Two witnesses within the homicide trial of Alex Murdaugh instructed the court docket Wednesday they’re “100%” sure that Murdaugh’s voice is on footage prosecutors say undermines the disgraced former South Carolina legal professional’s declare he was not on the scene of the killings when his spouse Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul had been fatally shot.
The video, simply wanting a minute lengthy, was filmed on Paul’s cellphone beginning at 8:44 p.m. the night time of the killings in 2021, in accordance with Lt. David Britton Dove, a supervisor within the pc crimes middle on the South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division who extracted forensic information from the telephones of Murdaugh, his son and his spouse.
Three totally different voices may very well be heard within the footage, Dove testified Wednesday, saying the video appeared to have been recorded within the space of the Murdaugh household’s kennels. And whereas Dove didn’t personally know the voices, he stated, “You possibly can inform that they’re totally different voices.”
Prosecutors consider a type of voices – the one different on the video moreover the victims’ – belongs to Alex Murdaugh, putting him on the scene on the time of the murders. And whereas Murdaugh maintained in interviews with legislation enforcement he was not there, two witnesses Wednesday backed up prosecutors’ declare.
Rogan Gibson, who stated he was a detailed buddy of Paul’s and the Murdaughs had been like a second household to him, instructed investigators shortly after the killings he was 99% certain he heard Alex Murdaugh’s voice within the background of a cellphone name he had with Paul at 8:40 that night time. When he was proven the video final November, he instructed investigators he was 100% certain it was Murdaugh’s voice within the background of the footage – an assertion he repeated in court docket Wednesday.
When requested by state prosecutor Creighton Waters if he acknowledged Alex’s voice, Gibson stated, “Sure, sir.”
“100%?” requested Waters. “Sure, sir” replied Gibson.
Will Loving, one other witness who was Paul’s buddy, additionally testified he was “100%” certain it was Alex’s voice on the video.
Prosecutors have indicated mobile phone proof is essential of their case in opposition to Murdaugh, who has pleaded not responsible to 2 counts of homicide and two counts of possession of a weapon throughout the fee of a violent crime within the killings of his spouse Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and his 22-year-old son Paul on June 7, 2021.
Murdaugh known as 911 the night time of the killings to report he’d discovered his spouse and son shot lifeless on the household’s dwelling in Islandton, South Carolina – a property generally known as Moselle.
However prosecutors accuse Murdaugh of committing the murders to distract consideration from a sequence of alleged illicit schemes he was working to keep away from “private authorized and monetary damage,” per court docket filings. Separate from the homicide costs, Murdaugh additionally faces 99 costs stemming from alleged monetary crimes, per the state legal professional common.
Proof will present, the state has claimed, that Murdaugh’s alleged monetary crimes had been “about to return to gentle” when his spouse and son had been killed.
Gibson knew the Murdaughs virtually his complete life, he stated. He testified it was Alex Murdaugh’s voice that may very well be heard within the video calling for the household’s yellow lab, Bubba, to drop a rooster from his mouth.
Paul Murdaugh known as Gibson the night time of the capturing, at 8:40 p.m., to ask if one thing was fallacious with Gibson’s canine, Money, which was in a kennel on the Murdaugh property. The 2 tried to carry a video name in order that Gibson may see the canine, however the reception was not ok, Gibson testified.
Paul instructed him he would take a video of the canine and ship it to him if the FaceTime name didn’t work, Gibson stated, however he by no means acquired the footage. Gibson tried to name and textual content Paul after the failed video name, he stated, however his buddy by no means responded.
Prosecutor Waters of the South Carolina Legal professional Basic’s Workplace – which is prosecuting the case because of the Murdaugh household’s decades-old ties with the native solicitor’s workplace – teased the video in his opening assertion final week, saying that whereas Alex claimed to investigators he was napping on the home, video proof would present he was current on the household’s kennels, the place the our bodies of his son and spouse had been discovered.
“You’ll see that video and also you’ll hear from witnesses that establish Paul’s voice, Maggie’s voice and Alex’s voice,” Waters stated, telling the court docket Paul was filming a canine that belonged to his buddy as a result of they had been involved in regards to the animal’s tail. Murdaugh “instructed anybody who would hear he was by no means there … The proof will present that he was there. He was on the homicide scene with the 2 victims” minutes earlier than Paul’s cellphone “locks endlessly.”
In his personal opening assertion, protection legal professional Dick Harpootlian stated the audio from the video obtained by the prosecution would merely present Murdaugh and his spouse having a “regular dialogue” with “no animosity.” Paul is “very completely satisfied,” Harpootlian claimed. “No person’s down there threatening him. Daddy just isn’t pulling out a shotgun and killing him.”
Throughout cross examination by the protection Wednesday, Gibson stated Alex and Paul Murdaugh had an ideal relationship, and spoke about Alex as an affectionate and loving father who was concerned along with his sons. Alex was like a second father to him, Gibson stated.
Murdaugh cried rather a lot and “was simply actual distraught, unhappy, simply tore up” in regards to the deaths, Gibson testified.
“Are you able to consider any circumstance which you could envision, realizing them as you do, the place Alex would brutally homicide Paul and Maggie?” protection legal professional Jim Griffin requested.
“Not that I can consider,” Gibson answered.
The protection legal professional additionally questioned Gibson in regards to the sheds, workshops and automobiles ceaselessly being left unlocked on the Murdaugh property, and weapons typically left unprotected or simply laying round. Gibson conceded it might be straightforward for somebody to sneak on the property and steal one thing. On redirect from the prosecution, Gibson acknowledged he had by no means heard Paul complain about folks doing that.
In his testimony Tuesday, Dove, the fifteenth witness known as by the prosecution, detailed the communications of Maggie’s cellphone the night time of the killings, together with a textual content from Alex at 9:47 p.m. that learn, “Name me babe.” It was by no means learn.
In his opening assertion final week, Waters instructed the jury Murdaugh repeatedly known as his spouse that night earlier than texting her that he was going to go to his mom and driving to Almeda, South Carolina.
“It’s as much as you,” Waters stated, “to determine whether or not or not he’s making an attempt to fabricate an alibi.”
In response to Dove’s testimony Tuesday, the night time she was killed, Maggie learn two textual content messages – at 8:31 p.m. and eight:49 p.m. – in a bunch chat with household about Murdaugh’s father, who was in ailing well being, seconds earlier than her cellphone locked for the ultimate time.
The show of Maggie’s cellphone turned off minutes later, at 8:53 p.m. At 8:54 p.m., the orientation modified to panorama and the digital camera activated – a sign, Dove stated, the cellphone was moved and the digital camera tried to find Maggie’s face in an unsuccessful try to unlock.
Maggie’s cellphone confirmed repeated missed calls from her husband over the course of the subsequent hour, Dove testified, together with proof it had switched to portrait mode. That, the knowledgeable stated, was one other indication the cellphone was possible held in somebody’s hand. A last name from Murdaugh was missed simply earlier than 10:04 p.m.
However these calls seemed to be lacking from Murdaugh’s cellphone, Dove stated Wednesday, testifying that decision logs present a spot in calls between June 4 and 10:25 p.m. the night time of June 7.
“A niche like that might point out” that calls had been “really faraway from there,” Dove stated, including the one technique to take away the calls from the log could be to take action manually.
Requested particularly if the calls had been deleted from the log, Dove stated, “it might seem that means,” noting there was no technique to know after they had been deleted or who was accountable.
Moreover, Murdaugh was in the identical group chat as his spouse when kinfolk had been texting about his dying father, Dove stated Wednesday. And whereas proof exhibits Maggie learn each messages, Murdaugh didn’t learn them till the subsequent day, Dove stated, regardless of telling state investigators about his concern for his father’s well being.
This habits seemed to be exterior Murdaugh’s typical texting habits, Dove testified, saying Murdaugh sometimes had a behavior of checking texts inside 5 minutes, or typically 30 to 40 minutes.
Correction: An earlier model of this story misspelled the Murdaugh household identify. The story additionally incorrectly described a portion of Rogan Gibson’s testimony. He instructed investigators shortly after the killings that he was 99% certain he heard Alex Murdaugh’s voice within the background of a cellphone name he had with Paul at 8:40 that night time.