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At This Hour
Alex Murdaugh Cross-Examined In His Murder Trial. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired February 24, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I'm Kate Bolduan. At this hour, we're going to take you back to South Carolina where we have been watching a second day of Alex Murdaugh on the stand testifying in his own defense. It's also a second day of cross examination in his double murder trial. The chief prosecutor really getting into it today and grilling Murdaugh about his drug addiction and his alleged financial crimes and long list of lies. Let's get back into the courtroom right now.
ALEX MURDAUGH, MURDER DEFENDANT: I don't -- did I have a conversation with Paul about cash?
CREIGHTON WATERS, PROSECUTOR: Yes. That you talked to him about cash and some problem with his tale prior to going down there? Did you have any knowledge of that prior to going down there?
MURDAUGH: I'm not sure. As I sit here today, I don't recall that, but I don't think so.
WATERS: When you first arrived in the golf cart, where did you pull up to?
MURDAUGH: I pulled up right where Maggie was.
WATERS: Which is where?
MURDAUGH: She was standing in a spot where she could see in between chicken coop and the storage room of the kennels, where the dogs were back up in those planted pines behind the kennels to the left of the chicken coop.
WATERS: And what did you do after that?
MURDAUGH: I went back to the house.
WATERS: No, I mean, did you pulled up, you get out of the golf cart?
MURDAUGH: No, when I pulled up, I stayed on the golf cart.
WATERS: You stayed on the golf cart. How long did you stay on the golf cart? MURDAUGH: However long I was down there.
WATERS: The entire time?
MURDAUGH: No, I got off to take the chicken from Bubba.
WATERS: All right, so how long were you down there before you took the chicken off to Bubba?
MURDAUGH: Very short time.
WATERS: Like what?
MURDAUGH: A couple of minutes.
WATERS: And what were you doing during the couple of minutes before you got over there to deal with Bubba?
MURDAUGH: Talking to Mags.
WATERS: All right, and what did you all talk about?
MURDAUGH: I don't know.
WATERS: You don't remember?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. I do know that Maggie was very concerned about Paul-Paul. And --
WATERS: You remember a lot of detail about all these new facts, but you don't remember what you talked about?
MURDAUGH: I don't remember the exact details of what we talked about. I believe that at that time, we may have talked about Paul-Paul, but I'm not certain.
WATERS: Were you withdrawing at this time?
MURDAUGH: At this time, no, sir.
WATERS: You weren't withdrawing at all?
MURDAUGH: No. I mean, I would only withdraw when I didn't have pills.
WATERS: Then you're saying you had pills?
WATERS: Down there for a couple of minutes, I think you've said now before you get off the golf cart.
MURDAUGH: About, yes, sir.
WATERS: All right. And where do you go at that point?
MURDAUGH: I take the chicken from Bubba. WATERS: All right, so you get up?
MURDAUGH: Well, I mean, Bubba is, you know, Bubba's come out there with this chicken. I mean, he's showing us, hey, I caught this chicken, and I take the chicken from Bubba.
WATERS: Did Bubba came up by the golf cart?
MURDAUGH: He came up by the golf cart and then he came up to Maggie and I, which I was on the golf cart. She's by the golf cart. I mean he's not coming to the golf cart, but he's coming to us.
WATERS: Is this during the kennel video or is this after the kennel video?
MURDAUGH: Well, no, you hear Maggie say he's got a chicken. That's what she's talking about, is Bubba caught a chicken.
WATERS: All right, all right. So is the kennel video still going on before you go get the chicken? I mean, you've heard it correct? You've heard it in this courtroom?
MURDAUGH: I don't know exactly. I don't know exactly. But in close timing to Bubba coming out of those woods with the chicken, I got up and took the chicken from him.
WATERS: OK. Let me ask you this. Were the dogs barking and carrying on or going out into the woods or acting like they sent somebody was around that they didn't know?
MURDAUGH: Were the dogs acting like there was somebody around it, they didn't know?
WATERS: Yes, like dogs do.
WATERS: No, they weren't.
MURDAUGH: There was nobody around that the dogs didn't know.
WATERS: OK. Dogs didn't, to your indication, sense anything out of the ordinary? They were just chasing after the guinea.
MURDAUGH: There was nobody else around --
WATERS: All right, good.
MURDAUGH: -- for them to sense.
WATERS: You've heard the kennel video. Would you agree with me that it lasts for about 50 seconds?
MURDAUGH: I agree with that. WATERS: So it would have ended around 8:45 and 45 seconds. Would you agree with that?
MURDAUGH: I do agree with that.
WATERS: Did you have the chicken out of Bubba's mouth at the end of the kennel video, or did it take longer than that?
MURDAUGH: You know, I can't remember exactly when in the video he came up with the chicken, but I would have had the chicken out of his mouth within 10, 15 seconds of Maggie saying he's got a chicken.
WATERS: All right. And so then what did you do?
MURDAUGH: I put the chicken up.
WATERS: All right. How long did that take? Did you get out of the golf cart to do that?
MURDAUGH: I did.
WATERS: All right. And you had to go walk to where it was?
MURDAUGH: Well, yes, I mean, a few feet, but I did that, yes.
WATERS: All right, so how long did that take? We're at 8:46 now. How long did that take?
WATERS: Just seconds? All right. And what did you do after that?
MURDAUGH: Got back on the golf cart.
WATERS: And what did you do after that?
MURDAUGH: I left.
WATERS: You left. Just jumped on the golf cart and left.
MURDAUGH: Well, that's what I was getting ready to say. Did I get on the golf cart and leave that second? Probably not. But did I get on the golf cart and leave very quickly after that? I did.
WATERS: OK. Yes, I think you testified yesterday, I got out of there.
MURDAUGH: I did.
WATERS: Why'd you get out of there so quick, Mr. Murdaugh?
MURDAUGH: Because it was chaotic, it was hot, and I was getting ready to do exactly what I didn't want to do.
WATERS: You're getting ready to do what you didn't want to do?
MURDAUGH: That's correct. WATERS: Yes.
MURDAUGH: I was getting ready to sweat. I was getting ready to work. I went back to the air conditioner.
WATERS: So did you say goodbye, according to your new story?
MURDAUGH: Did I say goodbye?
WATERS: Yes. Did you talk to them at all, or did you just get the chicken put on there, jump on there and just take off?
MURDAUGH: Oh, no, I wouldn't have just gone off. I mean, I would have said, I'm leaving.
MURDAUGH: Did I say goodbye? Bye.
WATERS: And again, go ahead.
MURDAUGH: I mean there would have been some, you know, there would have been some exchange. I'm not staying here.
WATERS: What was that exchange? I mean, you've had such a photographic memory about these new stories. What happened here?
MURDAUGH: There's not. I can't tell you the exact words.
WATERS: You don't remember your conversation after you put that chicken up? Did you all talk about the chicken?
MURDAUGH: No, I don't think we did.
WATERS: Did you talk with Paul about cash's tale?
MURDAUGH: After the chicken?
MURDAUGH: No, I know I didn't do that.
WATERS: Did you tell Maggie, I'm going to go check on him?
MURDAUGH: At that point? No, I don't think I did.
WATERS: Did you tell Maggie, oh, let's hide out here if I could go back?
MURDAUGH: I certainly would have said something to that effect.
WATERS: All right. So unlike everything else with the new story, you just can't recall what that would have been?
MURDAUGH: Well, you know, I mean you're making that categorization. I think there's other things about that I can't remember. But if the question is, can I remember exactly what words I used when I gave Maggie some salutation when I'm leaving? I can't tell you what those were, but it would have been something to the effect of I'm leaving.
WATERS: All right. OK. But you would concede that there was at least some conversation that you wouldn't have just put the chicken on there and jump, ran back to the golf cart and taken off, correct?
MURDAUGH: Without talking to Maggie? I would have never done that.
WATERS: All right. All right, well, let's, you know, you want to say a minute? Does that sound about right?
MURDAUGH: A minute for what?
WATERS: To have just whatever interaction it took for you to then, according to your new story, drive back to --
MURDAUGH: No, sir. It wouldn't have taken me a minute. It would have been -- it would have said -- it would have been, I'm leaving. I'll see you in a minute.
WATERS: OK. So 30 seconds?
MURDAUGH: I don't think it would have taken 30 seconds, but I mean, I'm fine with you using whatever time you want to apply, but I don't think it wouldn't taken long.
WATERS: I'm just asking about real life here and how people interact with one another, Mr. Murdaugh. I mean, so what you're telling this jury, I call you're fuzzy on these kind of details is that you jetted down there. You dealt with the chicken and jetted right back?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. No, sir. I didn't jet down there, and I didn't jet back. I got up -- after Maggie asked me to leave, after Maggie asked me to go with her, and I didn't. I got up. I went and got on the golf cart. I drove down there. I did what I did. I said, I'm leaving, or something to those words, and I went back.
WATERS: All right, well, if it's about 8:46, if the kennel video ends at 8:45 and 45 seconds and it's about 8:46, we at least can see that maybe it was about a minute before you got on that golf cart and headed back, just reasonable, real life.
MURDAUGH: Maybe. I mean, I don't think it was that long, but maybe. Sure.
WATERS: All right, so.
MURDAUGH: But I don't think it was that long. I mean exactly what I thought was going to be going on at that kennel, why I didn't want to go there to begin with is exactly what was going on.
WATERS: Yes, well, I get that.
MURDAUGH: And I left.
WATERS: Are these also convenient facts in your new story that have to fit with the timeline now that evidence has been thrown in your face?
MURDAUGH: No, sir.
WATERS: Does that sound like real life to you, that you jet down there and jet back, Mr. Murdaugh.
MURDAUGH: Mr. Waters, as I just told you, I didn't get on my golf cart and jet down there. I didn't jet back.
WATERS: The reason why you have to be fuzzy about these details --
MURDAUGH: Mr. Waters --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- just answer before another question is presented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. Just a moment --
MURDAUGH: I'm answering your question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you responding to the last question?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir. I'm responding to your question. And you're using words that I'm not using. And that's your categorization.
WATERS: I'm entitled to ask my questions to you, sir?
MURDAUGH: And I'm going to answer them. All I'm saying is I'm taking issue with the manner in which you're changing what I'm saying.
WATERS: So you disagree this is a new story? You disagree with that characterization?
MURDAUGH: Yes. This is the first time that this is being told openly.
WATERS: And you disagree to my characterization that you've got a photographic memory about the details that have to fit now that these facts, but you're fuzzy on the other stuff that complicates that. You disagree with that?
MURDAUGH: I do disagree with that. I think that I have a good memory about a lot of things on this.
WATERS: How about this? We got the kennel at the video ending at 8:45.45. So just to take care of the chicken, put it up, I was going to say 8:47, but somewhere around there, I think you said somewhere around there. Is that fair? Just to do whatever you need to do and get on that cart before you head back.
MURDAUGH: The Kennel video ended at 8:45?
WATERS: And 45 seconds.
MURDAUGH: Not 8:46. It certainly could have been 8:47 before I left out of there.
MURDAUGH: I think it was sooner than that but it could have been.
WATERS: All right, that's 60 seconds and 75 seconds, correct? After it ends.
MURDAUGH: If it ends at 8:45 and 45 seconds, it's a minute and 15 seconds.
WATERS: You characterize it yesterday as I got out of there, right?
MURDAUGH: That is exactly what I did.
WATERS: All right. So if we're at 8:47, I think you said, giving you the benefit of the doubt, it's two minutes to get up back to the house, correct?
WATERS: All right, and when you got back to the house, where did you park the golf cart?
MURDAUGH: Same place I'd gotten it from, right where Mark Ball testified that it was.
WATERS: All right, and what door did you go in?
MURDAUGH: I would have gone in the front door.
WATERS: And if you left around 8:47 and it took about two minutes to get up to the house, what time would that make it, Mr. Murdaugh?
MURDAUGH: If I left at 8:47. And if it took me two minutes, that would make it 8:49.
WATERS: 8:49. When you testified you went inside and the T.V. is on, right?
MURDAUGH: I did go inside and the T.V. was on.
WATERS: OK. And you laid down, is that right?
MURDAUGH: I did.
WATERS: All right, before you said you've been napping for an hour or so or napping that entire time and now you lay down on the couch?
MURDAUGH: That's correct.
WATERS: All right. And maybe dose for a second?
WATERS: According to your new story. How long did you dose?
MURDAUGH: If I dosed, extremely short time.
WATERS: Extremely short time. Because you would agree with me that at 9:02 you're up and moving, according to the data?
MURDAUGH: I agree that according to that data, my phone's recording steps at whatever time it is, 9:02 something.
WATERS: How long did it take you if you're at the house at 8:49, how long before you went late on the couch?
MURDAUGH: I would have gone straight to the couch probably. I may have gone by the sink or, you know, I may have gotten a spit cup, but it would have been basically straight to the couch.
WATERS: Straight to the couch?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
WATERS: And you're telling this jury that's what happened and you were back at the house at 8:49, and you lay down on the couch and dose for a second, and then you were up with more steps in a shorter time period than you had done all day?
MURDAUGH: Well, I mean, your number is 8:49. What I'm telling this jury is that I went down there and when I took that chicken from Bubba, I would have said something to Mags. I got back on that golf cart and I drove back to my house. After getting back to my house, I went inside, and in short order, I went to the couch. That's what I'm telling this jury.
WATERS: Did you go anywhere else in the house?
MURDAUGH: Mr. Waters, I can't tell you specifically about that. I don't think so, but I may have.
WATERS: Did you have that 10 blackout in a 12 gage shotgun on that golf cart when you drove down there?
WATERS: You didn't?
WATERS: Did you see them when you were down there?
MURDAUGH: No. WATERS: No. So we got you back around 8:49 and you're leaving at 9:02, correct? And you didn't see any weapons down there, you just happened to be back there? You didn't hear anything at all? Did you hear anything at all, Mr. Murdaugh, during that time period?
MURDAUGH: No, I did not.
WATERS: You didn't? Did you tell law enforcement that you thought you heard them pull up, didn't you tell law enforcement that?
MURDAUGH: I did think they had pulled up.
WATERS: All right, so that was that you did think that?
WATERS: All right. So now you're saying there was a car pulling up?
WATERS: You didn't testify to that yesterday, did you, in your new version of events that --?
MURDAUGH: No, I don't -- Mr. Waters, I don't believe there was a car pulling up.
WATERS: OK, but that's what you told law enforcement, didn't you?
MURDAUGH: No, I told law enforcement that I thought they had pulled up.
WATERS: OK. All right, but you're saying you couldn't hear blackout shots supposedly. But you could hear that, correct?
MURDAUGH: I didn't say I couldn't hear blackout shots, but I'm saying that I thought when I got up from taking a nap, if I took a nap, but when I got up from laying down, as I was getting ready to go to my mom's, there was a point in time where I thought Maggie and Paul had come back.
WATERS: OK. You also told him that you thought you heard a wildcat and maybe it was a person or something like that as well?
MURDAUGH: No, that's not what I said.
WATERS: What did you say then?
MURDAUGH: I said when I went outside that there's a house cat that's gone wild and he hangs around, he goes from hanging around the shop, goes from hanging around the house, different times, you might, and there'll be times you don't see him. And he had been around the house. When I went outside, I believe that cat was over there.
WATERS: OK. And you made a point in mentioning that to law enforcement?
MURDAUGH: I never thought it was a person.
WATERS: All right, but you made a point in mentioning that to law enforcement, correct?
MURDAUGH: In the course of discussing it, I did tell them that.
WATERS: But you never told them all this new story that you've constructed in light of this trial, is that correct?
MURDAUGH: I did not tell them that I went to the kennel. I lied about that.
WATERS: And at the same time, you also looked at this jury and tried to tell them that you had been cooperative in this investigation?
MURDAUGH: Other than lying to them about going to the kennel, I was cooperative in every aspect of this investigation.
WATERS: Very cooperative. Except maybe the most important fact of all, that you were at the murder scene with the victims' just minutes before they died, right?
MURDAUGH: I did not tell them that I went to the kennel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll take a break at this time for about 15 minutes talking to the jury. Please go to the jury room. Please not discuss the case.
BOLDUAN: All right, we have been watching day two of Alex Murdaugh on the stand, facing a pretty intense second day of cross examination from the chief prosecutor. Let's discuss this. With me now, CNN's Jean Casarez and CNN legal analysts Elliot Williams will be joining us in just a moment. Jean, we're going to have to say they've taken about a 15 minutes break and we'll see when they pick back up. But what stands out to you and what we've heard so far today?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we have just been listening to, the timeline, this is the pivotal timeline. It is so important because it will be a jury question of fact when they get in there to deliberate. What we just heard was that the kennel video began at 8:44. That's where you hear Alex Murdaugh's voice.
We just learned it ends at 8:45.45. Alex Murdaugh just admitted not only that he was down there, but he admitted that maybe he didn't leave the area on the golf cart right at the kennel until about 8:47, and then went about two minutes to get back to the house. We know from previous testimony that at 8:49, Maggie and Paul's phones lock forever. They never turn them on again.
The prosecutor is using this, we've heard this in the trial as the time of death, the estimated time of death, because obviously you can't turn your phone back on.
Now, the defense is going to argue strongly against that because they were busy down there, they were working with the dogs and the chickens and everything. So just because they're not using their phones doesn't mean that's when they were murdered. But now there's something else with this timeline. We know because of the OnStar data that at 9:07, Alex Murdaugh was in his car going down the driveway to go visit his mother.
So you look at that very small timeline, 8:49, when the phone stopped, let's say that's when he murdered them. You've got a short duration of time before 9:07, right? That's 13 minutes, give or take, right? You're going to be covered in blood. Those were close range shots. They were, according to testimony, 3 feet basically away from he was from the victims or whoever shot them.
You'd be covered in blood. You'd get back, you'd have blood everywhere. You'd have blood on your shoes. You would have to really clean up, shower. You'd have to make sure blood isn't in the house anywhere. Your feet aren't, you know, don't have blood on them. You'd have to bag up the clothes. You'd have to get the murder weapons. You'd have to get everything in the vehicle so that you weren't leaving any DNA or blood in the car also. You'd have to get Maggie's phone, make sure you got that in there.
Jury question will be, was there enough time for him to do all of that? Because it is a short window, but jurors will debate that. They will deliberate on that.
BOLDUAN: It is interesting because just watching it seems nitty-gritty from 8:45.45 to the next minute. But when it comes to how tight the timeline is that they're presenting every second and minute counts in the case that the crowd -- that the state's trying to present and what the defense will say there isn't enough time. Elliott, you've been listening to this closely as well. From what you've heard so far from yesterday and then continuing today, do you think it is a good idea, continues to be a good idea, if so, that they have put Alex Murdaugh on the stand to defend himself?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, a little bit of both, Kate. And here's the thing, in all -- everything in criminal trials comes down to credibility. Do you believe the witness or the evidence is put before you? If you're a juror, you know, do you trust that this is the fingerprint that was at the scene of the crime? Do you trust the words that come out of this person's mouth? And let's be perfectly blunt, this is not a credible witness.
Number one, he's admitted to lying to the police. Number two, there are discrepancies in his story. Number three, this whole question of, and I think it was a brilliant question were the dogs alarmed? Was there somebody else there that you, you know, you know your dogs pretty well would -- were they behaving in a manner that suggested that there might have been somebody else there?
So he's got some big credibility issues. But walking through some of the things that Jean talked about a moment ago, you just don't have evidence linking him specifically to the scene of the crime, or at least it's challenging evidence. So, for instance, number one, you got no murder weapon. Number two, you don't have blood on his clothing. Number three, the number of minutes that passed. So it's just, there are some problems here on all sides. But the big thing is you have evidence linking him to the crime and it's a little tenuous at this point.
BOLDUAN: And Elliot, I did want to ask you about that because while each piece of what he has testified to and what we're hearing in cross is very interesting and obviously it's going to add up. The basics there, there's no smoking gun, there's no murder weapon, there's no eyewitness. I continue to wonder how high the hill is to climb for the state to prove its case.
WILLIAMS: It's pretty high because they just have to get in one juror's head. Now, what the prosecutors have done here is create a masterful case of laying out somebody who had a motive for committing a crime, whether it was the drug addiction or some of the financial problems which he admitted to on the stand, which, by the way, he's got -- there's a much easier path of convicting him of those financial crimes, the 80 or 90 charges he's gotten when the time comes for his trial some months from now. So he submitted all of that, right?
But when it comes to hard evidence, that jurors who are going to have to find unanimously, beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a really, really high burden, you know, they just have -- that defense just has to get in one juror's head and then it's over. That's not to say that there isn't damning evidence here for 80, it's very for witnesses, it's just impossible to believe. You just can't trust this guy, the words that are coming out of his mouth.
But, you know, I don't like the term smoking gun, to be honest, as a foreign prosecutor, because nothing's really ever a smoking gun. But you don't have a weapon, fingerprints, DNA, and you have sloppy cops at the scene, you know, leaving skull fragments on the ground, apparently, after their search, so there are just problems in this prosecution that may make it tough to get to a unanimous jury verdict here of conviction.
BOLDUAN: And Jean, we've watched so many trials and you've been watching this one from the beginning. What do you think of I mean, it seems that there's real tension and frustration that is being exposed or is being played into on the part of the prosecutors as they're in this cross. The fact that we're now hearing the chief prosecutor almost with every questions talk about this new story that you're now crafting, the way that they kind of went into that and even the moment when we saw the, his defense attorney stand up and object when it came to, he said on Fifth Amendment grounds, when they were talking about that, Murdaugh was saying he'd made multiple requests to even tell his story to the prosecutors. Just what do you think of that dynamic?
CASAREZ: Well, that was fascinating right then, because it talked about -- he -- Murdaugh really started it, saying, we begged you, we wanted to talk to you and you wouldn't respond to us. And so then the prosecutor says, yes, you remain silent. You didn't say that what the truth was about the kennel. You didn't tell so and so and so and so and so and so. Well, you have a right to remain silent right, when you're a defendant. And so that's when the Fifth Amendment argue.
But the judge ruled for the prosecution. And so it just kept going. What's fascinating is how it all started, this cross examination with the financial crimes, right?
BOLDUAN: It felt like a completely different trial we're watching.
CASAREZ: Now when the jury gets the case, the verdict form is not going to have anything about the financial crimes, it is about the murders, right? In fact, there will be in the charge a statement that the financial crimes you cannot use to show he's guilty of this, but to show motive.
BOLDUAN: It's going to be really interesting. All right, so we -- as we heard from the judge, about a 15 minutes break. We'll see when they pick back up and we will take you back in as cross exam continues At This Hour. Jean, Elliott, thanks, guys.
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