Murdaugh trial recap: Finances and firearms dominate Friday’s testimony
WALTERBORO, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The second week of Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial ended today as testimony focused on his alleged financial crimes and firearms from the Moselle property.
The first two witnesses of the day testified before the jury returned to the courtroom at around 11:30 a.m.
The first person to take the stand was Jan Malinowski, president and CEO of Palmetto State Bank. Malinowski has been CEO since August 2022 but served as vice president beforehand.
Before Malinowski, Russell Laffitte was the president and CEO. He was also responsible for the bank’s operations in the Charleston area before he was terminated.
Malinowski said it was revealed during a meeting in August 2021 that Murdaugh owed $4.2 million to the bank.
Malinowski testified that on August 9, 2021, Norris Laffitte asked for the full accounting of Murdaugh’s relationship with the bank. Sometime that same day, Russell Laffitte reportedly put $400,000 into Murdaugh’s account because his account was negative $347,000. Malinowski stated there was no documentation or paperwork to go along with the deposit.
Malinowski also discussed a $750,000 loan to Murdaugh brought up during a meeting with the bank directors on August 17. According to Malinowski, paperwork and documentation dated July 15, 2021, accompanied the loan. However, Malinowski testified that based on the bank’s numbering system, the documents were created after August 9.
Jim Griffin brought up the loan again during cross-examination, arguing that three members of the board of directors approved it. Adding that, Russell Laffitte told the board members on August 17 that Murdaugh planned to sell his farm.
Following Malinowski’s testimony, the court took a short break before Michael Tony Satterfield took the stand. Michael Satterfield is the son of Gloria Satterfield, who worked for the Murdaughs before her death in 2018.
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Michael Satterfield testified that Murdaugh initially told him that he would go after the insurance company for issues with medical bills after Gloria Satterfield died. However, Murdaugh later turned the case over to Cory Flemming because there was a conflict of interest.
According to Satterfield, they were awarded a settlement but never recieved the money. Murdaugh later admitted that he owed the family more than $4.3 million.
The third person to testify was Carson Burney, who works at the SC Attorney General’s Office as a forensic accountant.
Burney said he was asked to trace Murdaugh’s financial documents. He explained this included reviewing documents, bank statements, money orders and loan documents.
Burney testified that in January 2019, $403,500 was deposited into the fake Forge, and $2.9 million in May 2019. Burney added that the money he traced from the fake Forge account and Palmetto State bank was all used for Murdaugh’s personal use and benefit.
The State called Agent Thomas Darnell, a fingerprint examiner at SLED, to the stand, and the jury returned to the courtroom.
Darnell said DNA swabs of a shotgun found at the scene were taken, and the State then brought out the swabs and admitted them as evidence.
According to Darnell, he did not go out to the Moselle property on the night of the murders. However, he claimed he had everything needed to process and test samples from the scene in a lab.
During cross-examination, Darnell explained that fingerprints are not always left on surfaces. “Just because you touch something doesn’t mean you’re going to leave a print, and there are a number of variables as to why,” Darnell said.
FIFTH, SIXTH, SEVENTH AND EIGHTH WITNESS
Next, the State called a series of witnesses to the stand to confirm DNA swabs that were collected throughout the investigation. The witnesses called included Lawrence Wiggins, Town of Allendale Chief of Police and former SLED agent, SLED agent Blake Johnson, SLED Agent Chandler Horney and SLED Agent Jomar Albayalde.
Following a break, the State called Paul Greer, a firearm examiner with SLED, to the stand. Greer appeared on the second day of the trial when the judge was deciding whether his testimony would be allowed.
At the beginning of Greer’s testimony, he identified firearms, ammunition and cartridges collected from the Moselle property following the murders.
Greer then moved on to shotgun shells found in the feed room near where Maggie and Paul were killed. Greer said he analyzed the shells with a camouflage Binelli Super Black Eagle found near the scene, but he couldn’t determine if the gun had fired them.
Next, Greer discussed the .300 Blackout rifle taken from the Moselle property. Greer said casings recovered near Maggie’s body were compared to the rifle. However, he couldn’t determine whether they were fired from it.
Despite this finding, Greer testified that his analysis showed that the casing collected near Maggie’s body and other places around the property had cycled through the same gun. Greer said he came to this finding based on mechanism marks on the casings he believed the gun made.
Jim Griffin and the defense began cross-examination by asking Greer whether he believed any of the weapons he analyzed were the murder weapons. Greer said that based on his findings, he wasn’t sure if they were used during the shooting.
Griffin continued, asking Greer questions about his methods and work. Eventually, Griffin asked Greer if he considered his profession art or science. Greer responded by saying he believes his field is an “applied science.
Following Greer’s testimony, the judge adjourned until 9:30 a.m. Monday.
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