These are the names to know in the murder trial against Alex Murdaugh

ByMelissa Gray, CNN, CNNWire
Friday, February 3, 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.

The murder trial of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh is underway at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a small town about 40 miles west of Charleston. The case goes back to June 2021, when Murdaugh's wife and son were found shot to death at the family's Islandton property, known as Moselle.

Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime related to his wife and son's deaths. Separate from the murder charges, he is also facing 99 charges stemming from alleged financial crimes, CNN reported.

Here are the key players in the murder trial:

Alex Murdaugh

Now disbarred, Murdaugh is a member of a prominent legal family in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Three generations of his family over 87 years have served as solicitor for the 14th Circuit, which oversaw prosecutions throughout the area. A portrait of his late grandfather, one of the solicitors, had hung on the wall of the courtroom; it was removed before trial. Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Margaret (Maggie) Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh's wife, who was 52 when she was found fatally shot with the couple's younger son at the family's Moselle estate on June 7, 2021.

Paul Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh's 22-year-old son, who was found fatally shot with his mother at the family's Moselle estate on June 7, 2021. At the time, he was facing charges of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and causing death in connection to a 2019 boat crash that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, court records show. He had pleaded not guilty, and the charges were dropped after his death.

Creighton Waters

South Carolina senior assistant deputy attorney general and lead prosecutor. He has been involved with the case since 2021. The state attorney general's office is prosecuting the case because of the Murdaugh family's close ties to the local solicitor's office.

Richard "Dick" Harpootlian

One of Alex Murdaugh's defense attorneys, along with Jim Griffin. Harpootlian is a South Carolina state senator and attorney whose Columbia-based practice specializes in criminal defense.

Jim Griffin

One of Alex Murdaugh's defense attorneys, along with Dick Harpootlian. A former federal prosecutor, he now works as a state and federal criminal defense attorney based in Columbia, South Carolina.

Clifton Newman

The South Carolina Circuit Court judge hearing the case. He has been on the bench since 2000. Newman has presided over various proceedings in the Murdaugh case since 2021.

Curtis "Eddie" Smith

A former client of Alex Murdaugh. Murdaugh told authorities he conspired with Smith to kill Murdaugh as part of an insurance fraud scheme, per court documents, purportedly so Murdaugh's surviving son, Buster, could collect a $10 million life insurance payout. Smith admitted in 2021 to being present at the shooting and disposing of the firearm afterward, according to an affidavit.

Buster Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh's surviving son. He was in court for opening statements -- the first time he had appeared at legal proceedings for his father -- and is listed as a witness at trial. His father's scheme for Smith to kill Murdaugh was "an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child (Buster)," Harpootlian, the attorney, said.

ALSO SEE: Alex Murdaugh story: Key dates in investigations into prominent South Carolina family, murders

John Marvin Murdaugh

Alex Murdaugh's younger brother. He is listed as a witness at trial and has accompanied Buster Murdaugh to court.

Rogan Gibson

One of Paul Murdaugh's best friends who texted back and forth with Paul up until the time Paul's phone ceased activity, according to phone records shown in court. Paul was taking care of Gibson's dog and recorded, but never got to send, a brief video of the dog for Gibson minutes before the killings. Three voices are heard on the video; Gibson testified February 1 that one of the voices belonged to Alex Murdaugh, which undermines Murdaugh's claim that he was not at the scene when his wife and son were killed. Gibson also referred to the Murdaughs as his "second family."

Will Loving

One of Paul's best friends who was an off-and-on roommate with him in Columbia, South Carolina. Loving testified February 1 that the third voice in the video that Paul recorded of the dog belonged to Alex Murdaugh.

Jeanne Seckinger

The chief financial officer of Parker Law Group, where Alex Murdaugh practiced when the firm was known as PMPED (Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick, PA). Seckinger testified during an in-camera hearing on February 2 that on the day of the killings, she had confronted Murdaugh about $792,000 in missing fees from the law firm. That hearing will determine the admissibility of her future testimony about Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes, for which Murdaugh faces 99 charges separate from the murder case.

Mallory Beach

A friend of Paul Murdaugh who was killed in the 2019 boat crash Paul was involved in. At the time of his death, Paul was facing charges of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and causing the death of Beach, who was 19. Beach's family also sued Alex Murdaugh, who owned the boat, over the crash.

Chris Wilson

An attorney from Bamberg, South Carolina, who has known Alex Murdaugh since high school and said he was one of his best friends. Wilson is noted in Alex Murdaugh's alibi on the night of the killings: Defense attorneys say Murdaugh called Wilson on the drive to and from his mother's house before returning home and discovering his wife and son dead. Wilson's attorney, Bakari Sellers, has said his client is cooperating with police in the financial crimes investigation. In a statement in November 2021, Wilson said he was "troubled, disappointed and angry" at his friend, and that Murdaugh had swindled him out of $192,000 after they worked on a case together, The Post and Courier newspaper reported. Seckinger testified Wilson asked the firm to pay the missing portion of the money.

Phillip Barber

An associate attorney at Dick Harpootlian's law firm who is part of Murdaugh's defense team.

John Meadors

A veteran attorney who is part of the prosecution team. He worked for the Attorney General's Office for four years before retiring from the Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office in 2012. He has tried hundreds of murder trials and was hired by the US Attorney's Office in early January.

Gloria Satterfield

The Murdaugh family's longtime housekeeper who died in 2018 in what was described as a "trip and fall accident" at their home. Murdaugh is accused of misappropriating funds meant for Satterfield's family as part of a wrongful death settlement.

Tom Bevel

An expert in bloodstain pattern analysis who analyzed the shirt worn by Alex Murdaugh on the night his wife and son were killed. In a motion filed just before the trial, the defense asked the court to prohibit Bevel from testifying.

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