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Alex Murdaugh Takes The Stand In His Trial; Murdaugh: "No, I Did Not" Kill Wife And Son; Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired February 23, 2023 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 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 06:00 that it was more likely than not that he would, in fact, take the stand.
There was a moment before the jury came in when his attorney, Dick Harpootlian, was speaking with the judge. And look, he seemed to be hinting at the fact that because the prosecution can bring in questions about all of these other charges. Remember, Alex Murdaugh is facing 99 other charges in addition to these murder charges, most of them dealing with theft and fraud and financial misdeeds.
They're going to be able to ask him about that, and he has not been convicted of any of those yet. And they seem to say, look, we don't want him to get into this. The judge said, look, they can ask those questions. We'll deal with it as they come, question by question. But his attorney seemed worried he could incriminate himself in other crimes as he was trying to defend himself from this one.
One last thing to remember, John. Look, he's a disbarred attorney, but he is an attorney. He's been taking diligent notes throughout this. They think that Alex Murdaugh is, we've heard people say, charming, good with people. Alex Murdaugh obviously thinks that this is his only option here, to try and convince the jury he did not kill his wife and his son.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Excellent point from Dianne Gallagher.
Back in the room with Elliot Williams. To that point, the prosecution is trying to say this was calculated, coldblooded, deliberate, and that this man is off the path of what normal human behavior, that he was opening text messages --
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right.
KING: -- that he googled a restaurant after he sees the lifeless bodies of his wife and one of his sons. He was trying to make the point in his testimony that he was trying to call friends, and that was inadvertent. But again, they have to use his testimony to rebut some of the powerful, both the specifics, the timeline and that sort of character question. WILLIAMS: Yes, and you're hearing something. There's a term for this. It's called fronting your -- like sort of the dirt in your story. These are all facts that are quite bad for him. The defense has to be the one to put them on the record, because if you give that to the prosecution and have, like I said earlier, the prosecutor controlling the narrative about calling the pizza place or wherever it was or googling things, it looks far worse to the jury.
So that's why they're trying to get it out there. But again, look, the prosecution, what they've got right here is a motive, in light of all those other crimes that they're accusing him of having done. There's a motive there. The problem is that they just don't seem to have a way to link him to the actual murders. And that's the biggest defect in the prosecution's case thus far.
KING: Well, then, the defense questioning again of Mr. Murdaugh will continue after this break. Then the prosecution gets his shot. Mr. Murdaugh due back on the stand in just a couple of moments. We'll be right back after a quick break.
KING: Welcome back. Any moment now, Alex Murdaugh resumes testifying in his own defense in a high-profile murder trial in South Carolina. It has been quite an emotional day. In his testimony a bit earlier, Murdaugh, adamant. He did not shoot his wife or his son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM GRIFFIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Mr. Murdaugh, did you take this gun or any gun like it and blow your son's brains out on June 7 or any day or any time?
ALEX MURDAUGH, KILLED WIFE AND SON: No, I did not.
GRIFFIN: Did you shoot a 300 blackout into her head, causing her death?
MURDAUGH: Mr. Griffin, I didn't shoot my wife or my son any time. Ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Elliott Williams, Dianne Gallagher are still with us. CNN's Jean Casarez also joins our coverage. And Jean, you've covered a lot of trials, and when you put a defendant on the stand, you're taking a risk. Sometimes you build up a timeline and then you ask the question, did you do it right out of the box? The defense attorneys asked Alex Murdaugh, what did you make of that?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they got right to the heart of it, and they also got to the heart of all the lies, because there have been a lot of lies that the prosecution has brought out in this case. The most important lie of all is the one that he said he was never down at the kennels close in time to when the murders happened.
And he now admitted it. And he admitted it saying, I was on drugs. And we know he had an addiction. We've heard about that through the majority of this trial. And he said I would develop a paranoia. And at that moment, there was a paranoia, and I did not tell the truth that I had been down there.
What's interesting about that is that, remember, he is talking to a jury. And that jury, they have friends, they have relatives, they have lives. How many of them have been touched by someone that had an addiction? And if so, did that addiction produce lies from those friends or family members?
So some jurors may understand what he's saying, others may not take it as fact and think that's just an excuse. But I think it's an important point. But it's his credibility that is on the line right now, because the jury can't take notes, they can just watch and listen. And now they're looking at him very close. I don't think they're too far away from him and really judging everything he says with a credibility factor.
KING: And Dianne Gallagher, you've been there throughout this trial and in the examination, you see people coming back into the courtroom. Forgive me, Dianne, if I have to interrupt you and get back to the testimony. They kept playing and interrupting the 911 call Mr. Murdaugh placed from the kennels when he returned and found the bodies.
The prosecution is -- never mind. Let's listen to the judge. Let's take us inside the -- on the witness stand as the jury comes in, we'll just listen and -- they get a 10-minute break. The judge is giving them time to walk out in the middle of this wow testimony. (Technical issue) and as a juror, this also must be a dramatic day in your trial.
WILLIAMS: It's a dramatic day. And to underscore Jean's point about addiction being compelling to juries, what lawyers do -- and either side, prosecution or defense, is try to connect with the people that they're telling this story to. And that's actually an incredibly humanizing aspect of Mr. Murdaugh story.
Now, again, so lied to the cops, and that's also something that I think you're going to hear about in a little bit. But this was certainly a fact that, you know, that I think the defense was quite deliberate in putting on the record and in crafting their story.
KING: And Dianne, as we wait, I was asking the question about they kept playing -- I'm sorry, interrupt again. Here we go. Back to the proceedings.
GRIFFIN: Alex, you've talked about going to Paul's body and Maggie's body, do you recall getting blood on you, on your hands or any part of you?
MURDAUGH: Yes. GRIFFIN: Do you know with -- whose blood you would have gotten on you?
MURDAUGH: I know I got blood on my fingertips.
GRIFFIN: Can you differentiate whether it was Maggie or Paul?
MURDAUGH: Probably both.
MURDAUGH: That was so much blood.
GRIFFIN: Turns out there was a drop of blood on the steering wheel of suburban. Do you know how that got there?
MURDAUGH: I mean, if it was fresh, I put it there. If it was not fresh, I mean, Maggie drove my car all the time, but I assume it got there from me touching Maggie and then touching the stand wheel that night.
GRIFFIN: And then I think maybe there's possibly blood on this gun, maybe not. I mean, do you know if you got transferred blood on anything else that night?
MURDAUGH: If Maggie's blood is on that gun, then I put it there. I mean, Maggie didn't really fool with guns other than put them up.
GRIFFIN: There's -- did you submit to a GSR examination that night?
MURDAUGH: Yes, that's what I was talking about earlier. And Brian Bornedo (ph) testified about.
GRIFFIN: Where your hands were swabbed?
MURDAUGH: That's right.
GRIFFIN: And then your clothes were collected by -- I don't want to say no one or someone else.
MURDAUGH: That's correct.
GRIFFIN: And turns out there's GSR on your shirt and on your shorts. And did you handle this gun? This is --
GRIFFIN: This is item 22 that --
MURDAUGH: Yes. I had -- I basically had that gun with me until I put it up against my car. When the police officer, I think it was Mr. Green got there, I put it against my car.
GRIFFIN: Where -- and I think, Nolan (ph) who testified that this is, you know, one of the shotguns Paul like to use?
MURDAUGH: It is. GRIFFIN: Was he meticulous about cleaning his guns?
MURDAUGH: No. Now, when he cleaned it, he was meticulous about it, but it was far and few between when he actually cleaned them.
GRIFFIN: Your shirt went through testing and analysis, and you were part of this case, provided results of that, were you not?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir. I mean, I wouldn't provided at the time. I've seen them --
MURDAUGH: -- get -- seen all these records.
GRIFFIN: Do you -- just let me ask you, did you get on your shirt high velocity blood spatter from being within a distance of a shooting Maggie or Paul?
MURDAUGH: There's no way that I had high velocity blood spatter on me.
GRIFFIN: Have you seen reports that said that at one point in time?
MURDAUGH: I have seen reports that said that.
GRIFFIN: Just to be clear, were you anywhere in the vicinity when Paul and Maggie were shot?
MURDAUGH: I was nowhere near Paul and Maggie when they got shot.
GRIFFIN: After SLED collected your clothing that night at the main residence at Moselle, did you remember changing in? Did you remember what you changed into?
MURDAUGH: Do I remember?
GRIFFIN: Yes, yes.
MURDAUGH: I know I change clothes, and I've learned since then what I had on, but I don't.
GRIFFIN: You don't remember? OK.
MURDAUGH: I don't remember that at all. But I understand I had on athletic shorts and a t-shirt.
GRIFFIN: Sure. And other people have talked about this, I'm not going to repeat it, but where did you spend the night or where did you go to after leaving Moselle when you left for the evening?
MURDAUGH: We went to Almeda (ph) to -- we went to my mom and dad's house and we stayed there.
GRIFFIN: And who went with you?
MURDAUGH: I believe that Bus and Brooklyn and I rode together. John Marvin might have been with us. I know John Marvin stayed at Almeda with us. I just don't know if he rode in the same car we rode in. But I know I rode with Buster and Brooklyn. I know that for a fact.
GRIFFIN: And the next morning, what did you do? And I -- we're talking about daylight hours on June 8, what did you do?
MURDAUGH: And we'd basically got up and came back to Moselle.
GRIFFIN: Do you remember roughly what time you got to Moselle?
MURDAUGH: I don't remember. No, I don't remember what time. You know, there's things I remember about that morning, but I don't remember exactly what time we left.
GRIFFIN: And Alex, we'll get to this more detail, but during that period of time, is it hard to remember times -- what time things started and stopped and how long things took?
MURDAUGH: I mean, it's definitely hard to remember. Now, looking at these timelines and all these records, I mean, it sure helps, but to just do it off the top of my head is very difficult,.
GRIFFIN: Thena we'll get to more of that. When you went back to Moselle on the morning of June 8, do you know whether you took a shower there or took a shower at Almeda or took a shower at all?
MURDAUGH: No, I know we took a shower at Moselle. I did not take a shower before I left Almeda. We basically got up and went to Moselle. Maggie's mom and dad.
GRIFFIN: They were there.
MURDAUGH: They were coming. I tell them. I see them. We got up, I mean, we got up from Almeda and we left and we went to Moselle.
GRIFFIN: Ans do you even recall SLED coming in and searching the house for anything on the 8th?
MURDAUGH: I knew that -- I mean, I knew they were doing it, yes. I knew they were doing it.
MURDAUGH: But I don't remember -- I wasn't out in that gun room and I'll see all that video and all that, but I knew SLED, yes, was coming in there. I mean, we made -- we made the house available for them to come in there. So I mean, I can't tell you details, but, yes, I remember it.
GRIFFIN: Did you, at one point, just tell SLED they had cart blocks to search anywhere, any time? MURDAUGH: I told SLED they could do anything anywhere, anytime that they wanted to. Anything to do with me, my property, my cars, even though I didn't own the cars. I would get my law firm on the cars. I would have the people -- they had full -- whatever they wanted. They were welcome too.
GRIFFIN: And did you have any discussions with David Owen, or anybody at SLED about consenting to General Motors to get data off the car?
MURDAUGH: Every time that I talked to David Owen, I would ask him about getting on star data and GPS data from phones.
GRIFFIN: And why was it important to you to get on star data and GPS data from the phone?
MURDAUGH: To confirm where I was staying, I went, what I did, GPS, you know, at that point in time, I knew that Maggie's phone had been taken and I knew that my suburban and my phone and Maggie's phone never crossed paths.
And that was extremely important to me, and I asked him about it every single time we talk. Every single time.
GRIFFIN: And speaking of Maggie phone, did you know her password to her phone?
MURDAUGH: Yes, I knew her password.
GRIFFIN: Do you know her password to her computer?
GRIFFIN: Did she know your password?
GRIFFIN: OK. And when Maggie's phone was located on the side of the road, did you provide SLED the password to her phone?
MURDAUGH: I did. I think I actually provided it to John Marvin, who provided it to SLED, but I'm the one who gave it to him.
GRIFFIN: Right. And your knowledge that Maggie's have -- these location services on her phone, she use them frequently.
MURDAUGH: All the time. One of Maggie's things that she liked to do was there's an app called Find My Friends that you can see what other people are doing and they can see what you're doing. Maggie loved me, Bus, Pawpaw, Brooklyn, grandma, Papti (ph), Marion (ph), the three girls, Lizzy, and there were a few others.
But the people that were closest to her, she had them all in her phone. And she loved to look at that phone and see where people are. And she'd love to surprise you, like, let's say you're at Walmart. She looks on there, and she'd love to text you and get me a TV from Walmart or something. You know, like, she follow you and see where you were. She used it all the time. And so, you know, I just knew that there would be GPS data on Maggie's phone.
GRIFFIN: Alex, when you're being interviewed on the night of June 7 and again on June the 10th, what was your understanding as to why they were interviewing you? Why were you being interviewed?
MURDAUGH: On June 7 -- in June the 10th?
GRIFFIN: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection your honor (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the question again?
GRIFFIN: What is his understanding of why SLED was interviewing him on the night of June the 7th and again on June the 10th?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the basis for the objection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 401 and 402, Your Honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relevance, Your Honor, his understanding is not important. What he said is important, Your Honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, response.
GRIFFIN: Well, I can -- it goes to his, you know, his -- it goes his state of mind. I mean, that's what it goes to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sustained.
GRIFFIN: All right. Did -- why was it important to you to be able to get data from the suburban, data from your phone, and data from Maggie's phone?
MURDAUGH: I knew -- at that point in time, I knew since I was the person who found Pawpaw and Mags, that I was a suspect. I mean, they kept talking about this circle, but, I mean, I knew that it was very important for me to find out to get that.
GRIFFIN: And what was your belief as to that information? What would it have done for you?
MURDAUGH: There's no question in there that it would demonstrate that I couldn't have done this.
GRIFFIN: And when was the data from General Motors off that suburban finally obtained?
MURDAUGH: It was either this past Saturday or the Saturday before that, according to what was said in this courtroom.
GRIFFIN: During this trial?
GRIFFIN: And to your knowledge, was GPS data able to be located off Maggie's phone?
MURDAUGH: Not -- I mean, not just to my knowledge, it was not able to be gotten. The testimony was in here that it couldn't be gotten. It only went back to June 9th. Everything before that was erased on Maggie's phone.
GRIFFIN: Now, when starting June the 8th, when that Moselle -- did a lot of people come to support you, be with you on June the 8th?
MURDAUGH: On June the 8th?
GRIFFIN: Yes, sir.
MURDAUGH: Like the next day?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir. A lot of people.
GRIFFIN: And you mentioned your -- Maggie's parents and family came as well?
MURDAUGH: Yes, sir.
GRIFFIN: From from that moment, June 8th, when folks family came to Moselle and you met with them, were you left alone by any of your family members? The rest of the --
MURDAUGH: No, I mean, I was attached to Buster at the hill. But, I mean --
GRIFFIN: What had happened on --
MURDAUGH: I wasn't.
GRIFFIN: What happened on June the 10th, besides being interviewed by SLED?
MURDAUGH: My dad died.
GRIFFIN: All right.
MURDAUGH: My dad passed.
GRIFFIN: Where did you stay and with whom did you stay on the night June the 8th, the night of June the 9th, the night of June the 10th?
MURDAUGH: On the night of June -- you asked me to start on the 8th?
GRIFFIN: The 8th, yes, sir.
MURDAUGH: Starting on the 8th, I stayed with Buster every night. I stayed with Buster, and as long as Brooklyn was there, I stayed with Buster and Brooklyn. But we stayed with -- we -- I'm pretty sure that's beginning on the 8th, I know the 7th, we stayed at Almeda, and I believe on the 8th, we started staying at John Marvin and Lizzy's at Greenfield.
GRIFFIN: And how far --
MURDAUGH: Which is --
GRIFFIN: How far is Greenfield from Almeda?
MURDAUGH: As the crow flies, I mean, it's no distance. It's less than five minutes. It's probably a couple of few minutes away.
GRIFFIN: And who stayed there? Did John Marvin and his wife Liz stay there as well?
MURDAUGH: Yes, John and Lizzy -- all right, John and Lizzy stayed there, and their kids, Bus and Brooklyn and I. I know Bob and Maymay (ph) stayed there. Well, Lizzy's mom and daddy stayed there, and my daddy's best friend and his wife came in there. I believe they came before my daddy passed. I know they came after he passed and stayed there.
GRIFFIN: And how many nights do you recall staying there at Greenfield?
MURDAUGH: So I stayed at Greenfield -- the 7th was a Monday, I stayed Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Greenfield. I know that for a fact.
GRIFFIN: And that Maggie and Paul's funeral was Saturday, is that right?
MURDAUGH: No, I heard that in this courtroom say it was Saturday, but --
GRIFFIN: So the memorial services?
MURDAUGH: No, their funeral was on Friday.
GRIFFIN: That was on Friday.
MURDAUGH: I know that for a fact, too.
GRIFFIN: And then your father's funeral is on Sunday.
MURDAUGH: My father's funeral is on Sunday, and it was my father's funeral -- I forget the term. But Sunday, that's when we put Papa and the Mags, that's when we buried them. When we had the service on Friday, because I don't think they were done.