Insufficient investigation? Takeaways from the Murdaugh murder trial

Insufficient investigation? Takeaways from the Murdaugh murder trial

Investigators want to say crime scene Tells the story even if no one else does.

In the double-murder trial of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdoff, his defense lawyers want to believe the crime scene. Can’t tell them much State agents did a poor job investigating the deaths of his wife and son.

Murdoff, 54, is accused of killing his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son Paul in kennels near their home on June 7, 2021 as a onetime prominent attorney. Career and finances were in shambles. Marduff has denied any role in the fatal shooting. He faces 30 years to life if convicted.

The five-week trial has so far seen some key takeaways from 61 prosecution and 11 defense witnesses, including Murdaf himself.

Crime scene problem

The defense called experts who said investigators did not dust off fingerprints, collect and test blood, or photograph evidence with the angle or clarity needed to properly study it later.

first officer The rural Colleton County estate arrived 20 minutes after Murdaugh called 911 when he returned home to visit his sick mother. Almost immediately, the local sheriff realized he was dealing with someone whose family dominated the neighborhood law enforcement. Hampton County for generation and handed over the investigation to the state law enforcement department.

It took hours for agents across the state go deep South Carolina Lowcountry. At the time, more than a dozen family and friends walked around the scene, comforting Murduff. The bodies of Paul and Maggie Murdoff were covered with a sheet, which could absorb the liquid instead of a tarp. The sheet was then not saved, meaning possible hair or the killer’s DNA could be lost. The rain fell intermittently and fell from the roof of the canal onto Paul Murdough’s covered body.

“It’s a crime scene. You don’t want water dripping everywhere. But more importantly, I thought it was pretty disrespectful,” Murdoff’s former law partner Mark Ball testified.

When state agents show up, they send Murduff and his staff home. Witnesses testified that it was not searched for weapons, bloody clothing and other evidence, or even checked to see if any suspects were hiding inside.

Prosecutors have Little direct evidence Murdaugh’s crime. The weapon used in the murder was not found. No bloody clothes or surveillance video.

Prosecutor John Meadors told an expert that investigators did the best they could under the circumstances.

“You’re getting paid to come in here and say they did a bad job,” Meadors said.

star witness

He was the 72nd witness in the five-week trial. But everyone cheered when Alex Murdoff headed to the witness stand Thursday.

His defense team wasted no time. Their first question was whether he had killed his wife or his son.

“I didn’t kill Maggie, and I didn’t kill Paul. I would never hurt Maggie, and I would never hurt Paul — under any circumstances,” Murdoff said.

Murdoff admitted he lied for 20 months when he told police, his family and anyone else he wasn’t at the kennel before he found the bodies of his wife and son there. a video On his son’s iPhone, Alex recorded Murdoff’s voice minutes before the shooting, which prosecutors believe was the murder. It took state agents more than a year to hack the phone and find it.

Under questioning, Murdoff admitted to stealing from clients and his law firm, possibly sealing his fate for many. 100 other charges He faced everything from theft to insurance fraud to tax evasion.

“I took money that wasn’t mine. And I shouldn’t have done it. I hate that I did it. I am embarrassed by this. I am embarrassed for my son. I’m embarrassed for my family,” Murdoff said.

Cousin Eddie

Outside of Murdaugh and his family, no potential witness has piqued the interest of those watching the trial like Curtis “Eddie” Smith.

“Cousin Eddie,” As many took to calling him, Murduff said he called when he wanted Someone to kill him Three months after the death of his wife and son.

The fatal shot only grazed Moordoff’s head. Smith told reporters that the gun fired as they wrestled over the weapon and that if he had shot Murdoch intentionally, he would not have missed.

Smith and Murdoff met about a decade ago when Smith needed a lawyer for a workers’ compensation case. Investigators said they ran drugs and money laundering Check cashing with Smith to help hide money he stole from clients.

In the end, both prosecutors and defense attorneys seem to have made up their minds Smith It can hurt them as much as it can help their case.

Defense attorney Dick Harputlian said Smith has six different explanations for Murdoff’s shooting “and any other information you ask him.”

But as prosecutors and Harputlian discussed with the judge earlier this month whether Smith would testify, Festi’s defense attorney lamented that Smith would not be called.

“Mr. Smith’s cross-examination is something I look forward to,” Harputlian said.

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