Alex Murdo cries as the court shows video of dog kennels before murders
Prosecutors in the trial of Alex Murdo began pointing to a potential motive for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul, raising the disgraced lawyer’s alleged financial crimes for the first time on Wednesday.
Judge Clifton Newman is expected to rule Thursday on whether or not such financial evidence can be admitted — with prosecutors stressing the importance of establishing motive, while the defense wants it thrown out.
It comes after a stunning day at the Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina, where footage cast doubt on Mr Murdo’s alibi.
Cellphone footage taken by Paul at the dog kennel just minutes before the murders reveals three voices – Paul, Maggie and a man prosecutors say is Mr. Murdo.
In dramatic testimony, two of Paul’s friends told jurors they were “100 per cent sure” the third voice belonged to Mr Murdo. The disbarred lawyer claimed he was sleeping at home at the time.
A second video sent via Snapchat by Paul an hour before the murders also showed Mr Murdo wearing a button-down shirt and trousers – a different outfit to what he was wearing on a police body camera after the murders.
Watch the process live The IndependentYouTube channel of
Law firm’s CFO recalls Murdo’s ‘dirty look’ as he confronted him about missing money
Alex Murdo’s former law firm partner has recalled how he gave her a “dirty look” when she confronted him about missing payments worth a staggering $792,000 on the day his wife and son were killed.
Jeanne Seckinger, chief financial officer of Mr. Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, testified in Colleton County Circuit Court in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday during the trial for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.
She told the court how she discovered the 54-year-old, now disbarred, had been embezzling millions of dollars from his legal clients – by funneling money into bogus businesses and into his own personal accounts.
Rachel Sharp there are details.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 6:55 pm
The damning Snapchat video shows Murdo wearing different clothes before the murders
During Wednesday’s high-profile murder trial, jurors at the Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina were shown a Snapchat video taken by Mr. Murdo’s son Paul at 7:56 p.m. on the night of June 7, 2021 .
The video, sent to Paul’s friend Will Loving, shows Mr Murdo in the grounds of the family estate, looking at a small tree that falls limply to the ground.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 6:35 p.m
Court recess for lunch
Judge Newman asks prosecutor Creighton Waters what’s next.
Mr. Waters said there were more witnesses on the financial side of the motive argument – Mr. Murdo’s paralegal, Michael Gunn, director of Forge Consulting; and Murdough’s lawyer and friend Chris Wilson – willing to testify without the jury present.
Defense lawyer Jim Griffin argued Ms. Seckinger’s testimony showed those financial crimes were not admissible in the murder case and said allowing that line of evidence would add more than two weeks to the trial.
Mr. Waters says he can rationalize the state’s case on financial crimes, saying: “The state’s intention is not to look at a hundred white-collar cases in the context of this murder case.”
The State argued that it was important to establish what was going on in Mr Murdo’s life prior to June 7, 2021.
Saying he did not want the jury to sit idle, Judge Newman said the prosecution could call witnesses unrelated to the financial crimes in the afternoon with the jury present.
The financial crimes hearing will continue later today or tomorrow without a jury.
Court recess for lunch and will return at 2:15 p.m.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 6:15 p.m
There is a quick redirect from the prosecution in which Ms. Seckinger confirms that there is no reason or possible legitimate explanation for the client case proceeds to have gone into the bank accounts they did.
Ms Seckinger says there have been no complaints of missing money and so nothing has been flagged for investigation.
In her cross-examination, referring to the customers, she said: We interviewed the customers. Most of them we met. Most of them said they were surprised and shocked and said they had no idea they had been stolen.
The redirect ends and the witness is excused.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 5:56 p.m
Mr. Griffin seems to be trying to point out that the firm had all the information and documentation about the fraud years ago but ignored it.
Ms. Seckinger says, “They were. They didn’t come to our attention before.”
The defensive tactic appears to be to poke holes in the way the firm, led by Ms. Seckinger, began investigating the fraud after it was discovered.
She responds firmly and coolly when challenged on the details of some of the specific cases. Asked whether in all but one case the proceeds of the cases should have gone to the client, Ms. Seckinger said: “What your client stole, yes.”
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 5:46 p.m
Court resumes and cross-examination begins
Ms. Sekinger’s cross-examination began with questioning by attorney Jim Griffin.
His line of questioning or clarification has so far elicited only confirmations from Ms. Seckinger about the answers in her previous direct examination.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 5:22 pm
After an extensive list of examples of deception, the State concludes its cross-examination of Ms. Seckinger.
Before cross-examination by the defense, Judge Newman called a 10-minute recess.
Reminder: The jury is out on this collection of detailed financial crimes uncovered by Mr. Murdo’s former employer.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 4:56 p.m
Watch: Law firm’s CFO explains how she confronted Murdo over missing money the day of the murder
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 4:45 p.m
This happened to numerous clients over the years and the firm had to benefit from the money Mr. Murdough diverted to himself through the fake Forge account.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 4:39 p.m
More strange payments were found going to Palmetto State Bank, which appeared to hold customer funds. These checks were then transferred to Mr. Murdaugh.
Former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Lafitte has been since pleaded guilty to bank and wire fraud charges. Laffitte loaned money to Mr. Murdaugh and himself from these client settlements, diverting that money from personal injury or death cases, several of which he was appointed as a court-appointed trustee of funds for minor clients.
Mr. Murdo also reduced his fees so that more money would be available to the client to then steal through the fake Forge account. By reducing his fee, less payment will go to the firm and more will go to the client and remain his.
Oliver O’ConnellFebruary 2, 2023 4:35 pm