Murdaugh murders: Paul confronted father about finding pills month before shooting, prosecutors say

ByAlta Spells, Dianne Gallagher and Christina Maxouris, CNN, CNNWire
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Alex Murdaugh murders trial
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Before prosecutors rested their case on Friday, they presented evidence in court showing Paul Murdaugh -- son of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh -- confronted his father about pills about one month before both he and his mother were found fatally shot.

Alex Murdaugh is on trial for the June 2021 killings of his wife, Maggie, and younger son, Paul. He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapons charges in the case. State prosecutors rested their case after calling more than 60 witnesses to the stand.

The state on Friday entered into evidence the transcript of a voicemail Paul left his father on May 6, 2021 -- roughly a month before the killings, CNN reported.

"I am still in EB (Edisto Beach) because when you get here we have to talk," the message said. "Mom found several bags of pills in your computer bag."

Cell phone records showed that on the same day, Maggie Murdaugh searched on Google "white pill 30 on one side rp," prosecutors said. The description matches a 30 mg Oxycodone Hydrochloride pill. Maggie then deleted her searches for the pills, the prosecution said.

RELATED: Best friend testifies Alex Murdaugh admitted to drug addiction and stealing money

Defense attorney Phillip Barber showed a text Alex Murdaugh sent to his wife the following day, on May 7, 2021, which read: "I am very sorry that I do this to all of you. I love you."

Later that month, on May 26, Maggie searched on Google "green gel pill p30," which matches the description of a nonprescription nighttime cold and flu medication.

Earlier this month, an attorney who said he was Alex Murdaugh's best friend testified that Murdaugh admitted he had a drug addiction and had been stealing money from his law firm and clients.

Prosecutors have tried to convince the court Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from a slew of alleged financial crimes he had committed and stave off when those alleged crimes might come to light.

The defense has portrayed the defendant as a loving father and husband who called 911 after finding his wife and son, and who is being prosecuted after a poorly handled investigation while the real killers remain at large.

And earlier this week, the defense seemed to suggest the killings of Maggie and Paul could have been related to a money dispute with a drug gang, telling the court Murdaugh was buying $50,000 worth of drugs each week from one man who owed a lot of money to a gang.

The defense on Friday called to the stand its first two witnesses, including Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey who said he estimated the time of death for Paul and Maggie to be around 9 p.m. that night, based on armpit checks he conducted. When questioned by the defense whether Maggie or Paul could have been shot at 8 p.m. or 10 p.m. or any time in between, Harvey said yes.

RELATED: 'Does that mean that I am a suspect?' Investigator asks Alex Murdaugh if he killed his wife, son

Throughout the trial, prosecutors have tried to place Murdaugh at the scene of the killings shortly before the crime, notably with the help of a video clip authorities say was recorded shortly before the shootings.

The video, just short of a minute long, was filmed on Paul Murdaugh's phone starting at 8:44 p.m. the night of the killings, a law enforcement witness testified earlier in the trial. Three different voices could be heard in the footage, which appeared to have been recorded around the Murdaugh family's kennels, according to that earlier testimony.

At least five witnesses in the trial have identified Alex Murdaugh's voice in the video as the only other voice besides Paul and Maggie.

Investigator offers minute-by-minute timeline

The court also earlier on Friday heard from an investigator who offered a timeline of the night Maggie and Paul were killed, combining data from cell phones and vehicle systems which showed Alex Murdaugh drove by the spot where his wife's phone was later found and that he called police seconds after his car arrived in the area the bodies were found.

During his testimony on Friday, Peter Rudofski, an investigator with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, said he was able to plot Murdaugh's movements on the night of the killings through latitude, longitude and speed data provided by General Motors.

Murdaugh has claimed he last saw Maggie and Paul earlier in the evening that day. They ate dinner together before Murdaugh took a nap and then drove to Almeda, to visit his mother, he has said. He told authorities that when he came back to the family's property in Moselle, he discovered the bodies of his wife and son and called 911.

Rudofski testified that while on his way to his mother's house that night, Murdaugh drove by the spot on the side of the road where Maggie's cell phone was later recovered by investigators.

Data showed that Murdaugh stayed at his parents' home for about 20 minutes that night before leaving to head back to the Moselle property, the investigator testified.

RELATED: Alex Murdaugh trial: Prosecutors play video to undermine claim he was not at the scene of killings

Murdaugh turned into the front entrance at the Moselle property at roughly 10 p.m. that night, and shortly after, headed over to the family's dog kennels located on the property, arriving there at 10:05 p.m., the investigator testified.

About 20 seconds after arriving, Murdaugh called 911, according to the timeline.

According to previous testimony, he told investigators on the night of the killings that when he arrived at the crime scene and discovered the bodies, he tried to turn Paul over, then attempted to check Paul's cell phone, and then attempted to tried both of their pulses, before calling 911.

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