Criminal Justice

In murder trial cross-examination, prosecutors focus on ex-lawyer Murdaugh's financial misdeeds and his 'new story'

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Alex Murdaugh is cross-examined by prosecutor Creighton Waters while testifying in his murder trial on Friday in Walterboro, South Carolina. (Joshua Boucher/The State via AP, Pool)

Prosecutors cross-examining disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh on Friday suggested he made up a “new story” to align with trial evidence and accused him of “manufacturing an alibi.”

Murdaugh, once a prominent lawyer, took the stand on Thursday and denied murdering his wife, Maggie, and son Paul on June 7, 2021, the New York Times reported Thursday. “I didn’t shoot my wife or my son any time—ever,” he said.

He also said he had lied about his whereabouts just before the murders, and admitted that he stole from law firm clients and kept a check intended for his law firm to obtain money for oxycodone, according to the Times and Law360.

Prosecutors had introduced cellphone video of dog kennels at the family’s hunting property taken by the slain son at 8:40 p.m., minutes before the murders were thought to have taken place. Alex Murdaugh can be heard talking on the video even though he told police he left the home before the murders happened and was not at the dog kennels that night.

Murdaugh visited his mother’s home later that night and called 911 at 10:07 p.m. after he arrived back at his hunting property, according to previous evidence in the case.

On Thursday, Murdaugh said he lied about not being at the kennels because he feared he would be considered a suspect. On Friday, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters questioned the veracity of Murdaugh’s explanation for lying to authorities, according to the Washington Post’s coverage of cross-examination.

“So you, like you’ve done so many times over the course of your life, had to back up and make a new story that kind of fits with the facts that can’t be denied. Isn’t that true, sir?” Waters asked.

Waters also noted that between 9:02 p.m. and 9:06 p.m., before Murdaugh left for his mother’s home, Murdaugh’s cellphone recorded him taking 283 steps that he couldn’t explain, according to coverage of Friday’s proceedings by the New York Times and CNN. Some of the calls were made to Murdaugh’s slain wife, Maggie.

“You, as a lawyer and prosecutor, are up at 9:02, finally having your phone in your hand, moving around and making all these phone calls, to manufacture an alibi, is that not true?” Waters asked.

“It’s an absolute fact that I’m not manufacturing an alibi, as you say,” Murdaugh said. Murdaugh said the reason he made several calls to his wife was because he wanted to let her know he was leaving, and there wasn’t any reason to check why she wasn’t answering, he said.

Waters appeared to suggest Murdaugh was good at lying when he questioned him about cheating vulnerable clients. “These were real people that you looked in the eye and convinced them that everything was right,” Waters said.

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