Testimony about Alex Murdaugh’s bizarre botched hitman plot has been excluded from his double murder trial – in a move that raises doubts that the man accused of being his co-conspirator and drug dealer will now testify.
Judge Clifton Newman ruled in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, that jurors cannot hear evidence of the September 2021 highway shooting because it is a “bridge too far” for the state’s attempt to establish the reason for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paulo.
“Financial evidence was allowed in the question of motive. That evidence, I think, goes beyond motive or not evidence of motive, but more towards a common scheme or plan,” he said.
“It does not survive the test of logical relevance. And it goes more in the direction of showing a propensity to commit violent acts, which would make it not survive the analysis 403 of the (Rule). I believe allowing such evidence is going too far.”
The decision was made on Wednesday morning, before jurors entered the courtroom, with the judge hearing arguments from the defense and prosecution surrounding the bizarre plot.
On September 4, 2021 – three months after the double murders on June 7, 2021 – Mr. Murdaugh was suddenly shot in the head along a road in Hampton County.
He survived and called 911, claiming he was ambushed in a shootout while changing a tire on his vehicle.
He was taken to hospital, where he received treatment for what police called a “superficial gunshot wound to the head”.
But the story of Mr. Murdaugh about the incident quickly fell apart.
A week later, on September 13, he confessed to police that he had orchestrated the entire saga, paying an alleged assassin to shoot and kill him in an assisted suicide plot so that his surviving son, Buster, could collect life insurance. of $10 million.
He told investigators that he paid Curtis “Eddie” Smith – a former law firm client, distant cousin and alleged drug dealer – to carry out the shooting.
Both he and Mr. Smith were arrested and charged over the incident.
The day before the shooting, he was confronted by partners at his law firm PMPED about stealing millions of dollars from clients. He was forced to resign.
The day after the shooting, he went into rehab for a 20-year opioid addiction.
Prosecutors claim Murdaugh fatally shot Maggie and Paul in the kennels on the family’s sprawling 1,700-acre property at around 8:50 pm on the night of June 7, 2021.
Murdaugh claims he was sleeping at home and woke up and went to visit his mother. Upon his return, he said he found the bodies of his wife and child.
The brutal double murders brought to light a series of scandals surrounding Murdaugh, including unexplained deaths, the multi-million dollar fraud scheme and the assassin’s failed plot.
At the time of the murders, Paul was awaiting trial for the death of Mallory Beach – a 19-year-old woman who died in a 2019 accident on the Murdaugh family boat.
Paul was reportedly drunk driving the boat at the time and crashed it, knocking Beach overboard. His body washed up on the beach a week later. Paul was charged with multiple crimes for the sinking of the boat and was facing 25 years in prison at the time of his murder.
The Beach family sued Murdaugh and a hearing was set for the week of the murders. It was delayed after the murders of Maggie and Paul.
Days after the shooting, an investigation was reopened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County.
The openly gay teenager, 19, suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family has long doubted that version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in multiple police reports and community rumours.
An investigation has also been reopened into another mysterious death linked to the Murdaugh family – that of Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
She died in 2018 in a mysterious trip and falling accident at the family home. Murdaugh allegedly stole an estimated $4 million in a wrongful death settlement from his children.
Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and son. He pleaded not guilty.