Jurors returned to the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday morning after hearing lengthy testimony the day before before as prosecutors continued their case against attorney Alex Murdaugh over the double murder of his wife and son at the family’s hunting lodge in June 2021.
The 54-year-old disgraced legal scion – disbarred soon after the murder allegations and various alleged financial improprieties came to light – is accused of shooting and killing his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their youngest son Paul Murdaugh, 22.
On Thursday morning, jurors first heard from Alex Murdaugh’s “best friend,” Bamberg, South Carolina-based attorney Chris Wilson. The state’s witness previously testified during a side hearing on financial crimes evidence against the defendant – outside of jurors’ ears. Such evidence was broadly allowed to be presented by the state at the beginning of the week by Judge Clifton Newman.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Jim Griffin largely quizzed Wilson on how the defendant seemed on the night his family was murdered by two different kinds of guns. That testimony was largely in service of the defense’s overriding argument that Alex Murdaugh was a committed family man who had no reason to – and simply could not – murder Maggie and Paul Murdaugh in such a brutal fashion.
An interesting moment unfolded late Thursday afternoon with a defense objection overruled by the court.
Prior to testimony from state witness and attorney Mark Tinsley, the defense revealed and complained that the witness had recently donated to the GoFundMe for a previous state witness, Mushelle “Shelley” Smith, the home health care aide who was looking after Alex Murdaugh’s mother on the night of the slayings.
That donation was originally made in Tinsley’s name, but later marked as “anonymous.” Failing to state a legal basis for the objection, defense attorney Phillip Barber said it was a case of “first impression.”
Tinley is well-known to longtime fans of the Murdaugh murders scandal in South Carolina’s Lowcountry region.
At the time of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh’s deaths, Tinsley was suing multiple members of the Murdaugh family over the 2019 drunken boat crash that took the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Paul Murdaugh was heavily intoxicated and piloting that boat – after allegedly obtaining booze by using his older brother’s identification. Beach’s family recently reached a settlement with the defendant’s oldest son, Buster Murdaugh, in that wrongful death lawsuit.
In the end, Judge Newman declined to strike Tinsley’s testimony and said it “sounds like good fodder for cross examination.”
The latest overruled objection was just one of many in a trial rife to the brim with the court deciding against the defense.
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