Alex Murdaugh took a stand in his own defense Thursday. The disgraced former South Carolina attorney is accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul Murdaugh, in June 2021. His testimony came at the four-year mark of a Fatal boating accident involving Paul Murdaugh.
On February 23, 2019, Paul Murdaugh, then 19, was allegedly driving a boat with five others aboard when it crashed near Parris Island, South Carolina, killing Mallory Beach, age 19. Paul Murdaugh’s girlfriend Morgan Doughty, along with Miley Altman, her boyfriend Connor Cook and her cousin Anthony Cook – who was dating Beach – were also on board. Four of the five survivors suffered injuries that required hospitalization.
After the accident, Paul Murdaugh’s blood alcohol level was measured at 0.24, three times the legal limit, according to “48 Hours”.
The group of friends had been partying all night and, despite being underage, had been drinking, according to investigations. Surveillance video showed Paul Murdaugh buying alcohol at a convenience store at one point and taking pictures late in the evening, shortly before the fatal crash. Officers also recovered a cooler full of beer from the boat accident.
Paul Murdaugh’s driving before the crash was erratic, according to accounts from some of the survivors.
“Paul was just driving, eating donuts,” Altman told investigators.
At one point, Altman said, Connor Cook tried to take the wheel, but Paul Murdaugh stopped him.
“He said, ‘No, this is my boat, let me drive,'” Altman said, according to “48 Hours.”
Altman also stated that some of the passengers asked to be released, but Paul Murdaugh refused.
The boat collided with the Archers Creek Bridge at around 2:20 am, knocking Beach into the water. Connor Cook called 911, telling them “We’re in a boating accident on Archer’s Creek… There’s six of us and one is missing.”
After rescuers arrived, the other four passengers were taken to a local hospital. Anthony Cook, who appeared visibly disturbed in the police camera footage, chose to remain at the scene. According to “48 Hours,” hospital staff told investigators they saw Alex Murdaugh going from room to room, trying to reach other survivors. A security guard also reported that he heard him on the phone saying, “She’s gone. Don’t worry.”
Beach’s body was found over a week later on March 3, 2019, about five miles downriver from where the boat went down.
Murdaugh was charged with three felony counts of surfing under the influence on April 18, 2019, which would have been Beach’s 20th birthday. He pleaded not guilty to all three charges. He was killed before he could stand trial.