Alex Murdaugh’s only surviving son, Buster, gave stoic testimony as his father smiled in the South Carolina courthouse where he is on trial for the murders of 26-year-old mother Maggie and brother Paul.
Buster — who has appeared in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, every day since the high-profile trial began in a show of support for his father — was the first witness called to the stand by the defense on Tuesday morning. -fair.
During calm, controlled testimony, he appeared to water down – but not refute – some key points of the prosecution’s case, including his father’s behavior on the day of the murders, the clothes he wore and the police interrogation in which he unwittingly confessed to killing his wife. wife and child.
Buster said his father called him at 9:10 pm on June 7, 2021 – just 20 minutes after he allegedly shot and killed Maggie and Paul in the kennels on the family’s Islandton property.
The 26-year-old testified that his father’s behavior was “normal” and not unlike how he was earlier in the day.
I told him I was going to visit his mother – Buster’s grandmother – at his parents’ house in Almeda, something he said was typical of him to do.
“Usually we would make calls while we were in the car… it was very normal for him to call,” he said.
After the murders of Maggie and Paul, Buster said that his father had been “wrecked” and “heartbroken”.
In what marks the first time the 26-year-old has spoken publicly about the murders, he testified about the moment he learned his mother and brother were dead.
Buster said that Mr. Murdaugh called him that night and asked if he was sitting down.
“He looked strange and then he told me that my mother and brother were shot.”
At first, Buster said he just “sat there in shock.” So he and his girlfriend Brooklynn grabbed a few things and drove to the Moselle, arriving at the property in the early hours of the morning of June 8th.
“He was destroyed, he was heartbroken,” he said of his father, adding that he could barely speak.
“I walked in the door, saw him and gave him a hug… I just broke down.”
Several friends and partners from Murdaugh’s law firm PMPED were also there and stayed for several hours before he, his father, girlfriend and uncle John Marvin left for Murdaugh’s parents’ home in Almeda.
Buster testified that he helped his father pack a bag of clothes from his closet to take with them – casting doubt on some of the prosecution’s cases.
After the murders, Buster said he was with his father almost all day every day for “a good while” and kept a close eye on him.
He said he couldn’t think of any time when his father disappeared for periods of time – seeming to cast doubt on the state’s suggestion that he dispose of evidence after the murders.
Jurors previously heard from Murdaugh’s mother’s caregiver, Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, who testified that the disgraced attorney showed up at her parents’ home around 6:30 am, days after the murders.
He hid a mysterious blue item upstairs in the house and then left again, she said.
A blue tarp and blue raincoat were found in a search of the house, with the jacket covered in particles of firearm residue.
Prosecutors claim Murdaugh wrapped the murder weapons in his jacket and initially hid them in his parents’ home.
The weapons – a shotgun and a rifle – were never found.
In a dramatic moment, he insisted his father said “they” and not “me” during a police interview video that sparked speculation that the disgraced legal heir to the dynasty may have inadvertently slipped up and confessed to the murders.
Video of the June 10, 2021 interview – Mr. Murdaugh since the murders – was previously shown in court, with the legal descendant sobbing talking about the murders.
SLED Special Agent Jeff Croft testified that Murdaugh said, “I did him a lot of harm.”
Buster refuted that testimony, saying his father said “they did him a lot of harm” after hearing the footage in court.
“He said ‘they did it so badly,'” he said.
Buster told the court that he heard his father repeatedly say those five words the night of the murders.
There has been a lot of speculation about whether Murdaugh said “they” or “me” in the audio, which is hard to tell apart.
This marks the first time the 26-year-old has spoken publicly about the murders of his mother and brother or his father’s series of alleged crimes.
Buster – the eldest son and now the sole survivor of Maggie and Mr. Murdaugh – supported his father during the growing number of allegations against him.
Coming in as the first major defense witness in their case, he took advantage of the strategy to introduce Mr. Murdaugh as a loving family man who could never have killed his wife and child in such a brutal way – that it caused Paul’s brain to shoot out of his skull.
The 26-year-old told the court how he lived with his family – Maggie, Paul and Murdaugh – in Beaufort before moving to Hampton County in 2000.
Growing up, he said his parents watched “every game” he and Paul ever played in sports and that his father coached his Little League teams.
Over time, the Moselle estate became the family’s primary home – although they spent much of the summer at the beach house on Edisto Beach.
He, Paul, Maggie and his father called each other and spoke on the phone “practically every day”.
“It was very frequent… I spoke to my mother every day several times a day… and my father and my brother too,” he said.
“And that’s just me. I know they were all talking to each other too.
The three men often hunted together on the 1,700-acre property, he said.
One Christmas, he and Buster each received a Blackout 300 rifle as a gift.
Buster testified that Paul later told him that his gun was “apparently lost, stolen, taken” and – after that – his brother would always use his.
He said he didn’t know Paul got a replacement gun and didn’t see him using a Blackout that wasn’t his.
The killer shot Maggie multiple times with a Blackout 300 rifle – believed to be a replacement rifle Murdaugh later bought for Paul to replace the one he lost.
SLED agents say “family weapons” were used to kill the two victims, with Paul shot twice with a shotgun loaded with buckshot and steel pellets.
Buster testified that he had never seen a gun loaded with both types of ammunition and did not know anyone who did.
Throughout the weeks of the trial, Buster and several other family members banded together, supporting Murdaugh in court every day.
However, Buster was also spotted hugging his aunt Marian Proctor – Maggie’s sister – in court after she testified against her father, including detailing his drug use, an alleged affair years before the murders, and his strange behavior in the wake of the 7th of June. 2021 murders.
Throughout the trial, Buster’s seemingly bad behavior was also displayed within the courtroom.
Judge Clifton Newman is said to have issued several warnings to various members of the Murdaugh family about his courtroom behavior and they were told to move to the back of the room.
In court the week of Feb. 6, Buster appeared to “flip the middle finger” at attorney Mark Tinsley when he took the witness stand in the boating accident lawsuit he filed against Mr. Murdaugh.
sources said FITS News that when Buster was then asked to go to the back of the court, he allegedly kicked a water bottle in anger.
The judge warned that he and other family members could be removed from court if there are more wrong moves.
Buster’s name has also appeared in a number of other scandals involving the once powerful family.
He is accused of buying alcohol for his younger brother Paul before the fatal boating accident in 2019.
On the night of February 24, 2019, Paul was allegedly drunk driving the Murdaugh family boat with several of his friends on board. The boat hit some rocks and threw the passengers overboard.
All survived except Mallory Beach, 19, whose body washed up on the beach about a week later.
In April 2019, Paul was charged with three counts in Beach’s death, including surfing under the influence of alcohol, and faces up to 25 years in prison. The charges were dropped after his murder.
Murdaugh was also sued by the Beach family, with prosecutors saying the lawsuit was picking up pace in the days leading up to the murders and that the disgraced lawyer’s finances were about to be exposed because of it.
Buster’s name also came up in connection with the mysterious death of Stephen Smith – a 19-year-old gay teenager who was found dead on the side of a road in Hampton County in 2015.
His testimony marked the defense’s first major witness, which began its case on Friday afternoon.
During the state’s case, Murdaugh’s lawyers hinted at a number of theories they plan to present — including that there were two killers and that the murders were linked to a local drug gang.
Jurors heard four weeks of dramatic testimony from 61 prosecution witnesses covering a trove of circumstantial evidence, including cell phone and car data, a damning video allegedly placing Murdaugh at the crime scene, and apparent flaws in his alibi for the time of the murders.
The state’s last witness, SLED agent Peter Rudofski, presented a detailed timeline of the final movements of the two victims — and the movements of the accused killer.
Among the timeline was the newly obtained car data that placed Mr. Murdaugh at the location where his wife’s phone was later found – before he quickly fled the scene.
It also showed that he was only at his parents’ house for 21 minutes that night – less than half the 45 minutes to an hour he claimed to police.
The bombastic testimony of his mother’s caregiver, Muschelle “Shelly” Smith, previously disputed Murdaugh’s alibi, saying he showed up at his sick mother’s home for just 20 minutes that night – before telling her to tell authorities that he been there twice as long.
A cellphone video captured by Paul minutes before the murders also appears to place Mr. Murdaugh at the crime scene.
Prosecutors claim Murdaugh shot and killed Maggie and Paul near the kennels on the family’s sprawling Islandton estate in order to divert attention from his string of alleged scandals and financial crimes.
Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and child. He pleaded not guilty.