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Prosecutor: If You Do Wrong, If You Murder, Justice Will Be Done In SC; Jury Finds Disgraced Former SC Attorney Guilty Of Murdering Wife And Son At Family Estate; Alex Murdaugh Found Guilty Of Murdering Wife And Son. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 02, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: It has been a stunning night of criminal justice, in America, in a murder trial that drew national attention, for the wealth and local stature, of the defendant, disgraced South Carolina attorney, Alex Murdaugh, and the depravity of his crimes, slaughtering his wife and son.

The trial ended, as you see there, with Murdaugh, in cuffs, taken back to jail, with sentencing tomorrow, after a remarkably speedy verdict, just three hours of deliberation.

Then, this.



Verdict, guilty.

Verdict, guilty.

Verdict, guilty.


COOPER: Guilty on all four counts, including two counts of murder.

Just a short time ago, prosecutors, including South Carolina's Attorney General, spoke to reporters.


CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR: Justice was done today. It doesn't matter who your family is. It doesn't matter how much money you have, or people think you have. It doesn't matter what - you think how prominent you are. If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be done in South Carolina.


COOPER: That's Creighton Waters, the prosecutor.

What took about three hours was a long time, and coming.

Now, before we talk about details, of the testimony, and the verdict, and what comes next, our Randi Kaye has a quick look at how we got here.


ALEX MURDAUGH, DISGRACED FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA ATTORNEY: I need the police and ambulance immediately. My wife and child have been shot badly.

RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): June 7th, 2021, Alex Murdaugh says he called 911, after finding his wife, and youngest son, dead, at their hunting property, known as Moselle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you touch Maggie at all?

MURDAUGH: I did. I touched them both.


MURDAUGH: I tried to take - I mean, I tried to do it as limited as possible. But I tried to take their pulse on both of them.

KAYE (voice-over): 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh had been shot four or five times, with a .300 Blackout rifle.

Paul Murdaugh, just 22, had been shot twice with a shotgun.

KENNETH KINSEY, ORANGEBURG COUNTY SHERIFF DEPARTMENT, CRIME SCENE UNIT: She fell to the ground, and that's when the first fatal wound was delivered.

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: His brain exploded out of his head, hit the ceiling, in the shed, and dropped to his feet. Horrendous, horrible, butchering.

KAYE (voice-over): Both were murdered, near the dog kennels, on the family's property, not far from the main house, where Alex Murdaugh said, he'd been napping, at the time.

That was a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that you, on the kennel video, at 8:44 PM, on June 7th, the night Maddie - Maggie and Paul were murdered?


KAYE (voice-over): Murdaugh was backed into a corner. Investigators had found this video, on Paul Murdaugh's cell phone, after his death. It was recorded at 8:44 PM, just a few minutes, before prosecutors say the murders occurred.

Alex Murdaugh can be heard talking in the background. MURDAUGH: I was nowhere near Paul and Maggie when they got shot.

KAYE (voice-over): Despite his denials, prosecutors say Murdaugh killed them, to distract from his alleged financial schemes that were coming to light. He had been confronted about missing funds, at his law firm, and his personal finances were about to be exposed, at an upcoming court hearing.

MURDAUGH: There were plenty of times where I took money that I shouldn't have taken.

KAYE (voice-over): Murdaugh's defense team has pushed back on the alleged motive.

And this defense witness told the jury, after analyzing the bullets' trajectory, he determined someone much shorter than Alex Murdaugh, who was about six-five, likely was responsible for killing his wife.

MIKE SUTTON, FORENSIC ENGINEER: It puts the shooter, or whoever fired the weapon, if they were that tall, it puts them in an unrealistic shooting position.


COOPER: And Randi Kaye is outside the courthouse.

An unrealistic shooting position, he said.

The prosecution came back with a very strong counterargument, which we showed, and a demonstration, actually, in the courtroom.

What stood out to you in all the testimony you witnessed and what's happened?

KAYE: Well, certainly that kennel video was everything for the prosecution, Anderson. When he - when Alex Murdaugh has been denying, for so long that he wasn't on it? And then 10 witnesses testified that was his voice? And finally, he had sat there, listening to all that testimony, he figured he'd better get on that stand, and say, "OK, that's me."

But I think also that 911 call was really important. We heard just a little clip of it, in that story. And that's important, because Mark Ball, a longtime law partner, of Alex Murdaugh's, you hear him on the 911 call. You hear Alex Murdaugh, on there, saying, "I checked them both. I checked their pulse," and he says that later, to investigators.


But Mark Ball, a friend, a fellow law partner, testified that Alex Murdaugh kept changing his story to him. One day, he told him he checked Maggie, first. The other day, he told him - another day, he told him he checked Paul first. That was really critical, because there were inconsistencies. And also, the GPS data that came in very late, GM/OnStar data, being given to the prosecution, very late, in their case, in the last couple days, showed that Alex Murdaugh arrived at the kennels, Anderson, just 20 seconds, before calling 911.

So, the question is, if he checked, and he ran to Paul, and he ran to Maggie, and he tried to Paul turn - he tried to turn Paul over, a couple of times, as he told the 911 operator, and later, investigators, could he have done all of that, in 20 seconds? That was a lot for, the jury, I think, because that was a real inconsistency there. Hard for them to comprehend how he could have done all that, in just those 20 seconds, once they saw that GPS data.

COOPER: That's a - yes, I mean, that's incredibly damning.

I also want to - I want to play that 911 call, which you talked about. Let's listen.


MURDAUGH: I need the police and ambulance immediately. My wife and child have been shot badly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are they breathing?

MURDAUGH: No, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And you said it's your wife and your son?

MURDAUGH: My wife and my son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what is your name?

MURDAUGH: My name is Alex Murdaugh.


COOPER: It's so interesting. I mean, again, hearing this now, realizing he actually did, and a jury has said, he killed these, his wife and son, to hear him, I mean, getting himself into the headspace, where he can make a call, like this, and try to sound as authentic as possible?

KAYE: Yes. And you actually hear, if you listen closely, on the whole call, as I've listened to many times, there - it answers, when you call 911, it answers for a second, and there's this pause. And then all of a sudden, you hear him start to cry. So, it's silent. And then, he almost turns it on, if you really listen to the whole call.


KAYE: It's really fascinating.

COOPER: That's interesting.

KAYE: But he also made all these calls, before speaking phone calls that he was making that night, he made all these calls, even before he left the house, and when he was on his way, to his mother's house and, and over and over, as the State said, trying to set up this alibi, he was very busy at home.

COOPER: Right.

KAYE: He called him a busy bee, while he was on the stand. So, there was a lot of preparation apparently, before this.

COOPER: Yes. Randi, we'll come back to you shortly.

A few months ago, our sister network, HBO Max, aired a three-part documentary series, called "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty." I watched it before I started even covering this.

It is incredibly fascinating. It focuses on the murders, as well as the storied history, and the deep influence, of the Murdaugh family, in South Carolina. As I was saying before, his great grandfather, his grandfather, his father, all were the prosecutors, in this area of South Carolina.

I'm joined now by Ross Dinerstein, the series' Executive Producer.

I've been obsessed with this documentary. I've talked to people, endlessly, in my office, about it. Nobody wants to hear from me about it anymore!

But what - you've done an extraordinary job at this. We just saw a video, from the docuseries, where we're about to show, about the boat crash, involving Paul Murdaugh.

When you were - do we - actually, do we have that video? OK, let's show that, and then let's talk about it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul was being really mean to his girlfriend, slapping her, a time or two, spitting in her face.

JIM GRIFFIN, MURDAUGH DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Paul starts acting out. I mean, he's just doing stupid stuff. Like, he starts driving the boat around in circles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This had ceased to be a joy ride, and had now become a very frightening concern for their safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At one point, like, Paul kept on, like, hitting the - the throttle and, like, Anthony stood up and was, like, "Take me to nearest dock because if you're going to keep driving like this, then I'm going to just get an Uber from somewhere."

And, like, Paul was, like, "This is my boat."

And Anthony was, like, "Let me drive."

And Paul is, like, "No," like, "I'm not going to let you drive." So, at this point, Paul takes off his shirt, like, he's just, like, walking around all buff and stuff.

And then so Connor starts driving for a little bit.

And then Paul, like, he, like, stops Connor, and he's, like, "No, this is my boat," like, "Let me drive it."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some of them were huddled down in the bottom because of A, the way Paul was acting, but also the speeds that they were going. This guy is angry. He's bitter. And I think it became a battle somewhere in there that Connor wanted to take him off the wheel. And he wouldn't have any of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was, like, riding it close to, like, sailboats that were parked and doing donuts, and Morgan was, like, saying how she was done with him. And then he just started calling her, like, a bitch and then he was, like, "You're such a whore" and all this kind of stuff.

I saw the bridge coming.

At the last second, like, I, like, screamed.



COOPER: And what you reveal in the documentary is that at the hospital, where these kids were taken, Paul - Alex Murdaugh, goes to the hospital, with his father, the former prosecutor, for the entire area, to try to manipulate the other people, who were involved, in the crash, about who was actually driving the boat.



And, first of all, Anderson, a huge fan of yours, and thanks for having me on, tonight.

But I would just like to say, yes, nothing that we uncovered ever surprised, surprised us, like every, every moment, everything that we shot, or uncovered, it just made us think more and more that there was just something wrong here. And I was not surprised at all by the verdict either.

COOPER: Well, the sheer number of dead bodies, around this family, in a relatively short period of time?

I mean, the housekeeper allegedly tripping down the stairs, over the dog?

Him - Alex Murdaugh then cheating the housekeeper's family, out of an insurance payment, of millions of dollars, cheating untold numbers of families, poor families, who got $10,000, here, $20,000 settlements, in insurance cases? He stole their money too.

A dead young man, found in the middle of the road, made to - seemingly, based on what I saw in your documentary, certainly raises questions about whether it was just made to look like it was a traffic accident, when in fact it wasn't a traffic accident. He may have been dumped there.

I mean, it's stunning!

DINERSTEIN: Truly. And every time we'd uncover anything, it just it kind of blew our mind.

And this man, there was nothing that was sort of out of bounds for him. I mean, conning the family members, of his housekeeper's - no - his dead housekeeper, and getting them to - getting them to sue the insurance company, and then to take that money from them?

I mean, just everything that we uncovered, every single time, anything came up? It just absolutely just showed just sort of how awful this man was.

COOPER: And I call, this, earlier, you look at this family's history? I mean, it is sort of the oldest of oldboy networks, of the great grandfather, the grandfather, the father, all were the power, for 100 years, in this county. It certainly seemed like he had a sense of impunity, like he, I mean, he grew up with this sense of impunity that they were the power and they could manipulate stuff.

DINERSTEIN: Truly. I mean, everyone in that family thought the rules didn't apply, from Paul and Buster, to the father, to the grandfather, to the uncles, they just thought that they could get away with murder. And that's why I was just so relieved that, in this case, they actually did not get away with it.

COOPER: Were you surprised, Ross, by the guilty verdict, and the speed of it?

DINERSTEIN: No, I wasn't. I mean, I was surprised because, from my work, as a producer of true crime, and other documentaries, a lot of - a lot of times, the juries do get it wrong.

But as soon as my colleague texted me, saying, "They're back after two and a half hours," I was pretty confident it would be guilty.


DINERSTEIN: Typically, to come to a guilty verdict, it's quick. The ones that are complicated are the ones where it takes a lot of time.

So, I wasn't surprised. I'm relieved. I would have been very, very disappointed, had he been found not guilty. It would have been shocking, because of the evidence and circumstances. But I've seen - I've seen a lot of innocent people be convicted, and a lot of convicted people - I mean, a lot of guilty people found not guilty, and they went to work (ph).

COOPER: Were you surprised by the existence of the tape that Paul Murdaugh made, at the kennels, and then by Alex Murdaugh's reversal on the witness stand?

DINERSTEIN: Yes, I was extremely surprised. I mean, we had heard things about that video, but we're never able to get our hands on it, or find it, or know, that it was an actual thing. So, that was one of the first sort of surprising things that came through, as my colleagues here at the company were watching the trial sort of minute by minute.

COOPER: Right.

Ross Dinerstein, again, I mean, this documentary, three parts, "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty," I'm not saying this because it's on HBO Max, it's really, really good.

I appreciate you being with us.

DINERSTEIN: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: We're going to come back with our legal panel, after a short break. We'll be right back.



COOPER: So, before the break, we spoke to the Executive Producer of the HBO docuseries, "Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty," which, as you can tell, I'm a little obsessed with.

And a dynasty is exactly what Alex Murdaugh's family was, generations or Murdaughs, including his father, the former county prosecutor, also his grandfather, and great grandfather, now includes - well he's now the convicted double murderer in the family. Murdaugh's conviction tonight, after just three hours of jury deliberation, a key piece of testimony, as we mentioned a moment ago, the defendant, on the stand, admitting lies, including the lie he had continued to tell, until that day, he got on the stand, about being at the scene of the crime.


WATERS: The second that you're confronted with facts that you can't deny, you immediately come up with a new lie?

Isn't that correct?

MURDAUGH: Mr. Waters, as we have established, I have lied many times.

Maggie asked me to go to the kennels with her. And I wasn't going to go. I said, "I'm not going to go."

WATERS: And how long after she left, did you supposedly go down there? MURDAUGH: It was very quickly.

WATERS: Did you get out of the golf cart to do that?


WATERS: All right. And you had to go walk to where it was?

MURDAUGH: Well, yes, I mean it - a few feet. But I did that. Yes.

WATERS: All right, so how long did that take?

MURDAUGH: Seconds.

WATERS: I mean, we're at 8:46 now. How long did that take?

MURDAUGH: Seconds.

WATERS: Just seconds? All right. And what did you do after that?

MURDAUGH: Got back on the golf cart.

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?

WATERS: And you would agree with me that from 9:02 to 9:06, your phone finally comes to life, and it starts showing a lot of steps?

MURDAUGH: I do agree with that.

WATERS: What were you doing?

MURDAUGH: I was getting ready to go to my mom's house.

WATERS: And that's far more steps in a shorter time period than - than any time prior, as you've seen, from the testimony, in this case. So, what were you so busy doing?


WATERS: Going to the bathroom?

MURDAUGH: No. I don't - I don't think that I went to the bathroom.

WATERS: Did you get on a treadmill?

MURDAUGH: No, I didn't get on a treadmill.

WATERS: Jog in place?

MURDAUGH: No, I didn't jog in place.

WATERS: Did you do jumping jacks?

MURDAUGH: No, sir, I did not do jumping jacks.

WATERS: What were you doing Mr. Murdaugh for those four minutes?

MURDAUGH: Preparing to leave from my mom's house.


I know what I wasn't doing, Mr. Waters. And what I wasn't doing is doing anything - as I believe you've implied - that I was cleaning off or washing off or washing off guns, putting guns in a raincoat. And I can promise you that I wasn't doing any of that.

WATERS: And so, what you're telling this jury is that it's a random vigilante?

MURDAUGH: That's your term.

WATERS: The 12-year-old - the 12-year-old five-two people that just happened to know that Paul and Maggie were both at Moselle, on June 7th, that knew that they would be at the kennels, alone, on June the 7th, they knew that you would not be there, but only between the times of 8:49 and 9:02?

MURDAUGH: You got a lot of factors in there, Mr. Waters, all of which I do not agree with, but some of which I do.

WATERS: Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?

MURDAUGH: A family annihilator? You mean like did I shoot my wife and my son?


MURDAUGH: No. I would never hurt Maggie Murdaugh. I would never hurt Paul Murdaugh.


COOPER: Back now with our legal panel, including jury consultant, Jill Huntley Taylor; criminal defense attorney, Mark O'Mara; and Randi Kaye, who is at the courthouse.

Randi, I mean, they - in the closing statement, the prosecutor really hammered the lies?

KAYE: Absolutely, Anderson.

Creighton Waters. That was really the theme, of course, throughout their whole case that he was a liar. But during that closing argument, he used the word "Lie," "Lying," or "Liar," at least 100 times.

And that was a message to the jury that "This guy lied to investigators. He lied to us. He lied to prosecutors. He lied to clients. He lied to his family. He lied to his law partners. And he is lying to you. You cannot trust what he's telling you from the stand." That was his message.

COOPER: I want to - you know, it's always fascinating, and just give you - Joey, we talked about this a lot of times, that one of the things that obsessed me is Paul (ph) Murdaugh saying, to the jury, "I promise you and I would never hurt," his wife and son.

He hurt his wife and son, for - he was taking - he was spending $60,000 a week, in some cases, allegedly, on oxycodone, and all sorts of drugs. And, I mean, he hurt them in numerous ways. Maybe he hadn't shot them earlier. But I mean he has been lying to them for their entire lives!


JESSICA ROTH, PROFESSOR, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Yes. I mean, he was counting on the jury, drawing a distinction that he could admit to those lies, he could admit to having lied to them, about using drugs, he could admit to lying to his clients, and to his partners, but that the jury would see a distinction between all of that.

COOPER: Interesting, when somebody, who's a habitual liar, turns to a jury? Jill, let me ask you, you're the jury consultant. If a habitual liar turns, to the jury, and says, "I promise you this," does - I mean, why would anybody buy that?

JILL HUNTLEY TAYLOR, JURY CONSULTANT: Well, it's interesting, because usually with witnesses, when they admit things that are really bad about themselves, or really bad that they did? It lends credibility to the rest of their testimony.

But that apparently is not true when that thing you're admitting is that you're a liar. So, if you're a liar, you've just told the jury something that's really important for them to know. And not only is he telling little lies, he's telling big lies. And the big, big lie is really I think, what did him, got him the guilty verdict, he got.

JACKSON: So, one of the interesting things that I think the prosecution did very well, on that cross examination, when they went over the financial stuff, with him?

So, you look your clients in the eye, is that right? And when you look them in the eye, you knew you weren't being truthful, and you took money. "You took money from a quadriplegic. You did that, didn't you? You took money from a teenager." You'll look them in the eye, too.

And they were making the parallel between him looking at his clients, and lying, seamlessly, just as he looked at the jury, in an effort to connect, and communicate, with them, and look them in the eye, too.

So, I think it was a very, very powerful and impactful part, of the prosecution's case, to make the parallel, between the lies he's told, all of his life, while looking in the eye--

COOPER: That's interesting.

JACKSON: --and the lies he was telling to the jury.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT & INTELLIGENCE ANALYST, FORMER NYPD DEPUTY COMMISSIONER OF INTELLIGENCE & COUNTERTERRORISM: But he also did this inventory, which is "All right, so did you lie to Bob Jones (ph) about the money?"


MILLER: "Yes, I did."

"Did you lie to him about this?"

"Well, not about that. But yes, about this."

"OK. Did you lie to John Smith about both things?"

"Yes, I did."

So, while this has nothing to do with the murder, they put him through the paces, for how long, through how many names, to just to show to the jury, how many people, he lied to, about how many things, over what period of time, to the jury (ph) lying is not of second nature to this individual. It's a go-to.

COOPER: Right.

Mark O'Mara, how damaging do you think the evidence about the financial crimes was? And I mean, there's - we should talk about that more. We're going to take a break, after you talk, Mark. But we'll come back to that. But how damaging do you think his financial crimes were to the jury?


MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it was impactful, because it does give that motive, and it does sort of give the, who this person really is.

It was a weak connection between "I have financial problems, so therefore I will kill."

But after all that was exactly what the State had to get to, and they had to bridge it that this guy will do anything, he will lie, he will do drugs, he will steal money, everything that he can do. So, it makes it a little bit more easy to accept for a jury that by the way, he will also kill. And I think, in that way, they bridged it pretty well. Obviously, they did, because they've got their conviction. But I do think it was compelling.

I did have a concern. And Anderson, you and I talked about it, that they may have been focusing on the dollars too much than actual (ph) evidence on the murder side.

COOPER: The question, now, of course, are there issues for appeal? And we'll talk about that when we come back.

And also, when we come back, I want to play you couple (ph) things that the prosecutor said in court, in Randi's piece, at the top of the hour. But the time - here, the prosecutors' timeline, of what the defense is saying actually - claiming was actually happening, you see how impossible it is that there was anybody else involved in this, or at least that Paul - it was impossible that Alex Murdaugh was not there, when the killings took place.

We'll be right back.



COOPER: We're talking about remarkably speedy justice in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial, just three hours of deliberation, to convict him, of killing his wife, Maggie and, son, Paul.

The jury presented with a comprehensive and tight timeline of events, by the prosecution. Take a look.


WATERS: 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?


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?

MURDAUGH: Seconds.

WATERS: I mean, we're at 8:46 now. How long did that take?

MURDAUGH: Seconds.

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?


WATERS: You left?

MURDAUGH: No. Did I mean--

WATERS: Just jumped on the golf cart and left?

MURDAUGH: Well, that's what I was getting ready to say.


MURDAUGH: 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!"


WATERS: Why'd you get out of there so quick, Mr. Murdaugh?

MURDAUGH: Because it was chaotic, it was hot.

WATERS: When you testified you went inside, and the TV's on, right?

MURDAUGH: I did go inside, and the TV was on.

WATERS: OK. And you laid down. Is that right?


WATERS: All right. Before you said, you had been napping for an hour or so, or napping that entire time. And now, you laid 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 does?

MURDAUGH: If I dosed, extremely short time.

WATERS: You would agree with me that from 9:02 to 9:06, your phone finally comes to life, and it starts showing a lot of steps?

MURDAUGH: I do agree with that.

WATERS: What were you doing?

MURDAUGH: I was getting ready to go to my mom's house.

WATERS: And that's far more steps in a shorter time period than - than any time prior, as you've seen, from the testimony, in this case. So, what were you so busy doing?


WATERS: Going to the bathroom?

MURDAUGH: No. I don't - I don't think that I went to the bathroom. WATERS: Did you get on a treadmill?

MURDAUGH: No, I didn't get on a treadmill.

WATERS: Jog in place?

MURDAUGH: No, I didn't jog in place.

WATERS: Did you do jumping jacks?

MURDAUGH: No, sir, I did not do jumping jacks.

I know what I wasn't doing, Mr. Waters. And what I wasn't doing is doing anything - as I believe you've implied - that I was cleaning off or washing off or washing off guns, putting guns in a raincoat. And I can promise you that I wasn't doing any of that.



COOPER: I'm back now, with our panel.

There is this other moment that he ticked through all the things that would have had - that somebody would have had to have been there, exactly, right after he left, in the few seconds, or minutes, that they would have had to come, with no guns, and realizing that there would be guns there, and that they would have left, and taken the exact same path that he took when he left?

ROTH: Yes, the prosecution established a really tight timeline.

I think they had it down to about 17 minutes, between when there's the cellphone video, where the defendant is at the kennels, with Paul and Maggie, and then, where I think the time, when the defendant, left Moselle, to go see his mother, right? That was the tight timeline they were working with.

And I continue to think that was the most important evidence, for the prosecution, was to just pin down that timeline, which made it just seem utterly implausible that somebody else would have been able to get to this remote property, which maybe the jury site visit helped establish how remote it was.


ROTH: And get there at precisely that time when Paul and Maggie would be alone at the kennels, knowing that there would be weapons available.

COOPER: Randi, I mean, you were there. How did you think that played, when the prosecutor did that?

KAYE: I think it played really, really well, with the jury, because they had heard so much information, Anderson. And they weren't allowed to take any notes, during this trial. So, they put on an investigator, from SLED, in the final day of the trial, of the State's case, at least. And that's the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. And he ticked through this timeline, and helped the jury really understand, and put the pieces together.

And just a couple of inconsistencies, as you heard some of them there. But if he was at the kennels, at 8:44, and then at 8:47, he said he left the kennels, 8:49, he's back at the house? That is the time that prosecutors believe Maggie and Paul were dead, by 8:49. He said he went to take a nap, OK? But that was at 8:49.

He took a very quick nap, maybe 12 or 13 minutes, because you heard him say at 9:02, his phone started showing steps. 283 steps, in just four minutes. That is a lot of steps in just four minutes.

And then, he said he left for - to go to his mother's house, at 9:07. So, did he take a nap? He seemed to be sort of backtracking on that.


And then at 9:08, he's - the GPS data showed that his cars slowed down, at the very spot, Anderson, where Maggie Murdaugh's phone was found, on the side of the road, in the woods.

So, that was a very, very critical timeline for them to spell out for the jury.

COOPER: So, let's talk about possible issues, for appeal. The financial crimes, there was a lot of evidence admitted, is that a problem, or is that something the defense can use?

JACKSON: It could be. So, we always go through this, at trials, where one side is trying to admit evidence. The other side's saying "It's prejudicial. It's unfair, it shouldn't be used."

Let's talk about as it relates to this case. As it relates to this case, you have all this financial information. Defense is saying, "Listen, this is not a financial fraud case. This is a murder case. What's the relevance of this? And not only that, it's prejudicial. The jury is going to get the view that he can't be trusted," right?

Well, then, of course, what ends up happening is that the prosecution says, is this is all motive. Their whole argument was that he - they being the prosecution that "Alex Murdaugh did this, because the world was closing in, because he was running amok in finances, because he was about to be outed, that his world was crumbling. And so, he had to kill his wife and his son."

So, if it goes to the issue of motive, it then becomes admissible. The issue is whether it's so overwhelmingly damning, and prejudicial, as to be problematic? That will be a significant issue on appeal.

COOPER: Do the trials for the financial crimes, do they continue now?

ROTH: They can. And I expect that they would, unless the defendant pleads guilty to them. I mean, he's already admitted under oath, in this trial, to having committed, I believe, all the crimes he's been charged with. And so, that would be very damning evidence, if he were to go to trial, on those charges.

Now, it may be, depending on what the sentence is that the prosecution, after consulting with the victims, of those financial frauds, decides not to go forward.

But, especially, in light of the appellate issues that Joey was just referencing, one additional reason to go forward with the financial fraud charges would be on the chance that his conviction for the murders were overturned on appeal.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, you're a defense attorney. Do you think there's grounds for an appeal?

O'MARA: There's going to be a lot of grounds, to try and get an appeal. However, the way the appellate court looks at this is was it so prejudicial, that it caused an unfair trial?

And they always do what's called harmless error sort of standard, which is, was there so much compelling evidence that even if there was a mistake at trial, even if there was a prejudice, as Joey said, to the defense, is it harmless?

Because there was so much other compelling evidence, and with a three- hour verdict, with five weeks' worth of testimony, with everything that we have now seen, and looking through the prism, of the guilty verdict? I think most - I think the appellate court's going to say, "There were some mistakes here. But it was harmless. And we're going to want to allow the conviction to stand."

COOPER: Jury consultant, Jill Huntley Taylor, what are you most interested in hearing from the members of the jury?

HUNTLEY TAYLOR: Oh, great question. Yes. I mean, I think that I would be really curious to hear, what was most important to them, and how they reached their decision? I think there was a lot of talk about motive. And I know they don't need a motive.

But jurors usually do need a motive. And, what did they think was the motive? And what - did it matter to them? So, I'd be most curious to know what it was that kind of crossed the line for them. Was it the big lie, or was it something more, or was it combination?


HUNTLEY TAYLOR: And at what point, really, did they make their decision?

COOPER: That was one of the questions all along of, the prosecution's, the motive that they put forward was, "Well, he's trying to cover up this financial crime." That was always a question.

Would the jury believe that was such a compelling motive that he would do what seems to be unthinkable, which is point-blank, point a shotgun, and a rifle, at your son, and wife, and pull the trigger, repeatedly?

ROTH: I thought that was actually a really interesting part of the prosecution's rebuttal.

The prosecutor said, at the - toward the end of it, "We don't have to prove motive. I think I've proved motive. I think I know why he did it, which is he loved Alex. And he loved Alex more than he loved Paul and Maggie. And so, this may have not forever solved his problems, but it put it off for a while. And so, he did what he needed to do in that moment, for Alex."

And I thought that was really interesting. It was an acknowledgment that maybe the State's theory of motive wasn't perfect, but it was the best they could come up with. And, at the end of the day, they didn't have to prove motive.

COOPER: In this HBO Max documentary, they have the prison phone calls, between Alex Murdaugh, and Buster, after he's incarcerated, obviously. And they're just pathetically sad. I mean, just the long silences. They have very little to say to each other. I mean, the whole thing is just - the whole thing is just tragic, obviously.

JACKSON: Hey, look, there's no right to privacy in a prison. These calls are constantly recorded. It's interesting that that's part of it, because we get to see the dynamic.

But what's interesting to me, Anderson, and what I'm going to be looking for, when the jurors are actually interviewed? They may very well say, "Look, we don't know if that was the motive, nor do we even give it that much weight."



JACKSON: "What we do know is he's the guy that did it." And I think at the end of the day, that's what matters, because every lawyer will tell you that motive just doesn't have to be proven, is not an element of the crime.


JACKSON: Yes, inquiring minds, jurors, want to know. But you don't have to establish that.

So, I just want to hear what they have to say, about that motive issue.

COOPER: Maggie Murdaugh's sister took the stand. Marian Proctor, was her name. And I just want to play some of her testimony.


MARIAN PROCTOR, MAGGIE MURDAUGH'S SISTER: She loved her family. She loved her boys.

WATERS: What was your understanding of Maggie's intent or what they were going to do that night?

PROCTOR: I was under the impression they were going over to Almeda to visit his parents.

WATERS: You encouraged her to go to Moselle?


WATERS: Was that the last time you talked to her?


I just couldn't believe it. I didn't think it was true.

I asked him, I said "Alex, do you have any idea who's done this?" And I said, "We have got to find out who's done - who could do this."

And he said that he did not know who it was. But he felt like whoever did it had thought about it for a really long time.

WATERS: That strike you as odd?

PROCTOR: I just didn't know what that meant.

We would talk about the boat case, and he was very intent on clearing Paul's name.

WATERS: What did he say?

PROCTOR: He said that his number one - number one goal was clearing Paul's name. And I thought that was so strange because my number one goal was to find out who killed my sister and Paul.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Alex, was he grieving greatly?

PROCTOR: Oh, terribly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, people have described him--

PROCTOR: We were all.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --described him as being destroyed. Is that - would you agree with that assessment?



COOPER: That's Maggie Murdaugh's sister, Marian Proctor.

It's interesting that she was saying that, that Alex was saying that his number one goal is to clear Paul's name.

Again, there is video, from the hospital, the night of the boat accident, where a teenager has been killed, and the evidence suggests that Paul was at the wheel, of Alex Murdaugh, with his father, going to the hospital, going room to room, trying to get people to, not necessarily talk to police, "Here's a lawyer that we can get you," trying to kind of massage the whole incident, to take Paul out of the equation.

ROTH: I think that was part of the prosecution's theory of The Gathering Storm here, sort of overall, was the sense that he cared not only about his finances, but about his name, and his legacy, his family's legacy, in the community.

And so, that story is consistent with the story you're talking about, with respect to the boating accident. "Let's just get our family out of this incident."

COOPER: I also wonder how much the drug use - I mean, I guess there is evidence that he was spending this amount of money on drugs.

But how long did - did the drug use predate his financial crimes? I mean, he was using the drug use, saying that's what the financial crimes were raised, "I had a huge, I was addicted to opioids." But which came first? It's not clear to me. And I'm not sure if that - much of that was presented.

Randi, was there any - was there a lot of testimony about that in court?

KAYE: There was a lot of talk, of his alleged opioid use, and this habit of his. And even the defense tried to use it as an excuse, for him lying to investigators that "He was paranoid, and he had been taking so many opioids that, that he just wasn't thinking right. He was acting like an addict."

And he even used the opioids, as an excuse, for when he was trying to explain, when he showered that day, and the whole clothing change, on June 7th. He said, well, he had been in the field, with Paul, during the day, in the afternoon, riding around the property, and he was a lot bigger then, and he was sweaty, and that the opioids made him sweat a lot. So, he definitely sprinkled that throughout his testimony. And the defense sprinkled that as well.

But it's really unclear. I mean, we know the financial crimes have been going on, for decades.


KAYE: So, he apparently has, has been using both.

MILLER: But I mean when you look at what's happening, in the days, immediately before this? Because, we're still kind of searching around the motive that was introduced, but not laid out, in a smoking-gun way.

It's, you've got Alex Murdaugh's wife is staying at the beach house, which I think is her family's, but not living with him at home.

COOPER: Right.

MILLER: You've got the son, who finds the computer bag, with the bags full of hundreds of pills.


In his mind, you may have the "If my wife goes south on me, and we end up in a divorce proceeding, and she's going to testify as to what she knows, what she's heard, what she's seen?" It's something you referenced a minute ago. His world is crashing in around him. And he's thinking, and I'm projecting here, he's thinking, "How do I change these factors? What do I have to eliminate out of this equation? And how will it affect my future?"

COOPER: And what's so stunning about that is it's only, I think, a couple of days - I'll have to look at the exact amount of days - after he has killed his wife and son, for that very reason that somebody, in his law firm, stumbles across a check that was made out to him that shouldn't have been made out to him. And that starts an investigation, internally, within the law firm, that they then start to uncover this unbelievable cavalcade of fraud.

We're going to take a short break. We're going to pick up on the questions of the drug use, and what it could mean, for sentencing, after another short break.



COOPER: Sentencing is tomorrow, for Alex Murdaugh.

A 100 percent in keeping with today's speedy guilty verdict is one potential factor, which we talked about, before the break, Murdaugh's drug addiction, which he talked about on the stand. Listen.


WATERS: How many - how many pills were you using a day?

MURDAUGH: Depends on a number of items, most - most importantly, how strong the pill was.

WATERS: I mean, how many have you taken at one time? How frequent in this time period and let's say January to June?

MURDAUGH: You know, there's a point in time, and I'm not sure when it was, I think it was well, before that, where - and you have to understand this. This is something that I didn't - I mean, I can still remember the first time I ever took an OxyContin?

WATERS: Mr. Murdaugh, can I ask you to answer my question, and I'll let you explain all you want. You know, my question was--


WATERS: --how many were you taking a day during this time from January to June? Answer that first, please? And if you want to explain, I'm happy to let you do so. MURDAUGH: I'm not positive. And here's why. It's because, over the years, as I've seen the first OxyContin, one OxyContin made me literally - made me sick. And that was when I was transitioning from hydrocodone to oxycodone. And it made me sick because it was a really - really, really strong one. And so, you know, one OxyContin pill was like 10 hydrocodone pills. So, but anyway, as I took more and more in over the years, it just, you know, you build up a tolerance to pain pills.

And so what might give me this energy, what - the reason, one of the reasons I became so addicted is, you know, some people talk about pain pills, and how they make them lethargic, and, you know, where they can't do anything, and they feel - opiates gave me energy. I mean, it, whatever I was doing, it made it more interesting. You know, it made me want to do it longer, you know, to go on a drive, it made driving - it just, it just at the beginning, it made everything better.


COOPER: I want to talk about that with the panel.

I just want to correct something. Before the break, I said it was just days after the killings that the first - the check was found by someone in the law firm. That was actually three months after killings.

But as Jessica pointed out, the day of the murders, the Chief Financial Officer, of the law firm, confronted him, had a talk with - that's correct, right, Jessica?

ROTH: Yes.

COOPER: Had a talk with Murdaugh, about what they had discovered, already, the day of the killing.

How do you think the drug use played in the courtroom?

JACKSON: You know? Jessica and I were talking about whether that'll be used as a mitigating factor, in sentencing. And, in English, what happens is when there's a sentencing, there's aggravating factors and mitigating factors. I think the sentencing is going to be all about the nature and gravity of the offense. I think that he spends the rest of his life in jail. Period!

Now, if the drug use factored into the killing, now, that might be in my view, something you can mitigate, and say, "Hey, my client was on drugs and opioids and this and that." But he didn't own the killing at all. He just owned the opioids for a different reason. And so, I don't think it assists him at all, if that's the question.

I think there's no way that he does not - there's no way he leaves that jail for the rest of his life. That's my view on the sentencing, tomorrow.

COOPER: Prosecutors pointed out he said that he was - he lied the night, because he was high and paranoid. They also pointed out, for altering the investigation, even after he stopped using, allegedly, he was still lying.

ROTH: Yes, I don't see the judge is considering the opioid addiction as being a mitigating factor with respect to the sentencing.

I mean, one of the challenges of having the sentencing, at 9:30 AM, tomorrow morning, is I don't think there's going to be an opportunity, for either side, to present much evidence, or do an investigation, of the circumstances, of the defendant's opioid use, and when it started, and why it started, and to present any of that.

But from what the judge has seen, during the trial, it's hard for me to imagine that the judge is going to view that as a particularly mitigating circumstance, here.

COOPER: Mark O'Mara, what are you expecting tomorrow?

O'MARA: So, first of all, I thought amazingly quick that it's going to be done tomorrow morning, because as Jess said, there's not a lot of time to do any type of a mitigation workup. Now, presumably, they've done it beforehand.

But look at - we have to remember the way this judge now looks at this case. He stays impartial, until the verdict. Now, he has a verdict. There is no reasonable doubt left. There is no residual doubt left. This man intentionally and with all malice aforethought, and all these other words that we use, about the intention that he used, the planning that he used, the premeditation?


This judge, he gave us a hint of it, this judge is going to come on that bench, tomorrow, and say, "A jury of your peers found you guilty without any question. They considered it. They found you guilty. I find you guilty now, and follow the verdict of the jury, and you are getting convicted, because of the heinous nature of everything you did. And when you kill your son, and when you kill your wife, you're going to prison for the rest of your life," without question, and no mitigation, even if there was, the suggested mitigation of the opiates is going to change that sentence.

COOPER: Randi, what do you think of the - how drugs played in the courtroom?

KAYE: Well, I think they - I think they understood. I think the jury understood that this was part of his lifestyle. But I don't think they took it as an excuse, for possibly committing murder, which now we know they believed he did commit a double murder.

But Anderson, just very quickly, we say he lied, and he was on these opioids, and that's why he was lying.

But he did one final interview, with law enforcement, in August, just a couple of months after the murders. And he had already gone - he was from - that interview was while he was in rehab. He was clean. And he was specifically asked, "Where were you? Were you at the kennels, earlier in the night?" And he was still lying about it. So, even after being clean, he was lying about it.

COOPER: Yes, he--

KAYE: So, he can no longer blame the opioids, for those lies.

COOPER: He said, on the stand that he had been clean for several hundred days, and was very proud of that, understandably. But he was also lying, continuing to lie all during that.

Randi Kaye, thank you, Jill Huntley Taylor, Mark O'Mara, Jessica Roth, Joey Jackson, John Miller.

CNN's coverage of Alex Murdaugh's guilty verdict continues.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota, is next, right after a short break.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT: Good evening, everyone. I am Alisyn Camerota. And this is CNN TONIGHT.

The jury's verdict was fast. Deliberations took only three hours. Alex Murdaugh found guilty of murdering his wife and son.