic expert at the crime scene, was the final rebuttal witness and criticized the methodology of a defense expert who said the shooter must have been between 5ft 2in and 5ft 4in tall . (Alex Murdaugh is 6-foot-4.) Kinsey said there were too many variables to determine the shooter’s height with certainty, calling the analysis “unscientific.”
Kinsey also criticized another defense expert’s theory that there were two shooters, saying the analysis that led to the decision was “absurd”. He was interviewed by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, the first time he interviewed a witness in the case.
Other rebuttal witnesses included two attorneys who worked with Murdaugh, a local sheriff and the pathologist who performed the autopsies.
On Wednesday morning, the jury will visit Murdaugh’s sprawling property in Islandton known as Moselle, where the bodies of Murdaugh’s wife Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and son Paul Murdaugh were found on June 7, 2021.
Closing arguments will follow later.
The rebuttal comes more than a month after the start of the murder trial of Murdaugh, the 54-year-old disbarred attorney and member of a dynastic family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, where his father, grandfather and his great-grandfather were successively the local prosecutor. from 1920 to 2006.
The prosecution closed its case two weeks ago after calling 61 witnesses, and the defense closed its case on Monday after the testimony of 14 witnesses.
The most important witness was Murdaugh himself. Under oath, he admitted lying to police about his whereabouts on the night of the murders and that he had in fact gone to the kennel, near where his wife and son were found dead , shortly before the murders. He blamed his lies on “paranoid thinking” stemming from his addiction to painkillers.
“I don’t think I was able to reason, and I lied about being there, and I’m so sorry I did,” Murdaugh said.
Prosecutors argued he killed his wife and son to gain sympathy and distract from allegations of financial misconduct that the state said were about to come to light before the fatal shooting. . Murdaugh admitted to defrauding his legal partners and clients for a decade – but denied killing his family.
“If I was under the pressure they’re talking about here, I can promise you I’d hurt myself before I hurt any of them, no doubt,” Murdaugh said on the stand Friday.
He pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges in the murders. He separately faces 99 counts related to alleged financial crimes which will be tried later.
Six people testified as rebuttal witnesses on Tuesday to fend off some defense witnesses.
Ronnie Crosby, a lawyer who worked with Murdaugh and testified for the prosecution three weeks ago, explained what Murdaugh looked like in court.
“He was a theatrical type presence in the courtroom and he could get very emotional during closing arguments before a jury,” Crosby said Tuesday.
Dr Ellen Riemer, a pathologist who performed autopsies on Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, returned to the stand to reject a defense expert’s claim that Paul died of a gunshot wound. head hunting.
She reiterated her conclusion that Paul died of a left shoulder blast that entered his neck and exited his skull.
The death method is relevant to the two strike theory of defense. A defense crime scene expert claimed on Monday that contact with a shotgun wound to the head caused the skull to explode violently, which would have temporarily knocked out or even injured the shooter. The expert said it was unlikely the same shooter could have recovered and killed Maggie in such a short time.
Thomas C. Smalls, who until recently served as Hampton County Sheriff, testified Tuesday that he never had a discussion with Murdaugh about installing blue police lights in Murdaugh’s personal vehicle.
The testimony contradicts Murdaugh’s claim last week that he got permission from Smalls to install blue lights in his vehicle. The prosecution used the blue lights to try to show that Murdaugh used his connections with the police to his advantage.
On cross-examination, Smalls said he didn’t know if anyone else in his department might have approved of the lights and said he had no idea Murdaugh had blue lights in his room. his vehicle.
Smalls also said Murdaugh had not reported any threats related to the boat affair, in which a 19-year-old woman was killed when a boat driven by Paul Murdaugh crashed. Murdaugh testified that he believed the murders of his wife and son were somehow related to the threats the family received in this case.
Find out how prosecutors grilled Alex Murdaugh on the last day of cross-examination
In their case, prosecutors sought to poke holes in Murdaugh’s account of the night of the murders, using cellphone data, videos and other evidence to suggest he had attempted to fabricate an alibi.
With no direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the murders – no murder weapon, bloody clothing or eyewitnesses – the main arguments in his trial revolved around the timeline of events and Murdaugh’s whereabouts in the night of June 7, 2021.
In particular, prosecutors used video filmed at the kennels shortly before authorities said the murders took place to show that Murdaugh was at the scene minutes before the fatal shooting. Several witnesses testified that Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of the video, which was filmed on Paul’s phone beginning at 8:44 p.m. In his testimony, Murdaugh admitted that he was indeed there and that he lied about it.
Murdaugh testified last week that he went down to the kennel at Maggie’s request, but then returned home and lay down on a couch. When he got up, he said, he drove to visit his ailing mother at her home in nearby Almeda, before returning home later that night. According to police, he called 911 at 10:07 p.m. to report that he had found the bodies.
The defense has described Murdaugh as a loving father and husband wrongly accused of the murders after what they say was a mishandled investigation and crime scene.
Among the witnesses called by Murdaugh’s lawyers were his former legal partner who said the scene was not properly secured, and a forensic expert who said his analysis suggested two shooters carried out the killings.
The defense further attempted to establish that Maggie and Paul’s time of death could have fallen within a much longer window of time than presented by prosecutors.
Last week, Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said he estimated the time of death at around 9 p.m. – just minutes after Murdaugh’s voice was captured on video – in part on the basis of armpit checks he had done to feel how hot the bodies were.
However, when asked by the defense if the pair could have been shot anytime between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., Harvey said yes.
A medical examiner, Jonathan Eisenstat, testified on Monday that armpit temperature checks are “simply not a valid method of trying to determine time of death”, calling the technique “just a guess”.
If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – at email@example.com The content will be deleted within 24 hours.