The disgraced South Carolina attorney, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at their sprawling hunting property in Islandton, a rural corner of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, on the night of June 7, 2021.
Buster, 26, is among those expected to testify against the legal scion, as well as Murdaugh’s own brothers, John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh.
He sat still and silently behind his father in the Colleton County Courthouse during the opening remarks in his first public appearance during his father’s legal proceedings.
Alex Murdaugh’s lone surviving son Buster (circled, pictured center-right) – who is on the witness list to potentially testify against his father – witnessed father Alex sobbing during the opening statements Wednesday
Murdaugh angrily rejected the suggestion that he is ‘supporting his father,’ DailyMail.com revealed in November.
Buster has remained tight-lipped as his once illustrious family’s fortunes have publicly spiraled since his mother and brother were gunned down at the family’s former hunting estate of Moselle, Islandton, on June 7, 2021.
But when approached by DailyMail.com at the home he shares with long-term girlfriend Brooklyn White, also 26, in South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, this week Murdaugh’s sole surviving heir gave the first glimpse into his mindset.
Responding emotionally to DailyMail.com’s inquiry, ‘Presumably you’re supporting your father?’ he replied, ‘You have no right to presume anything.’
And he was adamant as he said, ‘I don’t want to see it written anywhere that I’m supporting my father.’
Asked if he wished to make any other statement regarding his father’s innocence or guilt he said simply, ‘I have no interest in saying anything. I have no comment,’ before politely returning indoors.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors how Murdaugh first blasted his son with buckshot before picking up an AR-15-style rifle to shoot his wife Maggie twice in the head. ‘It was a family weapon that killed Maggie Murdaugh,’ Waters said.
Buster, 26, is among those expected to testify against the legal scion, as well as Murdaugh’s own brothers, John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh
He sat still and silently behind his father in the Colleton County Courthouse during the opening remarks in his first public appearance during his father’s legal proceedings
Buster has remained tight lipped as his once illustrious family’s fortunes have publicly spiraled since his mother and brother were gunned down at the family’s former hunting estate of Moselle, Islandton, on June 7, 2021
When approached by DailyMail.com at the home he shares with long-term girlfriend Brooklyn White, also 26, in South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, Murdaugh’s sole surviving heir gave the first glimpse into his mindset
Alex Murdaugh, 52, is accused of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul last June at the family’s home. He denies the killings
Only Buster (right) remains alive and free while his mother and brother are dead, and father is in prison
Buster angrily rejected the suggestion that he is supporting his father when questioned by DailyMail.com, and said, ‘I don’t want to see it written anywhere that I’m supporting my father’
Buster was seen walking his two dogs – golden retriever, Miller, and a black Labrador
Buster is currently living in a modest $180,000 condo on Hilton Head Island with his longtime girlfriend, Brooklyn White
He cited evidence from gunshot residue found on a raincoat that was discovered at Murdaugh’s mother’s home following the killings. He also said gunshot residue was discovered on the seat belt of his car.
But Murdaugh’s defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian said it was ‘not believable’ that he could have ‘butchered’ his son and ‘executed’ his wife so callously, describing him as a ‘loving’ father and husband.
Murdaugh appeared inconsolable as his lawyer Dick Harpootlian described how he arrived home to ‘find his son lying in his own blood with his brains lying at his feet – shot to hell.’ Harpootlian said Paul’s ‘head literally exploded’.
Murdaugh, who was indicted by a grand jury in July, denies two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in connection with the deaths of his wife and son.
The trial is taking place at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a sleepy, rural town 50 miles west of Charleston in a low-lying region of South Carolina over which the Murdaugh family has wielded immense judicial and political power.
Murdaugh, center, and his legal team stands as Judge Clifton Newsman enters the courtroom for double murder trial
Murdaugh holds a tissue as he speaks to his attorney Jim Griffin
Alex Murdaugh pictured with his wife Maggie and their two sons Paul (left) and Buster
Indeed, in the courtroom where Murdaugh faces judgment a portrait of his late grandfather – legendary longtime 14th Circuit Solicitor Buster Murdaugh Jr. – had hung on the wall before it was removed ahead of the trial.
Prosecutor Waters described how Murdaugh shot Paul in the feed room of their hunting property at around 8.50pm – first with buckshot in the chest and shoulder, then a second shot to head, causing catastrophic damage.
He said moments later Murdaugh picked up an AR-15 style rifle loaded with .300 Blackout ammunition, and shot his wife Maggie twice in the lower body, then twice in the head, killing her.
Waters added that the victims never saw it coming.
‘They were shot at close range and they did not have defensive wounds,’ Waters told jurors.
Murdaugh claims he was not there and at the family’s dog kennels when the murders happened.
But Waters said data from ‘cell phones are going to show otherwise.’
The prosecutor stressed that phone records will be critical in the case and the jury will hear that the Murdaughs were ‘prolific’ cell phone users.
Waters added that bodycam footage and audio records of statements from the night of the murders will play a key role in the trial.
‘Watch those closely. Watch his expressions. Listen to what he’s saying and what he’s not saying,’ the prosecutor said.
Waters said Maggie was killed by a ‘family weapon’. He cited evidence from a ballistics expert who said .300 Blackout casings found throughout the property have matching tool mark patterns. The prosecutor said that a Blackout rifle owned by the family has never been located.
Waters added that a raincoat with gunshot residue was found at Murdaugh’s mother’s home following the killings. He also said the residue was discovered on the seat belt of his car.
Waters concluded the opening by telling jurors they were assessing a complicated case and there would be a long trial ahead, but that once the ‘puzzle pieces’ start coming together – the ‘building storm’ will lead them to the inescapable conclusion that Murdaugh killed his wife and son.
‘(Alex) was the storm, the storm was coming for them, just like the storms are coming here right now, and the storm arrived on June 7, 2021. They died as a result,’ the prosecutor said.
In his defense, Harpootlian said that Murdaugh’s son Paul was the ‘apple of his eye’ and dismissed the prosecutor’s claims as conjecture.
Alex Murdaugh tears up after the jury was excused and the defense and prosecution teams discuss how to handle sensitive crime scene photos during his double murder trial
Alex Murdaugh talks with his lawyer Dick Harpootlian during his double murder trial
Murdaugh is seen arriving at Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro
Alex Murdaugh appeared upbeat Wednesday as he arrived flanked by sheriffs on day three of his double-murder trial over the execution-style killings of his wife and son at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina
Murdaugh was seen getting out of a black sheriffs van at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro
He described a Snapchat video taken by Paul an hour before the killings showing the father and son.
‘They’re laughing, they’re having a good time,’ Harpootlian said.
Harpootlian said the shot that hit Paul in the chest also struck his arm, indicating that he may have been holding his arms up when he was killed.
Harpootlian said that prosecutors were merely speculating when they said there were no defensive wounds.
He described how ‘the gasses from that [second] shot literally exploded his head, like a watermelon hit with a sledgehammer.’
‘All that was left was the front of his face, everything else was gone. His brain exploded out of his head. It hit the ceiling in the shed and dropped to his feet. Horrific. Horrible. Butchering,’ Harpootlian said.
The courtroom where Murdaugh faces judgment a portrait of his late grandfather – legendary longtime 14th Circuit Solicitor Buster Murdaugh Jr. – had hung on the wall before it was removed ahead of the trial.
‘So to find Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his son you have to accept that within an hour of having an extraordinarily bonding… you can see it in the Snapchat – that he executes him in a brutal fashion. Not believable.’
He then went on to describe how there were no defensive wounds on Maggie because she was shot while running away – contrary to the prosecutor’s claims she was caught unawares when she was killed.
‘Who was Maggie running from?’, Harpootlian asked.
The defense lawyer said his client was hysterical and inconsolable when he called 911 after finding Maggie and Paul.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh was so ‘traumatized’ after finding the pair that he loaded wrong-sized shells into a shotgun while fearing their killer was still ‘out there.’
He argued it was implausible that Murdaugh used two weapons to kill Maggie and Paul, saying it was much more likely the murders were carried out by two people.
Harpootlian also questioned why no bloody clothes had been found, given the gruesome way and close-range nature of the shootings.
‘Where are the bloody clothes?’ he asked.
Harpootlian concluded: ‘He didn’t do it.’
Following the opening statements by both legal teams, Judge Clifton Newman adjourned the case to 9.30am Thursday when jurors will see the body worn camera video.
Murdaugh is being tried by a jury of four white men, six white women and two black women.
Deciding against the death penalty, state prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole.
A jury of 12, and six alternates, has been selected and sworn in for the Murdaugh trial. Jury consists of four white men, six white women, two Black women.
Prosecutors have said Murdaugh killed his wife and child to generate sympathy and distract from his financial crimes, an alleged motive that Murdaugh’s lawyers have argued doesn’t make sense.
But he has adamantly insisted from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times that he was not the killer.
Following the murder trial, Murdaugh will have to face more than 100 additional criminal charges, ranging from drug trafficking to allegations that he stole nearly $9 million from clients and other attorneys.
Prosecutors say Murdaugh lured his wife and son to their 1,700-acre hunting lodge and shot them dead.
The court also claims that his life was spiraling out of control amid years of opioid addiction and ballooning debts.
Murdaugh pleaded not guilty in June, and the blockbuster trial is expected to include wild allegations of dark family secrets, financial ruin and hedonistic excess.
Among those expected to testify against the legal scion are Murdaugh’s own brothers, John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh, as well as his surviving son Buster.
Murdaugh allegedly called John Marvin the night of the murders, and used that call as part of his alibi.
Curtis Smith, who is accused of helping Murdaugh in a twisted assisted suicide scheme is also expected to take the stand, as well as members of his wife’s family.
In total, over 220 people could testify against Murdaugh in the trial, it was revealed Tuesday.
From 1920 to 2006, members of the family served as the leading prosecutor for a five-county district including Colleton. Prior to his recent troubles, Murdaugh was a prominent personal injury attorney in the state.
Ahead of a second day of jury selection on Tuesday, Murdaugh’s lawyers filed a slew of motions seeking to bar the testimony of an expert witness who claims the defendant was standing near his wife and son when they were brutally murdered.
Tom Bevel is set to testify that blood stains on Murdaugh’s t-shirt taken into evidence by agents from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division on the night of the murders show he was clearly in close proximity to them when they were killed.
But Murdaugh’s lawyers claimed Bevel’s findings were ‘unreliable.’
The defense attorneys argued in court documents obtained by WCNC that ‘Bevel’s methodology in reaching his conclusions, and the substance of those conclusions are not reliable.
Murdaugh, right, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Maggie, second from left, and Paul, second from right, in June — but now his surviving son, Buster, left, is expected to testify against him
‘Moreover, Bevel’s blood splatter opinion testimony directly contradicts the state’s scientific forensic serology and DNA testing, which failed to detect human blood anywhere on Murdaugh’s shirt and failed to detect Paul’s DNA.’
Defense attorneys, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, had previously argued that any blood on the shirt was transferred when Murdaugh found the bodies and ‘frantically checked them for signs of life.’
Murdaugh’s attorneys accused SLED of ‘badgering’ Bevel into changing his report.
The T-shirt was later destroyed ‘for purposes of forensics testing by the unnecessary application of an oxidizing chemical stain,’ the court filing states.
A second motion also seeks to exclude blood splatter testimony of Orangeburg County Deputy Chief Kenneth Kinsey, a former SLED agent and a forensics expert, who defense attorneys say based his testimony off Bevel’s findings.
And a third motion seeks to limit or preclude firearm ballistic testimony by forensic expert Paul Greer, calling into question his methodology.
But Judge Newman found on Tuesday that the evidence Greer will present ‘will assist the jury in its decision.’
He said the underlying science is reliable, and defense attorneys could bring up their questions about the value of ballistics testing in cross-examination.
He was seen smiling as he arrived in court Tuesday for the second day of jury selection.
Video posted online showed the once-powerful South Carolina attorney being escorted out of a black police van in front of the Colleton County Courthouse Tuesday morning, nodding to the press at the scene.
A crime scene photo showing what appears to be blood droplets on the floor, a mannequin and an evidence marker in the feed room where Paul was fatally shot
Several views of the crime scene where Paul had been shot were in the court filings
The 22-year-old was shot in the feed room connected to the Moselle properties dog kennels, while his mother was shot five times, including in the back of the head, with a semiautomatic rifle – the pair dying just 30 yards from one another
But the once-powerful lawyer seemed more anxious as the hearings went on, visibly chewing on the end of a pen.
The 12-member jury will hear all of the evidence presented against the once-prominent lawyer, after authorities took over a year investigating the mysterious deaths to charge Murdaugh in connection with the crimes.
More than 900 potential jurors were sent detailed questionnaires to determine if they were eligible to sit for this case.
When asked if they had heard of the case, all potential jurors confirmed that they had, with several being excused because they had ‘formed opinions which cannot be changed’.
Last week prosecutors claimed that a Snapchat video was ‘critical to the case’, with Paul sending the footage shortly before 8pm on the night he died.
Investigators believe he and his mother died between 9pm and 9:30pm, and are seeking permission to call a Snapchat executive to testify as to the veracity of the video.
Creighton Waters, the senior assistant deputy attorney general said: ‘Amongst other things, critical to the case is a video sent out to several friends at approximately 7:56p.m. on the night of the murders.
Alex Murdaugh (center) is accused of killing his wife Maggie, 52, (right) and son Paul Murdaugh, 22, (left) in 2021
‘The contents of this video is important to proving the State’s case in chief.’
The order was approved, with prosecutors not revealing what was in the Snapchat video during the hearing.
The move came as Kinsey described Paul’s horrific wounds, explaining he was shot twice — with a second bullet entering the left shoulder into his neck and brain.
Kinsey said his ‘brain was completely detached from head’, adding that the 22-year-old was first struck in the chest as he stood in the feed room.
The room was connected to the Moselle properties dog kennels, while his mother was shot five times, including in the back of the head, with a semiautomatic rifle.