Jurors in the South Carolina double-murder trial of Alex Murd heard evidence Tuesday that gunshot residue was found inside a mold found in his mother’s home three months after his wife and son were killed.
The judge’s decision to allow the testimony was the second victory for prosecutors in as many days. On Monday, Judge Clifton Newman allowed prosecutors to call witnesses to testify that Murdo stole money from his law firm and clients and committed other financial crimes long before the murders.
Later Tuesday, one of Murdo’s law partners testified about how his firm learned Murdo was stealing money, and about trying to collect birdshot from the shooting scene on Murdo’s family property the day after Murdo died, but stopped because the blood made them sick. still around after the agents left the crime scene.
Murdoch, 54, is on trial for shooting his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, on June 7, 2021, outside the kennel at their home. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.
Defense attorneys asked the judge not to testify further about the cloak after the caretaker of Murdo’s sick mother testified she saw him bring “something blue, like a tarp” to his mother’s house nine days after the murder.
Four months after the murder, state agents obtained a search warrant and found a tarp as well as a blue raincoat.
State Law Enforcement Agent Megan Fletcher said she found a large amount of gunshot residue inside the jacket and said it was consistent with either being fired from a gun that was worn inside out or being wrapped around a recently fired weapon. The trial ended on Tuesday before she could be questioned.
The lawyers said prosecutors failed to link the jacket to Murd because of the warden’s confusing testimony and that it would be unfair and harmful to his case to allow state agents to testify about what the jacket inspection revealed. Witnesses testified that the Murd family often fired guns and hunted on their property, and the defense said the remains could not be linked to a specific weapon.
The defense did an “effective job during cross-examination raising questions about the credibility of the witness. And this is exactly the work that the jury should perform – to weigh the credibility of the witness,” said the judge.
But Newman’s decisions can also help the defense. If Murd is found guilty, the rulings could be appealed.
Additional witnesses will extend the trial, which reached its 12th day Tuesday, with no end in sight for the prosecution.
On Tuesday, jurors heard from Ronnie Crosby, Murdoch’s law partner for more than two decades.
Crosby testified for the prosecution that Murdo told him and other law partners that he was never at the kennel the night of the shootings, and later became a third witness who identified Murdo’s voice along with his wife and son’s about five minutes into the video from the kennel. before investigators say they were killed.
Crosby became emotional and took his time several times during his testimony. Prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Crosby if he had been drinking after his partner called him over to his house and showed him a folder of evidence that Murdo had been stealing money.
“Yeah, ultimately more than one,” Crosby said.
Crosby did not attend a meeting the next day, where the other partners confronted Murd, and he resigned. But he said he was told that Murdo told his colleagues that “he knew he was going to get caught at some point.”
On cross-examination, Crosby said he arrived at Murd’s home about an hour after the bodies were found the night of the murders. He got close enough to the bodies to see what ammunition was used, and said it never looked like state agents searched the Murdo home.
The day after the state agents left, Crosby said he and another partner saw bird pellets near the scene of the shooting and thought about collecting them in case they were important evidence.
“It was so bad. At one point we thought we were going to clean it up. But it stunned both my partner Mark and me,” Crosby said.
Tuesday’s testimony began with Jeanne Seckinger, who is the office manager and chief financial officer of the Murdoch family law firm, which was founded more than a century ago.
Murdo took money from legal settlements that were supposed to go to clients, sending it to a fake company he created that had a name similar to the name of the company the law firm intended to send it to, Seckinger said. The real company would then issue the money to the firm’s clients.
Seckinger said on the day of the murder, she confronted Murd about nearly $800,000 in missing law firm fees. But during the conversation, Murdo learned that the doctors had told his father that he would die in a few days. Seckinger said the grief has put an end to the investigation into the missing fees until things settle down.
After an extensive investigation, the firm determined that Murdo had defrauded clients of more than $5 million, and is in the process of repaying them in full, Seckinger said.
For nearly two hours, Seckinger went through dozens of checks that Murdo had sent to his fake company. He then asked why the law firm should refund the money.
“Alex stole it,” Seckinger repeated over and over.
On cross-examination, she agreed with attorney Jim Griffin that Murdah faces criminal charges for each client.
Griffin also asked Seckinger if it was true that Murdo started stealing in 2011, “about 10 years before Maggie and Paul were killed?”
“That’s right. He managed to fool a lot of people, including me,” Seckinger said.
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