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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Alex Murdaugh Testifies In His Murder Trial. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired February 24, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right. Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm John Berman, in for Jake.
Today, we have been watching the dramatic cross-examination of Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina lawyer, charged with murder in the deaths of his wife and son. Now much of today's questioning focused on the timeline of the day when these two people were killed. He was repeatedly questioned, Alex Murdaugh was, on where he was and what he was doing, and he told attorneys today he told prosecutors, he was not trying to manufacture an alibi when he now admittedly lied to investigators around that time.
Here with me is CNN's Jean Casarez who has been watching so much of this trial.
And, Jean, just what jumped out to you at the end here, particularly the dramatic finish of that cross-examination?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He went through every single name of his partners, the people that should have gotten millions of dollars from the law firm, his family, everyone for decades he had lied to over and over and over again. Then he lied about not being down where the murders happened with his wife and his son. So close in time to when their phones locked forever, meaning they never were on them again because they had been murdered, trying to show this jury, you can't believe today anything he says on that sand because he's a liar and always will be.
BERMAN: Let me dig into that a little bit more, the specific moment, now that Murdaugh admits to having lied about is what and why is that significant?
CASAREZ: Well, it's significant because it's his credibility on the stand. If you believe him, he's pouring out his heart right now, gut wrenching, not on opioids anymore, talking about that he lied because of -- and he listed the reasons --
BERMAN: Lied about what exactly? Remind people what he lied about being at the --
CASAREZ: That he was at the dog kennels with his wife and son, very close in time to when they were murdered. He lied to law enforcement from the very beginning. He lied to his family about that, his friends. He never told them that he actually was down there until he took the stand yesterday and that's when it all came out.
And he said look, I lied because I got paranoid. I was the last one with them. I don't trust SLED, law enforcement. And I just said it. I couldn't take it back. But now I'm telling you the truth. Yes, I was there. But I came back.
BERMAN: And we've been watching the cross-examination all afternoon, what you saw leading up to that moment, again, where the prosecutor finished there, it felt like five to ten minutes of the prosecutor asking Murdaugh again and again about other lies or instances of lying that he told and the list of people did you lie to X, did you lie to Z, did you lie to number 3? It was yes, yes, yes.
CASAREZ: Then you have to get the state of mind of someone who lies, who defrauds people. You have to then take that over to someone who would commit first-degree murder, which is a premeditated with malicious intent, an evil person, to commit violence against those that are the closest to you. So, the state of minds are different, right, and the prosecutor has to link them so a jury believes that he had that intent to murder. We're talking massacre. We're talking about blowing the brains out of his son.
BERMAN: And we will talk about whether that linkage has been made.
Hang on one second, Jean. I want to go to Randi Kaye who's been outside the courtroom, has been watching what's been going on in there.
First of all, Randi, do we expect to see more of Murdaugh when they start court in a few minutes?
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I believe so. It's just a short break and then I would expect the defense will go back on redistrict with some more questions for him. We'll see what he has to say. They're going to try to make up some of the ground that state seems to have recovered there, really trying to paint Alex Murdaugh into a box there, Creighton Waters, the lead prosecutor, going after him on his lies, ticking through that timeline from June 7th, 2021, the night of the murders, getting him to say he was only down at the kennels with his family about two minutes finally, and took him about two minutes on a golf cart to get back up to the house.
But there was a key moment he pointed out, the prosecutor pointed out, this 283 steps, a lot of steps, more steps than he had taken all day, in that time period around the time that the murders had occurred or when they believed they occurred around 8:49 p.m. when he was back at the house.
So 283 steps, the prosecutor asked him, what were you doing during that time? He said, I was getting ready to go to my mom's house. The prosecutor pointed out, you already showered.
You're only laying down for a few minutes. What, you went to a thread mill, he asked him. Were you jogging? Were you running in place? It was quite a moment.
But here's another key moment, a key change between the prosecutor and Murdaugh while on the stand on cross.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CREIGHTON WATERS, PROSECUTOR: All right. Let me ask you a question then. What you're telling this jury is it's a random vigilante --
ALEX MURDAUGH, MURDER DEFENDANT: That's your term.
WATERS: The 12-year-old 5'2" people that just happened to know that Paul and Maggie were both at Moselle on June 7th, they knew that they would be at the kennels alone on June 7th, that knew that you would not be there, but only between the times of 8:49 and 9:02, that they show up without a weapon, assuming that they're going to find weapons and ammunition there, that they commit this crime during the short time window, and travel the same route you do around the same time to Alameda.
That's what you're trying to tell this jury?
MURDAUGH: You got a lot of factors in there, Mr. Waters. All of which I do not agree with, some of which I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: That's exactly why, John, Creighton Waters was trying to nail him down on this timeline because he wants it to not make sense to the jury. If Alex Murdaugh was at the kennels around 8:45 p.m. when the video was extracted from his son's phone and it was made, he left, he was gone by 8:49, what happened in those four or five minutes say? Was somebody lurking in the woods? Did somebody come around suddenly and decide to kill Maggie and Paul?
He's hoping that none of that makes sense to the jury, and he actually asked Alex Murdaugh on the stand, John, were the dogs acting up, were they barking? In other words, did they sense that somebody else was on the property? And Alex Murdaugh answered him nobody else was around. There was no one else there, John.
BERMAN: All right. Randi Kaye, stand by if you will, for just a moment.
Here to discuss, Bernarda Villalona and Mark Eiglarsh. They are both criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors.
Bernarda, just -- let's start in a bigger sense. How would you assess how this has gone so far for Alex Murdaugh on the stand?
BERNARDA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: John, this has been completely the Alex Murdaugh show. He took control of the complete direct examination, which we expected, but also of the cross-examination. It has all been about Alex Murdaugh, and he has controlled the answers that even the questions in this case and he's the witness on the stand. He's not even the attorney who is asking the questions.
But this just goes to show you, when you have a professional civil litigator, a trial attorney, and you convert them and they're the defendant that's on the stand, they know how to work that courtroom. He has been preparing for months what his answers were going to be, and he was able to get the story he wanted to be out there.
He had to own up that he's a liar and that he's a thief. We knew that. And he owns up to it each and every time. The one question that wasn't asked, hey, you've been honest about that you stole from these people and you regret all of this, but guess what, you still pleaded not guilty and still have these old charges.
What is the jury to decide now? Can I believe this guy who's a con artist and who's bamboozled so many people that is still close to him? What should we do now?
Again, it's the Alex Murdaugh show in this is courtroom.
BERMAN: So, Mark, you have Bernarda saying it is the Alex Murdaugh show. Did the prosecution score any points? Did they land any serious legal goals this afternoon?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENS ATTORNEY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, the prosecutors were effective at times, but that was surrounded by a bunch of fat. This isn't a lean filet mignon like cross-examination should be, where we're artists, understand cross-examination, creating reasonable doubt, that's what we do as defense lawyers. Prosecutors rarely do it.
So, there were a couple of moments that they had. You lied to this person, this person, on and on. The only ones he didn't lie to is maybe me and you. Everyone else he lied to.
For two decades, he becomes a perfected liar. That was the point that was made. That, coupled with it's not you, who else? These vigilantes came in, didn't have weapons, they knew you would be in the kennel and then boom. Like that doesn't make sense.
But those are big moments. But separated by a bunch of flop, a bunch of fat, which causes the prosecution to lose the opportunity to go for the jugular, giving him an opportunity to explain and arguably look sympathetic. I still thought he looked pathetic, but it's up to the jurors and only takes one to hang the jury on.
BERMAN: Only takes one. That's the important thing here. But, Bernarda, in your experience with juries, how do they respond to someone who admits to lying, being -- a veteran liar, a repeated liar?
VILLALON: But, John, we got to hear a little bit of that yesterday.
So while he was giving us all these crocodile tears and probably some of them were genuine because in the end still, he still lost his wife as well as his son, whether it's at his hands or the hands of another, you got to see and hear that two of the jurors were crying during his direct examination. That's not good for the prosecution because now you have jurors that are feeling sympathetic for the man we're accusing to be a murderer and now he's been made a person. So, you have that human reaction.
So in the end, the jury is the judge of the facts. And in judging the facts they have to judge credibility, believability. So what are they going to believe out of Alex Murdaugh? Of course they're going to evaluate all the evidence, but specifically Alex murderer -- Murdaugh as a person who has lied before, why isn't he lying now? Can I believe what he's saying, based on his body language, what he said in the past, his relationship with his family?
So, they're going to have to take all of that into account in order to reach a decision as to his guilt.
BERMAN: All right. Standby, if you will, Counselors. We're going to have much more from the double murder trial of Alex Murdaugh, fessing up to stealing millions from clients. He's fessed up to being hooked on drugs. He's fessed up to being a liar, but will the jury think he is guilty of murder or did he engender sympathy?
We're waiting for the trial to resume. Much more just ahead.
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
JIM GRIFFIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Have you been criminally charged --
BERMAN: All right. We are back live in Walterboro, South Carolina. This is the Alex Murdaugh murder trial. This is redistrict. His attorney is asking him questions.
GRIFFIN: You were asked specifically about $792,000 in ferries (ph) fees that you diverted from the law firm, do you recall that?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: You were asked about accounting or where the money went. It went out pretty quickly, roughly?
MURDAUGH: Yes sir.
GRIFFIN: You recall testimony over 500,000 went to Curtis Eddie Smith?
MURDAUGH: I do.
GRIFFIN: And what would that have been for?
MURDAUGH: That would have all been for pills.
GRIFFIN: For opioids?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir, specifically all I was taking at that time was oxycodone and OxyContin.
GRIFFIN: And you were -- you were an addict, were you not?
MURDAUGH: I am an addict.
GRIFFIN: You are an addict.
And did you repeatedly lie to those you loved to cover up your addiction?
MURDAUGH: I did.
GRIFFIN: And were you -- concerned that you would be exposed if you didn't continue to lie about your conduct?
MURDAUGH: I did.
GRIFFIN: There's some specific things that you were asked about which I would like to go over. One thing you had referred to, a text message that you had seen later on, between Maggie and Blanca. Do you recall that?
MURDAUGH: I do.
GRIFFIN: And it's in evidence as defendant's exhibit 54. Doug, if you could pull that up please, sir. If you could highlight the Blanca text.
Is this a text message you're referring to?
MURDAUGH: It is.
GRIFFIN: And I'll just read it. It says TY. Is that thank you? Ty, I'm waiting. Alex wants me to come home. I had to leave door open at Eddleston (ph). But trust (INAUDIBLE) to shine the light for me. His dad is back in the hospital. Last doctor claims not cancer, it's pneumonia. She adds some faces.
Alex is about to die? Hope he doesn't go down there to sleep. Alex needs to take care of himself as well.
Is that the text message you're referring to?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: And did Blanca share this message with you after Maggie was murdered?
MURDAUGH: Blanca first ultimately shared that with me. She first told me that, you know, Maggie was worried about me, how much she loved me and she was worried about me. And I texted her.
GRIFFIN: Now you were asked -- you can take it down -- you were asked questions about conversations around the dinner table on the 7th about -- didn't eat at the table, but eating dinner about Paul's health, that is correct?
MURDAUGH: That is correct.
GRIFFIN: I'm going to show you two exhibits, 179 and 180. And ask if you can identify these two.
MURDAUGH: I can.
GRIFFIN: And what are they?
MURDAUGH: Texts from -- it's a text from Paul-Paul to me on May 30th.
GRIFFIN: And then -- and what's 180? Exhibit 180 behind it?
MURDAUGH: That's a picture of Paul-Paul. Paul-Paul's feet.
GRIFFIN: Your honor, we move defendant's exhibits 179 and 180 into evidence at this time without objection, I believe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection.
GRIFFIN: Do you have 179? Let me put it on the Elmo.
Alex, do these text message refer to Paul's feet swelling?
MURDAUGH: They do.
GRIFFIN: So if you'll -- you can pull it up.
All right. Go up a little more so we can read it. And it says, from Paul, and that phone number. That is your phone number?
MURDAUGH: That is. That's my phone number 1227. My feet swell up. It has something to do with my blood pressure. Get me an appointment as soon as it's convenient.
GRIFFIN: What's the date of this?
MURDAUGH: May the 30th.
GRIFFIN: 2021, right?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: And, Doug, if you'll show the picture, I believe this is a blowup of the picture that is exhibit 180. Pull out. Is that a picture of -- that Paul had sent you of his feet swelling up?
MURDAUGH: It is.
GRIFFIN: Is this what you all discussed when you're eating dinner?
MURDAUGH: Along with many other times.
GRIFFIN: You had also -- you were asked questions about your dad's condition and whether he was terminal or not. Do you remember that?
MURDAUGH: I do remember questions about him.
GRIFFIN: Okay. And I think it's the extended timeline, is it state's 530? Is that the right number? State's 520. If you'll pull that up, please. Is it already in evidence?
If you'll go to page 14. And if you'll blow up the entry at 142:54 at the bottom of the page. Is this a text that you and -- and we'll -- do you recall, this a text that you and other family members received about your father's condition?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: Okay. It says, daddy was just seen by the pulmonologist in Savannah. His opinion is dramatically different from the other doctors and thinks daddy has pneumonia and needs to be hospitalized to be treated for pneumonia. He thinks there could be an obstruction but is confident it's almost pneumonia. Daddy is being admitted now and he will have a study done to see whether or not there is an obstruction and his treatment will be tailored accordingly.
Right now, his pulmonologist does not -- go to the next page -- does not believe that he will be getting radiation treatment and, in fact, the pulmonologist says the palliative radiation treatment to try to open the airway is a Hail Mary and in his opinion will most likely not work. Goes on to say, if he is right and this is pneumonia it's treatable and can give the immunotherapy a chance to work. Is that what you're referring to?
MURDAUGH: That's the text I was talking about that came when -- when talking to Jeanne Seckinger (ph).
GRIFFIN: OK. And the -- this wasn't a terminal diagnosis on the 7th, was it?
MURDAUGH: That was a little bit of positive news.
MURDAUGH: That was short lived but it was positive at the time.
GRIFFIN: You can take that down now, Doug.
Stay on that exhibit. Alex, you were asked, if you go to page 46, please. The same exhibit, 520. Page 46. And if you highlight and blow out the 90218, Alex Murdaugh's iPhone shows. Now do you remember being asked about these steps, 283 steps, traveled during this period of time? MURDAUGH: I do.
GRIFFIN: And I think you testified your belief was you were just getting ready to leave to go to your mom's house, is that right?
MURDAUGH: That's correct. I mean that would have been the time I left to go there.
GRIFFIN: And you were -- like you had made some phone calls during this period of time, correct?
MURDAUGH: Yes. The records show.
GRIFFIN: Alex, did you have Maggie's phone with you at any time between 9:02 and 9:06?
MURDAUGH: I didn't have Maggie's phone with me any time that night.
GRIFFIN: Doug, if you'll go to page 45, please. Go to the entry at 85318 to 85532.
What am I missing? Can you -- you're missing it. Go up one more. The one -- no. The one that record steps. And then take it all the way to the bottom, Doug. Thank you.
This is in evidence. This is agent Radowski's timeline that says Maggie Murdaugh's phone, iPhone, shows 59 steps traveled between 8:53:15 and 8:53:32. Were you walking with Maggie Murdaugh's phone during that period of time?
MURDAUGH: I wasn't walking with Maggie's phone any time that night.
GRIFFIN: If you look at the agent's entries, is there an entry of her phone showing steps during any time between 9:02 and 9:06? Do you see any on this page from 8:53 to 8:55?
MURDAUGH: No, sir.
GRIFFIN: If you'll turn the next page. Page 46. Going down to your steps. Is there any recording of phone steps, phone recording steps, according to the data we now have for Maggie's phone at any point in time up to 9:02?
MURDAUGH: No, sir.
GRIFFIN: And had you repeatedly asked SLED to get the data from the OnStar, from the cell phones, to evaluate whether your phone and Maggie's phone were ever moving at the same time? You made that multiple requests.
MURDAUGH: I repeatedly asked David Owens about that information.
GRIFFIN: When you asked that question, were you aware that Maggie's phone had been located, you know, down the road a mile or half a mile or more, is that right?
MURDAUGH: Yeah. I knew where her phone had been located.
GRIFFIN: Why was it important to you to get that information?
MURDAUGH: Because I knew that whoever had done this to them, had Maggie's phone and I knew that my phone and Maggie's phone and my car were never together at any point in time.
GRIFFIN: Now, you had given inaccurate times in many statements to law enforcement in this case, have you not?
MURDAUGH: I did.
GRIFFIN: We reviewed some of those in your direct examination. I mean, one was, Paul getting to Moselle around 5:00 p.m. do you remember that?
MURDAUGH: I do.
GRIFFIN: Were you lying to Agent Owens or anybody when you said Paul got there at 5:00 p.m.?
MURDAUGH: No. I wasn't lying to them. I mean, I thought that at the time.
GRIFFIN: And when you --
MURDAUGH: Most of the times or a lot of times when I gave times I qualified them and say, you know, you can look at this, pointed them to my office, to the call log, to the key card, like we talked about, or my phone or my OnStar.
GRIFFIN: And when you told the agents that you thought you got to the office at 8:30, 9:00 on that morning of June 7th, you were wrong, right?
MURDAUGH: I was wrong.
GRIFFIN: Were you lying?
MURDAUGH: No, I wasn't lying.
GRIFFIN: And when deputy green drove up and first -- you had your first encounter with him, I believe you told him you had been gone to your mom's house for an hour, hour and a half, is that right? He with just-- we just heard it.
MURDAUGH: The last one?
GRIFFIN: Yes, sir.
MURDAUGH: Yeah. Hour and a half I think that is what I told him.
GRIFFIN: Hour and a half. And that the last time you saw Maggie and Paul was 45 minutes before that? MURDAUGH: Yeah. That's what I said.
GRIFFIN: And when you spoke to Agent Green, I mean Deputy Green, it was about -- I think the record shows they didn't arrive on the scene until 10:22 or something like that. Is that right?
MURDAUGH: That sounds right. I mean I think that's what the records show. That sounds right.
GRIFFIN: And that -- were you lying to agent -- excuse me, Deputy Green when you told him what time, how long you thought you had been at your mother's and the last time you saw Maggie and Paul?
MURDAUGH: No, sir, I wasn't lying to him.
GRIFFIN: Were you trying to mislead him in any way?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. Not when Mr. Green got there.
GRIFFIN: Now you've admitted the first few questions that I asked you yesterday, and multiple times today, that you lied to Agent Owen and Deputy Rutland and Agent Owen and agent croft and on a couple occasions about your whereabouts following dinner. Correct?
MURDAUGH: I did lie to them, as we discussed repeatedly.
GRIFFIN: And you've explained that it was this addiction, opioid induced paranoia you couldn't shake? Is that right?
MURDAUGH: That's right. Like I said, certain things, anything make you paranoid. But I could get over it quickly. That night I didn't.
GRIFFIN: You had a bag of pills in your pocket, did you not?
MURDAUGH: I did.
GRIFFIN: And when you got down to the kennels, we're not going to repeat all that, but did you ever see anybody down there, anybody else?
MURDAUGH: No. There was nobody. There wasn't anybody down there when I was there.
GRIFFIN: And did you believe that the information, whether you were there or not there, would advance their investigation in any way?
MURDAUGH: No. I didn't. I didn't think that.
GRIFFIN: Why didn't you think that?
MURDAUGH: Because they were fine and doing good when I left there.
GRIFFIN: Did it -- on the 911 call. Do you remember that the call first went to Hampton?
MURDAUGH: I don't remember that, but I know that now. GRIFFIN: And what we played here in the court and your testimony was
the Colleton County handoff. Do you recall that?
MURDAUGH: I do recall that. I think at some point Hampton might have got played too, didn't it? The main part was to Colleton, the part that was like a minute into the call.
GRIFFIN: Initially it went to Hampton and subsequently transferred to Colleton?
MURDAUGH: That's right.
GRIFFIN: A minute or so into the Colleton call you said I've been up to it now, do you remember that?
MURDAUGH: You remember saying that. I remember hearing it. I don't remember saying that, but I remember hearing it.
MURDAUGH: And I mean, that is accurate. And by up to it, at that point, I had gone all the way up to them at that point. When I first got out, I was close, but I wasn't right at them. I don't think.
You were asked about the roadside shooting and your intent was to end your life that day, was it not in.
MURDAUGH: It was. No question.
GRIFFIN: And you were shot, but not killed. And then you made up a lie to law enforcement about what happened, right?
MURDAUGH: That's correct.
GRIFFIN: Were you trying to protect Curtis Eddie Smith by doing that?
MURDAUGH: Was I trying to protect Curtis Eddie Smith?
GRIFFIN: Yes, sir.
MURDAUGH: I mean, I don't know exactly. It all had to come together so quick. I don't know that I was trying to protect Curtis Eddie Smith.
MURDAUGH: I may have been, but it was just, you know, I wasn't supposed to be there. And then I was.
GRIFFIN: When you say I wasn't supposed to be there, what do you mean by that?
[16:35:02] MURDAUGH: I intended for him -- I intended to be gone. I intended for him to shoot me and I intended to be gone. The one thing, the main -- my main concern at that point was, that I did not want Buster -- I did not want Buster knowing that I had tried to do that.
MURDAUGH: That was my motivation in telling that story.
GRIFFIN: I see.
Did you eventually voluntarily convey to agent Kelly and others that that was a fabrication?
MURDAUGH: I did. I did. After -- I don't know a few days in detox when I finally got overdosed, initial -- where I could function, I think I told you first and then I think I told Buster, and then I think I told randy and John and y'all arranged either the next day or two days later, to come and we called Ryan Kelly.
GRIFFIN: You've lied to your family over many years, have you not?
MURDAUGH: I lied to my family about my addiction.
GRIFFIN: And you hid from there you were stealing client money, did you not?
MURDAUGH: I never -- they didn't know anything about that.
GRIFFIN: And you've lied to your law partners about financial dealings and perhaps your addiction?
GRIFFIN: And you've lied to law enforcement about not going down to the kennels after dinner, but eating dinner and taking a nap. Did you not?
MURDAUGH: I did.
GRIFFIN: Alex, did you murder Maggie?
MURDAUGH: I would never hurt Maggie.
GRIFFIN: Did you murder Paul?
MURDAUGH: I would never hurt Paul.
If I was under the pressure that they're talking about here, I can promise you, I would hurt myself before I would hurt one of them. Without a doubt.
GRIFFIN: Thank you. That's all the questions I have.
JUDGE: Mr. Waters.
CREIGHTON WATERS, PROSECUTOR: May it please the court.
You said that you were concerned when you talked to David Owen about the bag of pills in your pocket, correct?
MURDAUGH: I mean, no, sir, I don't -- I'm not saying I was concerned about that. I don't think I told you I was concerned about that. I'm just telling you that was -- that was a fact, I had a bag of pills in my pocket and that was one of the many things that came together that night.
WATERS: You're trying to tell this jury that as a reasonable husband and father in this situation, concerned about a bag of pills in your pocket was more important to you than telling law enforcement and narrowing the time when you last saw your wife and son alive? That's what you want to convince this jury of?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. Because, I mean, the bag of pills in my pocket was not what I was concerned about sitting in there. It was, as I said, it was one of the many things that was going on. But I wasn't sitting there worried about those pills in my pocket.
WATERS: You were asked about requesting the phone and automobile data and that was because as a prosecutor and a lawyer, you had been manufacturing an alibi to cover your tracks?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. That's absolutely wrong.
WATERS: You admit you were wrong about a lot of things and what you told law enforcement about June 7th, correct?
MURDAUGH: I was -- I was wrong about things. Some things.
WATERS: You were asked whether or not you voluntarily confessed to Agent Kelly, but you only did so after being confronted with undeniable information, correct?
MURDAUGH: No, sir. That's not correct at all. What I was told is, that -- and I believe this came from Randy -- what I was told is that SLED had come up with some information that seemed like it was consistent with my story and they needed me to verify some things is what they told me.
And, you know, I knew that resources had already been wasted. I didn't want them wasting any more resources, and I told them the truth, but there wasn't any -- nobody had presented me with any evidence.
WATERS: And you just testified you told Jim Griffin first, correct?
MURDAUGH: I believe that I told Jim Griffin first.
WATERS: At that time, you didn't say anything about the kennels, did you?
MURDAUGH: To Jim Griffin at that time, no, sir, I didn't. WATERS: When you testified on direct yesterday, you were asked about
leaving the kennels with your new story, in light of the evidence that's been presented at this time, your words were, I got out of there, correct?
MURDAUGH: I believe that's what I said, yes, sir.
WATERS: And you also said during your testimony on cross-examination, that you hurt the ones you love the most, didn't you?
MURDAUGH: I did say that.
WATERS: I have nothing further.
MJURDAUGH: And in saying that m waters -- I just want to explain that answer. He just asked me a question about what I said and I was going to explain why I said it.
JUDGE: All right.
MURDAUGH: As I told you earlier you're implying to this jury and to me, that was about me hurting Maggie and Paul, and that's not what that was. What that was is me saying, I know I hurt my brother, my partners, my clients, many of whom I told you I loved all of whom I cared for. And that's what that was when I'm talking about how my misdeeds, how I hurt the people worst were the ones I loved the most.
WATERS: I just asked you what you said, correct, Mr. Murdaugh?
MURDAUGH: You did ask me what I said, but in asking me that, you're putting an implication on there that I am explaining.
WATERS: Just asked you what you said.
MURDAUGH: Okay. Yes, sir.
WATERS: Thank you. Nothing further.
JUDGE: You may step down.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: The testimony, you've been watching the testimony of Alex Murdaugh in Walterboro, South Carolina. What you saw was a redirect from his own defense attorneys, and then a recross, basically a second bite at the apple by both sides to this defendant, accused of murdering his own wife and his own son back in 2021.
At issue, very much at issue this afternoon, again, is why Murdaugh lied to investigators about where he was that night and when he was there. We're talking about the night of the murders. They, once again, went back and forth over that and then they got into even greater detail about some facts, which is why I want to bring in Jean Casarez.
Jean, let's start with the generalities about trying to explain the admitted lies.
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First of all, in the redirect, because he lied to so many, he summed it up easily the defense attorney asking Alex Murdaugh, it was because of an addiction. And he said yes, and then they moved on.
And then the defense attorney went into these details -- you know, the devil is in the details in criminal cases, many times, one way or the other.
And they focused on, we're talking about the 283 steps that Randi had focused on a little bit ago. It's fascinating because the iPhone recorded the steps that a person was taking as they were walking.
BERMAN: This is -- this is the steps on his phone.
CASAREZ: And these are the steps on his phone between 9:02 and 9:06, all right? So many steps, he said he was in his house at that time, all these steps.
And the prosecution is trying to show, you were cleaning up, you were taking a shower, you were changing your clothes, you were just going crazy because you had just committed a double murder. So, there's all these steps.
The defense attorney says during this time, you were making a lot of phone calls. He said yes, I was and the records show he was. So that shows was he pacing around making all the phone calls? But if you're making all the phone calls and those are recorded how are you cleaning yourself up? There's going to be a lot of blood on you. Those were close shots with an AR-15 and a shotgun.
It's something the jury is really going to have to assess.
BERMAN: And then once again, they're adjourning for the day now. Which means I don't think we'll hear from them again until Monday.
But on the steps, the 283 steps from his phone, but then they got into, again, the number of steps counted on the wife's phone and the point that they're never stepping at the time or moving at the same time.
CASAREZ: That's right. Maggie's phone and Alex Murdaugh's phone, because the prosecution is saying you're the one that threw it out the window to the field as you were going to your mother's, they never took steps at the same time and the 53 steps on Maggie's phone, they may argue it differently, but the prosecution says she was dead at that point.
BERMAN: All right. Stand by if you will. I want to bring back Randi Kaye who is outside the courtroom.
And again, we just saw a redistrict and recross trying to focus in on the same points we've been hearing about and the steps, once again, you talked about before this began, we heard even more this time.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. The steps and those phone calls, again, that Jean was touching on, those phone calls were critical to the defense, I mean to the prosecution on cross, because they're trying to show in that time he was making this flurry of phone calls, John, to create an alibi. He asked him that correctly, why were you making these calls and taking these steps in addition to the joking about, were you on a treadmill? Were you running in place or jogging in place?
But he was pointing out he was making phone calls. Murdaugh seemed to say he knows he was checking on his father but didn't know who he was calling. He also made a strong point, the state did, in asking him close to the end, did you annihilate your family? Are you a family annihilator? Of course, Alex Murdaugh said he did not kill his wife and son.
And the other point that he made, the state, if you had called and texted your wife that evening, and you were just up the driveway as we know it, two minute drive on the golf cart, why didn't you check on them when you were leaving house? Why did you leave the house? Why didn't you go back to the kennels if she wasn't asking your text messages or phone calls, why didn't you check on them? Which was also very interesting.
But again, it's important to note that Alex Murdaugh's phone, John, was showing no activity from 8:09 to 9:02. No activity at all. He said he left it in the house when he was at the kennels and that's very common if he's going to run out briefly he was thinking he was doing, he said, but that is also very curious, something the jury will have to consider, John.
BERMAN: And they have a lot to consider.
Okay. Randi, thanks very much.
And once again, court has adjourned for the day, at least the jurors have been told to leave and they will get back to work on Monday morning.
I want to bring back Bernarda Villalona and Mark Eiglarsh right now. They are both criminal defense attorneys and former prosecutors.
Mark, this time, I want to start with you. And both Randi and Jean pointing out, this phrase manufacturing an alibi, all right, that is a notion that I think the prosecution, those are words the prosecution very much wants to be in the jurors' heads when they go back to the jury room to deliberate.
BERMAN: The defense trying --
KAYE: Any time. Thank you.
BERMAN: I'm sorry. We're getting audio here. The defense trying to dispose of that notion. And explain to me the importance of those words. MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTONREY & FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well,
either he's Snow White innocent, framed like the Mona Lisa, or he's guilty as the prosecution will have you believe, and if he's guilty, he clearly manufactured an alibi. He's trying to on the day in question claim he was somewhere that he wasn't, and that all backfired.
Understand, he just didn't tell one person, he told multiple law enforcement officers, I wasn't there.
I wasn't there at the house. I wasn't there. I was at my mother's house. I wasn't there.
And then the minute they play that video in court, and it identified that he's the person who is on that video, placing him squarely right there at the all right, okay. I was there but, you know, I have this opioid addiction and, well, you know, it makes me paranoid and stuff. I mean, that's a tough sell if you're an that jury.
BERMAN: Bernarda, is this more or less done one way or the other? I know there is more business to take care of. We might hear from more witnesses and then have closing arguments. When you have a defendant accused of double-murder on the stand like this, is this the moment? Is this just about everything for the jurors?
BERNARDA VILLALONA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, for the defense, this is about everything for them because you got to think that Alex Murdaugh took a calculate risk by testifying. He knew that he was putting it all out there. He was putting it all on the line because it's his liberty at stake.
Unfortunately, for this jury and this is a jury that has been sitting for the last few weeks. I think they heard from 61 prosecution witnesses. I think we're on day 23 or something like that and guess what wasn't taking place during all this testimony? They weren't taking any notes. No notes at all. They weren't allowed to take notes.
So just think about it, the tough job that they have to be able to decide through all this evidence that has been presented, all this testimony that has been presented and for them to try to figure out what did the prosecution prove their case beyond a reasonable beef? Could he have killed his family? That's what they have to be faced with.
So far, we hear that on Monday and supposedly calling four witnesses and this is a defense and there may be a rebuttal case. I'm very curious to hear what the rebuttal case could be. I'm thinking could it be cousin Eddie called in to testify?
BERMAN: Let's hang on for a second and talk more about the rebuttal. Mark, I want to address the issue when a lawyer is a defendant, when a lawyer testifies, are there any rules in the legal profession? Is there something you like to put on the stand or don't? If you're an attorney, do you like to put a lawyer on the stand because that lawyer knows how to say things to a jury?
EIGLARSH: Okay. Let me just start by saying that I've been practicing law for 30 years in spite of my extraordinarily youthful experience and I never like to call my clients to testify, ever, because you never know when they're going to be received. You cannot calculate exactly what questions are going to be asked.
If you're going to have somebody testify, yeah, having a lawyer who is smart, who has been in the courtroom, whose lied for 20 years so he knows his way around being able to answer questions that are posed of him that he might not expect, that's the guy you want on the stand. And all it takes is one juror to connect with him emotionally. That coupled with what Buster did the other day, his own son saying his father looked distraught. He looked destroyed, like someone that's a victim, not necessarily a perpetrator.
You get that, at least one juror and he avoids conviction. Sure, they will try him again but he avoids conviction on what seems like a slam dunk case at start.
BERMAN: Yeah, Bernarda -- okay, so, quickly, Bernarda, what is left for each side here? Point what points need to be made still?
VILLALONA: Well, the battle is not over. We know that. We have more in terms of the defense. They're going to finish their case on Monday. In terms of the defense, they have already planted so many seeds and all they need is one seed of reasonable doubt for them to possibly hang this jury or possibly even get an acquittal.
In terms of the prosecution, they still have not sealed the deal because I think they caused damage with their own cross-examination with the Alex Murdaugh show. So, I think they still need to do more. The question is what more can they do? What other evidence is available?
And technically, there is no other evidence unless you rebut by hard evidence what Alex Murdaugh said on the stand.
BERMAN: And, Jean Casarez, I want to bring you back into this discussion. I think people have been paying super close attention to this case but maybe heard about it a little over the last two years. Like, oh, the prosecution has a really strong case. It's an open and shut case against this guy where these strange things happened.
But there is a high bar in many ways. In every case there is. In this case, what is missing for the prosecution?
CASAREZ: I think what has been missing for the prosecution or maybe we can say gaps in the evidence.
CASAREZ: You know, go at it that way.
Let me give you one example.
We didn't hear this today in the questioning but this is fascinating. You learn so much when you watch a trial. With an iPhone, okay, even when it's locked, if somebody is handling it, internally it's moving from portrait to landscape and you know anybody is handling it, okay?
When Alex Murdaugh was driving by, where that phone was and supposedly throwing it out, that phone didn't move. Internally, it was locked and didn't move.
BERMAN: There are some holes in the evidence and the timeline here for the prosecution that they've been trying to fill in.
Jean Casarez, thank you for helping us understand this and thanks to our defense attorneys as well.
Coming up on Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION", the president's national security adviser Jake Sullivan and the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, that is Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again at news here on CNN.
And Sunday night, join Clarissa Ward for a special report, "The Will to Win: Ukraine at War." That's Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern on CNN.
Again, everyone, I'm John Berman, in for Jake Tapper today.
Coming up, one of President Zelenskyy's top adviser speaks to my friend Brianna Keilar in "THE SITUATION ROOM." That's next.