Criminal Justice

Caretaker's testimony hurts alibi of once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh, who's charged with murdering wife and son

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AP Murdaugh blue raincoat

A blue raincoat is seen during the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Feb. 6. Photo by Jeff Blake/The State via the Associated Press.

Double murder suspect Alex Murdaugh, a now-disbarred lawyer, spent only 15 to 20 minutes at his mother’s home on the night that his wife and son were killed, the mother’s caretaker testified at his trial in South Carolina on Monday.

The caretaker, Mushelle “Shelley” Smith, said Murdaugh later told her that, if anyone asks, he was at the home for 30 to 40 minutes on June 7, 2021, report Courthouse News Service and People.

Smith said it was unusual for Murdaugh to visit his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, so late. Murdaugh also offered to help pay for Smith’s wedding and said he knew the principal at the school where she worked during the day in food service, she testified.

Smith also said she saw Murdaugh carry a blue tarp into the home that night. When investigators searched the home, they found a blue tarp in a bedroom closet and a blue raincoat in a coat closet. Agents found gunshot residue on the raincoat.

Alex Murdaugh Alex Murdaugh. Photo from the Hampton County Detention Center via the Associated Press.

Smith insisted that she had seen a tarp, not a raincoat. But when prosecutors showed her an evidence photo of a crumpled raincoat, she said it was consistent with what she had seen, Fox News reports.

Prosecutors contend that Murdaugh visited his mother to create an alibi for his time away from the family’s hunting property in Colleton County, South Carolina, where the murders happened.

Prosecutors have introduced a cellphone video taken by Murdaugh’s 22-year-old son Paul at 8:40 p.m., only minutes before Paul and his mother, Maggie, were thought to have been killed. Murdaugh could be heard talking in the background.

Murdaugh called 911 at 10:07 p.m. after he arrived back to the hunting property.

Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer of Murdaugh’s former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (known as PMPED), testified Tuesday. She said on the day of the murders, she confronted Murdaugh about $792,000 in missing fees that belonged to the firm, according to Fox News.

The conversation ended, Seckinger said, when Murdaugh received a phone call informing him that his father was back in the hospital and was not expected to survive.

PMPED, now known as the Parker Law Group, was founded by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather in 1910. Murdaugh’s brother, Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV, also works at the South Carolina firm.

See also: “Law firm staffers were first to suspect once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh was stealing client money, partner testifies” “Lawyer is charged with insurance fraud for allegedly hiring ex-client to kill him” “Lawyer accused of staging his own shooting now faces allegations of stealing settlement payout”

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