Alex Murdaugh's wife was worried about money, husband's truthfulness before murders: housekeeper

ByEric Levenson, CNN
Friday, February 10, 2023
Alex Murdaugh murders trial
Alex Murdaugh murders trialState authorities reopening the investigation into Stephen Smith's death after saying they found new evidence while looking into the Murdaugh murders.

Maggie Murdaugh was worried about money possibly being demanded of her family in a lawsuit and suspicious her husband wasn't being entirely honest with her in the days before her killing, housekeeper Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson testified Friday in the double-murder trial of Alex Murdaugh.

"She was concerned about the amount of money that they were requesting in that lawsuit -- $30 million is what she told me," Turrubiate-Simpson said. "She said she knew the amount of money they were asking.

"She felt that Alex was not being truthful to her with regard to what was going on with that lawsuit. She said he doesn't tell me everything."

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Turrubiate-Simpson, who said she was a friend of the Murdaugh family, also testified Alex Murdaugh asked her the day after Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, the couple's grown son, were killed at a family property to clean the home there.

"He said there was going to be people probably stopping by and bringing food and stuff," Turrubiate-Simpson said. "He said I just want the house to look the way Maggie would like for it to look. So, I said OK and I went to the house."

Alex Murdaugh is on trial for the killings on June 7, 2021. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges, with the trial expected to last about two more weeks.

Much of this week's testimony has focused on Alex Murdaugh's financial issues. The judge ruled Monday to allow such evidence, saying it was "so intimately connected" with the state's case "that proof of it is essential to complete the story."

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Ahead of Turrubiate-Simpson's testimony, some Murdaugh relatives were ordered this week to sit farther back in the South Carolina courtroom due to inappropriate contact and conduct, the Colleton County clerk of court said.

In court Wednesday, Alex Murdaugh's sister Lynn Murdaugh Goettee passed him a book through a member of his defense team. It was not shared with the victim's advocate, and Goettee had been admonished just five minutes before that, a source with knowledge of the incident told CNN.

The book was considered contraband because it was not clear what was in it, the source said, adding Murdaugh was already back in his jail cell with it before anybody could check it. The book -- John Grisham's "The Judge's List" -- was later confiscated.

State Judge Clifton Newman also was made aware of an obscene gesture Alex Murdaugh's surviving son Buster Murdaugh made toward Mark Tinsley, the attorney representing the family of Mallory Beach, who was killed in a 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh, Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill told CNN. The gesture happened Monday during Tinsley's testimony outside the presence of the jury.

The younger Murdaugh was admonished for the incident, Hill said. Lynn Murdaugh Goettee and Buster Murdaugh have been warned that any more violations will result in them being barred from the courtroom.

Amid the book incident, Wednesday's testimony was interrupted when a bomb threat was called into the clerk's office and the courthouse in Walterboro was evacuated, Hill said. Court resumed hours later.

Tinsley's testimony continued Friday after ending Thursday with him on the stand. He represents the family of the 19-year-old Beach, who was killed when a boat owned by Alex Murdaugh and allegedly driven by Paul Murdaugh crashed.

Prosecutor hopes to wrap up case next week

Legal teams on Thursday offered a glimpse into the remaining trial schedule: Closing arguments could start around February 23, based on attorneys' estimates -- weeks after Friday's originally scheduled end date.

The state hoped to rest its case by the middle of next week, prosecutor Creighton Waters said, while the defense will need at least a week, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said, noting it could be on the shorter side because of how long testimony already has lasted.

The defense has out-of-state expert witnesses who will require travel and lodging, Harpootlian said, pointing out the length of the state's case is making that difficult and expensive to schedule. The state so far has called 44 witnesses and introduced more than 400 exhibits of evidence.

Harpootlian planned to ask the judge to let jurors visit Moselle, the hunting property where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed, he said in opening statements.

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