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Alex Murdaugh takes a Stand in his Trial; Murdaugh Admits he was at Kennels Night of Murders. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired February 23, 2023 - 12:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What is your name? OK, did you see anything or did you come home and find out?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Were there anyone else - to be in your house?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No ma'am. We worried.



JIM GRIFFIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Alex, we just heard you say I should have known what are you referring to?

ALEX MURDAUGH: I said - I shouldn't know.

GRIFFIN: What were you referring to?

MURDAUGH: I was referring - guys there are many threats. They didn't take it serious. Think twice about just telling him - I should have known. I know specifically remember saying that but can clearly hear myself say that.

GRIFFIN: What kind of threats did you understand Paul was receiving?

MURDAUGH: Paul got - he got the vilest threats I mean the stuff that was on social media. I mean it was - couldn't believe it. He couldn't believe it. It was so over the top. Truthfully we didn't think anything about it. I mean, it was just so crazy that you know we just - I mean people talking about what he was going to get? And how they were gonna does this and gets him? And I mean it's tough you really I mean - we disregarded it because so over to talk about it so over to talk.

GRIFFIN: Keep going on please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what is her name?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maggie is her name?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How bad? At what time did you talk to Maggie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wouldn't have to go probably two hours earlier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, you said about two hours ago, you talked to them?


GRIFFIN: Well, you were asked the last time you saw them and you said hour and a half to two hours ago. And then she followed up two hours ago just heard that.

MURDAUGH: I did hear that. They said approximately to her questions.

GRIFFIN: When was the last time you saw them, Maggie and Paul?

MURDAUGH: Right after I took the chicken from bubba.

GRIFFIN: And the video we've seen is timestamp 8:44 pm does that correct?

MURDAUGH: That's right.

GRIFFIN: So it was shortly after 8:44?

MURDAUGH: It was. It wasn't long after that because you can hear when Bubba gets the chicken. And it wasn't long after I took the chicken from me that I left.

GRIFFIN: And then you call 911 the records of that but you remember roughly 9:07 or right before 9:07?

MURDAUGH: I mean, I've seen records and seen the transcripts. Yes.

GRIFFIN: And then this is the record of this but this is some minutes into the conversation with nominal one operator, correct?

MURDAUGH: That's right.

GRIFFIN: No one everything we know now was a roughly hour and a half last time you saw?

MURDAUGH: It was that would with the time of how long it took to get to this point having minutes that is 10:10 - how however many you look exactly and see what point this is and know what time it is? But it's between 10 and 10:15. And so I've seen them around 8:45 little bit after.


GRIFFIN: All right, please keep going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were doing that all?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: --asking any question don't blow them out OK? Can you hear them or anything? As you're moving out you saw him I know you said that she was shot in the head but what about their gun?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you told - member?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9431227 - going back to my house just to get a--

GRIFFIN: Did you go back to the house and get a gun?


GRIFFIN: And it's just the gun that you got and how did you load this done what I mean what did you load it with?

MURDAUGH: That was gun as best I can remember I believe I got that gun off the pool table where you heard there were some other gun. I think that gun was laying with that for whatever I'm not positive but I'm pretty sure it was on that pool table would have been the first place I came to.

I'd know I was grabbing the first gun I could get I grabbed a handful of shells out of the - that I could get my hands on. I know that - I know the gun had a shell in it that I loaded and I know I had a few shells so.

GRIFFIN: Have you seen in this case where there was a 16 gauge shelf put in a gun?

MURDAUGH: I've seen in the records and I've seen and heard in the testimony that put a 16 gauge shell in the gun.

GRIFFIN: Is that a 16 gauge shotgun?

MURDAUGH: It's not a 16 gauge shotgun.

GRIFFIN: Why do you put 16 gauge shells in it?

MURDAUGH: Obviously didn't realize what I was doing. I mean I know you can't put a 16 gauge shell in a 12 gauge gun and not - I mean I've been hunting my whole life. I know you can't do. That's not a mistake I would have made under any circumstances other than that night.

GRIFFIN: Why did you go back to the house to get a gun?

MURDAUGH: I just didn't know. I didn't know. I didn't know if wife was still out there. I don't know. I guess I didn't know. GRIFFIN: OK. Please keep going.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything without a place?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not particularly, really no ma'am.


GRIFFIN: Go back to where he said he's going to miles to get a gun just a few seconds back 10 seconds may be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you're outside - I don't want you to get a gun and have a gun or whatever the officers get there OK?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your telecom number?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 9431227. That one goes to my house just to give - I'm about a 100 yards to my house.

GRIFFIN: You said you're about 100 yards from the house.

MURDAUGH: That's what I said.

GRIFFIN: Is it much farther than that?

MURDAUGH: I mean, as you've heard in the testimony is 1100 and something feet but--


MURDAUGH: I said I was 100 yards.

GRIFFIN: You were wrong about your estimate?

MURDAUGH: I'm sure I was wrong.

GRIFFIN: OK. Keep going.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if anything without a place?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know you're outside Mr. Murdaugh. I don't want you to get a gun and have a gun whenever our officers get there OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will not do. That he's been being threatened by my--

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Do you who were threatening your son?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't know the name of who is threatening at all?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your son knows who was threatening him?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I went back down there.

GRIFFIN: All right, roll to the next tape of the same call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 22 hours 13 minutes 58 seconds.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK can you do me a favor of Mr. Murdaugh and turn on the flashers on your cars so that way they can see what I can--


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have your flash - Mr. Murdaugh?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. I don't want you - OK. I don't know if you've already touched them. I don't want you to touch them just in case they get any evidence OK.


GRIFFIN: That second clip starts at 22:13, 10:13:58 and you're asked don't - I mean you're told don't touch them. Had do you touch them by them?


GRIFFIN: And that way you told the 911 operator?

MURDAUGH: I did yes.

GRIFFIN: And I mean can you say exactly during that six, seven minutes when you actually touch them?

MURDAUGH: I know I touch Maggie. I touched Maggie several times but I didn't - I don't think I touch - about two times.

GRIFFIN: Did you touch one or both of them before you got in the car and go back to the house?


GRIFFIN: One or both?



GRIFFIN: All right, keep going, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, I just don't want you to move anything just in case I can get any kind of evidence OK.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Did you start - made reports of these threats?


GRIFFIN: You informed the 911 operator that the caller made reports of these threats? What are you referring to?

MURDAUGH: I mean, at this note if it had been reported, I don't know that. I mean, I don't believe there was any, like formal police reports or that type of thing. But it had been reported in I mean, it was - it was well known.

GRIFFIN: OK. Were you saying he had filed some official report when you said yes?

MURDAUGH: No, I never thought, I never - I've never thought there was a police report or some form of report like that? No.

GRIFFIN: Do you know whether or not he made some type of report it on campus?

MURDAUGH: I know he did.

GRIFFIN: What do you know?

MURDAUGH: I mean, I know that there was a - there was a time when he went to - he was asked to come meet with them. I can't even remember the gentleman's name now. But I appreciated it so much. And I never thought I'd forget it. But--

GRIFFIN: Part of Student Counseling Services?

MURDAUGH: Yes, he was the Dean of Students. But anyway, it reached out to - and wanted to talk to him. And I mean, at first we were concerned, you know, why did they - why they want I want to talk to him? And I mean, even I believe I had Paul, come talk to you about that, because we were concerned.

Well, what are they going to talk to him about but when Paul and Jim got there, it turns out that it was really just - I mean they will want to make sure he was OK. But you know this make sure he was OK. And know that you know, they were aware of the threats or some level of threats and so yes, I mean, it had already been reported to them.

GRIFFIN: Keep going on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's your son's name?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul. I'm on a call. I got a call from my family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Give me a favor me, when I read the officer or the medics because they're all coming to you. Can you put your gun in your vehicle for me?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We haven't come in on your vehicle so they can see you OK? You got the - for me? OK, all right. Whatever you say they put your gun up for me OK?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old is your son?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. We're getting near to you OK?

GRIFFIN: So Alex did you call family after you got off the call with the operator?


GRIFFIN: Who do you call?

MURDAUGH: I know I called my brother Randy. I know I called my brother John. And I know I tried to call Rora (ph). Well, Rora is not family but I called Randy and John. And I called Randy and John.

GRIFFIN: And then you just mentioned Rora.

MURDAUGH: Rogan, we call him Rora - I called him Rora.

GRIFFIN: Why did you try to call Rogan?

MURDAUGH: I mean Rogan's house was like I don't know as the crow flies maybe two and a half miles three miles.


MURDAUGH: I mean Rogan was like family.

GRIFFIN: Did you think he was the closest person?

MURDAUGH: Yes. I just wanted somebody. I wanted somebody to be out there.

GRIFFIN: Had you seen Rogan name on Paul's phone in any way that night? MURDAUGH: No.

GRIFFIN: You call - did Rogen answer?


GRIFFIN: Did you try multiple times?

MURDAUGH: Looking at these records, I believe that I did. But I believe some of those are, like the FaceTime calls that are to Rogan. I mean, I'm trying to call him I don't believe that was me actually. I didn't FaceTime. I mean, I didn't FaceTime people. So that I think that's either me trying to call him and hit in FaceTime or that's me hidden buttons, or hitting the phone.

GRIFFIN: And the state's exhibit 519, which is the condensed timeline done by Agent Rudovsky. There's an indication Alec that at 10:22:09, you opened a group text message from Michael Gun stating, she brought the heat from Miami boys. Were you reading text messages from Michael Gun right after he got off with the 911 operator?

MURDAUGH: I heard him ask that question. I can promise you. I wasn't reading any text messages.

GRIFFIN: There's also an entry Alex that says at 10:40 pm, you did a Google search or Safari browser search for - while your wife and son are lying dead on the ground. Did you do that?

MURDAUGH: No. Whateleys is a restaurant at Edisto that we ate at a lot of times. We got takeout from a lot of time. So I'm assuming it was in my search history, pulling up the restaurant and obviously was trying to call people or dial in and I hit that I wasn't doing any Google searches.

GRIFFIN: And as one of the persons that you dial that night a wedding photographer?

MURDAUGH: He is a guy named Brian White; I saw that on the call log. Brian White is a guy who was in my - what do you call it contacts that is a videographer that I've used in cases I haven't used him in two years. And he's good guy, but we're not personal friends. I certainly wouldn't call in him.

GRIFFIN: So were you. What does that indicate to you that those actions on your phone? What - how do your account for that?

MURDAUGH: Obviously, they're unintentional. I mean, I'm doing something with my phone trying to call people but I'm not trying to call those people. I'm not doing a Google search for any - restaurants. And I'm certainly not reading any texts.

GRIFFIN: I want to ask you--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --Jury wants for a break for about 10 minutes. Please do not discuss the case. JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, everybody. Welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King. You have a 10 minute break here, 10 minute break in a high stakes courtroom drama playing out in South Carolina, Alex Murdaugh you see him right there, taking the stand today in his own defense, repeating that he is innocent.

He is charged with killing his wife and one of his two sons. The defense getting point blank answers from Murdaugh at the beginning of his testimony, "I did not kill my wife and son", he said but and this is important.

He did admit right off the top that he laid to police. Lies he says were born of paranoia and drug addiction. He says those lies that then trapped him into repeating the lies over and over and over again throughout the investigation. Murdaugh at one point even quoting the poet, Walter Scott on direct examination oh, what a tangled web we weave he told his attorney and the jury.

His attorneys then walking the defendant through a careful recounting of that horrific day, his whereabouts his actions on the night in question he showered, said he ate in front of the television. And Murdaugh also testified through tears that when he came back to his property, he did touch the lifeless bodies of both his wife and son. He testifies he found them already dead.

Let's go straight to Dianne Gallagher she is live for us in South Carolina, our Legal Analyst Elliot Williams is also with me.


KING: But Dianne to you first. The defense is trying number one to make Mr. Murdaugh sympathetic and also in his testimony repeatedly trying to present an alternative theory of the case saying his son Paul, one of those killed, I was repeatedly receiving threats.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And that's something that Alex Murdaugh told investigators multiple times, including on the initial 911 call. The first responder on the scene actually testified that it was the first thing that Alex Murdaugh said to him when he arrived there on June 7th, 2021.

But John, look, we are watching the defense try and take the states' case point by point with Alex Murdaugh through it. And the biggest red flag, if you will, that has been hanging over Alex Murdaugh throughout this case is a video that was discovered on Paul's phone in March of 2022.

So nobody really knew about this for a while. They weren't able to get into Paul's phone. It was taken at the kennel in the moments before Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were shot and killed. And up until today, Alex Murdaugh would tell anybody who could listen and we've heard testimony after testimony on this that he never went to the kennels.

And he did not see Maggie and Paul after dinner, but he did not go to the kennels. Well, we've heard people testify. His voice is heard in that video over and over again. And he was confronted by his attorney on that pretty quickly after he took the stand. I want you to take a listen to what he said and why he says he lied.


GRIFFIN: Was that you on the kennel video at 8:44 pm on June 7th the night Maggie and Paul were murdered?


GRIFFIN: Were you in fact at the kennels at 8:44 pm on the night Maggie and Paul were murdered?


GRIFFIN: Did you lie to - Deputy Law Rutland on the night of June 7th, and told them that you stayed at the house after dinner?

MURDAUGH: I did lie to them.


GALLAGHER: Murdaugh essentially telling the court telling the jury the reason why he lied was because he became paranoid due to his opioid addiction. And said, John, the reason why he continued to lie was because he'd already told those lies to people and to families. That is when he gave the "oh, what a tangled web we weave".

Again, that is something that has been a theme throughout this trial. Alex Murdaugh's alibi had a giant hole in it today admitting that he was in fact, there's the kennels just moments before his wife and son were shot to death.

KING: Dianne, stay with us. Elliot Williams joins the conversation. Number one, it's a gamble to put a defendant on the stand testifying in his own defense. In this case, given the way Dianne described and the way we heard the prosecution lay out he repeatedly said he was not at the kennels.

And they had the video on his son's phone proving he was indeed at the kennels. A, did they have a choice? And what did you make of the idea? I lied, because I was paranoid because of a drug addiction.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so let's talk about why you don't want a defendant on the stand? You're putting somebody on who number one can't control the story, they're going to have a prosecutor where you know, in an hour whenever the prosecution comes, that will pick apart every moment of his testimony.

Now, what's a little bit different in this case is that you have a murder where number one, you don't have a murder weapon, you don't have fingerprints, you don't have DNA and you don't have eyewitnesses. So the prosecution actually doesn't have a particularly strong case at the moment, maybe there's an argument to be made for putting the defendant on the stand.

Now, you got a problem, because he lied to the cops. This is South Carolina, and a defendant who has admitted that he lied to the police. And I think this that's a point that jurors likely are not to take very kindly to.

And again, we're seeing his side of the story here, there's going to come a moment when that prosecutor is gonna put him on the stand and walk him through every one of his statements, and it's not going to be good for him.

KING: And Dianne, to that point, again, the trial plays out and we learned late yesterday and then this morning confirmed that Alex Murdaugh, yes, indeed would take the stand in his own defense. Has his legal team explained to you to reporters, why they made that calculation? Was it the plan from day one, or was it because of the way the trial played up to this point?

GALLAGHER: So John, I can tell you that sources close to the legal defense's legal strategy had been telling me since day one, that it was an option that Alex Murdaugh wanted to take the stand in his own defense and look at sort of gone back and forth from he's not going to testify.

He'll only testify if he needs to, but they've never changed in saying that he wanted to testify. Yesterday, my colleague Randi Kaye and I going back and forth with our sources were being told essentially, yes, we think it's going to happen and then no hold off.

We're still trying to make this decision that Alex Murdaugh only himself can make that he was still thinking it over in the jail cell. I was told this morning around six o'clock that it was more likely than not that he would in fact take the stand.