Attorneys clash over admissibility of raincoat test in Murdaugh murder trial
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - Much was made about a blue raincoat during day 11 of the Alex Murdaugh murder trial.
The disbarred Lowcountry attorney is charged in the June 7, 2021, killings of his wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, Paul.
Shelley Smith, who took care of Murdaugh’s mom, testified Monday that she saw Murdaugh at his parents’ home holding what she described as a blue tarp.
Defense attorney Jim Griffin argued against allowing the raincoat into evidence after Smith’s insistence that it was a tarp she saw Murdaugh with.
The state pushed back by bringing up Griffin’s questioning during cross examination as the defense acknowledged the raincoat’s existence.
When Smith was shown a photo with the jacket balled up in a closet she said that was the item she saw.
A blue tarp was also collected from the home. Photos of the tarp show one side of the tarp to be silver, something Smith said she never saw.
Prosecutor John Meadors argued that the defense brought up the rain jacket through their investigation and he addressed it during redirect.
Kristin Hall, a former SLED investigator, testified that she had collected gunshot residue tests on the raincoat as well as a white t-shirt, green cargo shorts and a pair of shoes collected from Murdaugh on the night of the killings. She also testified that she had conducted a GSR test on the seatbelt taken from Murdaugh’s Chevy Suburban.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
When asked about any testing on the tarp recovered, Hall said no testing had been done to her knowledge.
Smith also testified to several uncharacteristic visits made by Murdaugh to the Almeda home.
Smith said it was uncharacteristic of Murdaugh to visit late at night and early in the morning but he was the most frequent visitor to the home.
Smith said Murdaugh came to the house on the night of the murders and stayed between 15 and 20 minutes. She said he was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and boat shoes and that she couldn’t see any blood on him or left on the bed when he was next to his mother.
After the funeral for Murdaugh’s father Randolph, Smith said Murdaugh came into the room and told her he was at Almeda for 30 or 40 minutes on the night of the murders.
Murdaugh later mentioned helping her with an upcoming wedding and finding her a new position with the school system where she worked, Smith said.
Smith was notably emotional on the stand Monday.
“They were a good family and I loved working there,” Smith said. Sorry that all this happened. They’re good people.”
Financial evidence is in
Earlier in the day, Judge Clifton Newman made a ruling on the financial evidence the state is trying to use to prove motive.
“I find jury entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr. Murdaugh because of his dire financial situation, threat of being exposed from committing the crimes for which later charged with resulted in commission of alleged crimes,” Newman said.
The court has heard from several witnesses without the presence of a jury in an effort to get the testimony heard.
The testimonies continued Monday when the state called Mark Tinsley.
Tinsley was the lawyer for the family of Mallory Beach.
Tinsley testified he had been told Murdaugh was broke and might be able to “cobble together” $1 million as a settlement to the Beach family.
Tinsley filed a motion for Murdaugh’s financial records to prove he was broke.
“The Beach family stood on a causeway for eight days while their daughter’s body was in the water,” Tinsley says. “I don’t know that there’s any amount of money somebody would willingly take to go through what they’ve gone through.”
The motion to compel was met with a lot of grumbling from Murdaugh’s side, Tinsley said.
Tinsley said Murdaugh had been handling and settling a lot of cases and had a steady workload.
“The only way that he could be broke was that money was hidden,” Tinsley said.
A hearing on the motion was scheduled to take place on June 10, 2021.
Tinsley said the financial discovery on that day would expose Murdaugh’s financial misdeeds and had likened it to a judgment day.
The former CFO of Murdaugh’s former law firm testified last week that he mentioned getting records together for the discovery hearing on the day of the murders.
Before bringing the jury into the courtroom, the court also heard from Ronnie Crosby. Crosby is a lawyer at Murdaugh’s former law firm and was asked about a meeting on June 10, 2021.
He said several people met at Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin’s house on June 10 including Alex, several lawyers from his former firm, Griffin, Buster Murdaugh and Corey Flemming.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters had been asking about the meeting since Friday and where it stood in regard to attorney-client privilege.
Griffin asked Crosby if Murdaugh could have considered them all his counsel since most of the attendees were lawyers.
Crosby said he never got that impression from Murdaugh.
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