Alex Murdaugh trial - live: Testimony resumes after bomb threat forces emergency evacuation of courthouse

The double-murder trial of Alex Murdaugh ground to a halt on Wednesday as the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, was evacuated due to a bomb threat.

The threat was reported at around 12.30pm, forcing officials to whisk Mr Murdaugh and the jury away to secure locations.

The courtroom finally began to fill back up by 2.30pm and testimony recommenced at 3.10pm.

Earlier in the day, the jury heard more about the “significant” amount of gunshot residue discovered on a blue raincoat Murdaugh allegedly hid in his parents’ home after the murders of his wife and son.

At least 38 particles were found inside the coat – an amount that fits with the prosecution’s claim that the disgraced attorney used the garment to hide and move one or both of the guns used in the killings.

Jurors have also heard information about Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes for the first time after Judge Newman ruled the evidence can be considered with regards to its role in establishing a motive for the 7 June 2021 murders – marking a major blow to the defence.

Watch the trial LIVE now

Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Court adjourns for the day

21:39 , Oliver O'Connell

After a day of gunshot residue, financial misdeeds, car data and a bomb scare, Judge Newman calls time on proceedings.

The court is in recess until 9.30am on Thursday at which point cross-examination of Mr Falkofske will continue.

21:37 , Oliver O'Connell

Lots of people are commenting on Twitter that it’s all fine and well for the prosecution to produce all of this data, but as yet they have not put it all in context for the jury or stitched together a timeline as below to illustrate how they believe the night played out.

The jury could well be confused at this point.

21:34 , Oliver O'Connell

Cathy Russon of Law & Crime has also compiled a timeline crossreferencing the data from Alex Murdaugh’s SUV with Maggie Murdaugh’s cellphone.

Here’s the rest of the timeline:

21:23 , Oliver O'Connell

In cross-examination, Mr Falkofske clarifies the data he extracted was encrypted by the manufacturer and not the defendant.

He did not reach out to General Motors for help with the encryption, saying that manufacturers usually don’t help.

21:17 , Oliver O'Connell

A rough outline of the timeline appears to be:

At 9.06pm Murdaugh departs Moselle Road for his parents’ house.

He arrives at 9.22pm.

Murdaugh stays for 21 minutes (as Shelly Smith testified — though he asked her to say he stay almost double that time).

At 9.43pm/9.44pm the vehicle goes out-in-out of Park mode and Murdaugh departs his parents’ home for Moselle Road.

He arrives at the house at 10pm. The car then goes out and into Park mode twice for a few seconds.

At 10.04pm the vehicle comes out of Park mode as he drives from the house to the kennels having not found Maggie and Paul at home. This takes approximately a minute.

We know at 10.06pm he called 911 after discovering the bodies of his wife and son and allegedly checking their pulses and trying to turn Paul over in the preceding minute.

At 10.11 he drives back to the house to get his shotgun over the course of a minute while still on the 911 call. It takes a minute to get the weapon. He then drives back down to the kennels where the first responding police officers would find him minutes later.

21:09 , Oliver O'Connell

10.04.49pm out of Park mode.

10.05.55pm back into Park mode after approximately one minute.

10.11.45pm out of Park mode.

10.12.45pm back into Park mode.

At 10.13.39pm it goes out of Park mode, there is no corresponding data point showing the car going back into Park mode.

While the data cannot tell you who was in the car or whether it was in motion, the prosecution has built a timeline based on whether the car is in Park mode or not. That timeline appears to match with a version of events from the night of the murders.

21:04 , Oliver O'Connell

At 9.44pm the vehicle goes back out of Park mode and then goes back into Park mode at 10pm.

A gap of approximately 16 minutes.

There is another pair of events a moment later with the vehicle going in and out of Park mode over 12 seconds around 10.01pm.

Seconds later there is another pair of events in which the vehicle is out of Park mode for 13 seconds.

21:00 , Oliver O'Connell

At 9.43.05pm the vehicle goes out of Park mode again.

At 9.43.59pm it goes back into Park mode.

Just under a minute had elapsed.

20:59 , Oliver O'Connell

The data shows that at 9.04pm on 7 June 2021 the system began starting up again.

There are more data points at 9.05.56pm continuing for approximately one minute. The car’s engine is now running.

The vehicle is taken out of Park mode at 9.06.56pm.

The vehicle went back into Park mode at 9.22.45pm.

It could have been moving between these two timestamps, but there is no direct evidence from the data for that.

There is a 16-minute gap between these two events.

20:51 , Oliver O'Connell

There are records showing the infotainment system coming on — this can happen when the door is opened or if the car is turned on. Records also show when it powers down.

Other data shows the car shifting out of Park mode.

The prosecution is walking the witness through the spreadsheet he created from the data.

20:44 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Falkofske testifies he pulled data from another 2021 model Suburban as a test to determine how to read the extracted data from Mr Murdaugh’s vehicle.

In looking at the data from the defendant’s car, he first testifies that two calls were logged at 10.06pm on 7 June 2021 one to 9111 and a second a few seconds later to 911.

This corresponds to the timing of the 911 call made by Mr Murdaugh.

20:33 , Oliver O'Connell

He extracted data from Mr Murdaugh’s SUV.

This included call logs, contact lists, a little bit of location data, and other data via Bluetooth connectivity with the defendant’s phone.

It also included an event log for the vehicle ranging from windows going up and down, doors opening, and the screen going on, to the car changing gears or going into park mode.

New Witness: Dwight Falkofske

20:19 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness is the FBI electronic analysis specialist Dwight Falkofske.

He focuses on automotive systems and extracts data from those systems and makes it readable for the purposes of investigations.

20:16 , Oliver O'Connell

After identifying the two pieces of equipment removed from the vehicle, Mr Hudak steps down.

Court resumes

20:10 , Oliver O'Connell

After the bomb scare and extended lunch recess, the court is back in session and the jury is brought in.

Brian Hudak, a computer crimes special agent for SLED, is back on the stand.

He examined the infotainment module and OnStar module of Mr Murdaugh’s SUV.

Forge Consulting preparing to take legal action against Murdaugh and Bank of America

19:45 , Oliver O'Connell

As we wait for court to resume, a statement has been issued by Michael Gunn, the principal and senior settlement consultant for Forge Consulting, who testified before the jury earlier today.

Forge Consulting has been in business for over 20 years building our reputation on professionalism, experience and integrity. We’ve built our business on the truth and that’s exactly why we’re here today: to tell the truth.I don’t know what happened that horrible night in Islandton when Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were murdered. But I do know that Alex Murdaugh used our good name to defraud his clients, his law firm and countless others. I know that Bank of America could have stopped it all there with a single phone call to verify the truth. Unfortunately, that call was never made. I wonder how much tragedy could have been avoided if it was.

Michael Gunn, Forge Consulting LLC

Further, attorneys for Forge Consulting have said that they’re preparing to take legal action in response to the serious harm Alex Murdaugh and Bank of America have done to the financial firm’s business reputation and credibility due to Murdaugh’s and Bank of America’s participation in a scheme that allowed Murdaugh to use the “Forge” brand in order to defraud millions of dollars from his clients and colleagues.

19:38 , Oliver O'Connell

The general public is lining up to reenter the courthouse.

Security allowing people back into the courthouse

19:34 , Oliver O'Connell

The threat has been cleared and people are now being allowed back into the courthouse.

Full story: Murdaugh murder trial suddenly evacuated due to bomb threat

19:28 , Oliver O'Connell

Alex Murdaugh’s high-profile murder trial has been dramatically evacuated after a bomb threat was reported at the courthouse.

The bomb threat came in to staff at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, just before 12.30pm ET on Wednesday, prompting a sudden evacuation of the entire building.

SLED released a statement confirming that the “threat” was under investigation.

Rachel Sharp reports on today’s dramatic developments.

Alex Murdaugh murder trial suddenly evacuated due to bomb threat

Update: Bomb squad called in, report says

18:55 , Oliver O'Connell

18:29 , Oliver O'Connell

Colleton County Sheriff’s Office “urges citizens to use an alternate route of travel” and “will update traffic conditions as needed.

Reporters on the ground say there is currently no sign of canine units of the bomb squad, and traffic is moving freely not too far from the building.

18:21 , Oliver O'Connell

Scenes from outside the courthouse after the area was cleared.

18:11 , Oliver O'Connell

Jurors were evacuated in vans according to a report from ABC News.

18:09 , Oliver O'Connell

A reporter for The Post and Courier saw the van that Alex Murdaugh usually arrives in leave the area.

He was not able to see if Mr Murdaugh was inside.

SLED releases statement on bomb threat

18:04 , Oliver O'Connell

“A bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel. The building has been evacuated and SLED along with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the threat.”

17:47 , Oliver O'Connell

17:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Security rushed media away from the property and a fire truck has pulled up, according to reports from the scene.

Two reporters have had the reason for the evacuation confirmed as a bomb threat by lawyers on the Murdaugh case.

17:35 , Oliver O'Connell

There are multiple unconfirmed reports of a bomb threat being made to the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina.

The courthouse has been evacuated.

17:32 , Oliver O'Connell

Waiting to hear the reason for the evacuation.

17:26 , Oliver O'Connell

The purpose of this recess becomes apparent.

Judge Newman says: “We have to evacuate the building at this time. We’ll be in recess until we discover what’s going on. We’ll couple this with a lunch break until 2:30.”

New Witness: Brian Hudak, SLED computer crimes special agent

17:25 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness for the prosecution is Brian Hudak, a computer crimes special agent for SLED.

As he introduces himself, Judge Newman excuses the jury for a recess.

17:23 , Oliver O'Connell

On cross-examination, Mr Griffin again focuses on the Murdaughs as a close family and that Mr Gunn and his wife had been friends with them.

The Murdaughs had attended the Gunns’ wedding in New York in 2016 and he recalls Paul and Buster being brought to family events connected to legal conferences they would attend.

Mr Gunn attended Paul and Maggie’s funerals and described Mr Mursdaugh as a “broken man”.

17:19 , Oliver O'Connell

As in his earlier testimony, Mr Gunn explains he had not banked with Bank of America for more than four or five years when Mr Murdaugh’s partners approached him with evidence of the crimes — chiefly the Bank of America accounts in the name of Forge.

He confirms that the account is not his and he never gave Mr Murdaugh permission to operate in the name of Forge.

17:11 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Gunn is asked about how much he worked with Mr Murdaugh, how often they saw each other socially, and whether he had ever visited any of the properties or met up with the purpose of handing over checks.

He says the relationship with Mr Murdaugh was limited and he had worked more with other people at the firm. He had run into him socially but had not visited any of the properties and had never met him with the purpose of exchanging checks.

Ms Griswald testified that Mr Murdaugh had told her he would personally hand checks to Mr Gunn.

New Witness: Michael Gunn, principal of Forge Consulting

17:00 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness is Michael Gunn, principal of Forge Consulting. He is a senior figure in the firm Mr Murdaugh impersonated using a fake bank account to steal from his own clients.

Mr Gunn previously testified without the jury present.

The firm structures annuities for people who win settlements from workers’ comp lawsuits, wrongful deaths, etc.

Mr Murdaugh would argue cases for clients who if they won would then have an annuity put in place to pay them over time, with interest, in a tax efficient way.

16:56 , Oliver O'Connell

After a brief redirect establishing the timeline of when Mr Murdaugh was fired, Ms Griswald is excused.

16:55 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Griswald reads out the message she received from Mr Murdaugh in late September 2021.

She confirms the message was sent from rehab.

“I assumed it was probably one of the steps of reaching out to those you hurt and telling them you were sorry.”

In the message, he says he has hurt those he loves and says he is truly sorry.

“I am committing to getting better and hope to mend as many relationships as I can,” he wrote.

“Please know how sorry I am to have made you part of my misdeeds.”

16:50 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Griffin’s questioning revolves around establishing that Mr Murdaugh was a family man who would put Paul, Buster, and Maggie first.

His wife would accompany him on business trips and he would prioritise his son’s events over work.

We learn that he never spent another night at the Moselle Road property after the murders and stayed with family or at other properties. He seemed more mellow after the killings.

16:41 , Oliver O'Connell

Cross-examination begins with Jim Griffin for the defence.

He begins by asking Ms Griswald about her employment at the law firm and then her relationship with Mr Murdaugh.

“I cared about him. I respected him. I loved him,” she says.

“It was hard to work for him sometimes. He was a bit erratic. Yeah, for all the respect and love I had for him, it was still very difficult to work for him.”

Mr Griffin reminds her she described him like a Tasmanian devil.

16:36 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Waters asks Ms Griswald about Mr Murdaugh’s cell phone use. As with other witnesses she says he was always on his phone or his office phone, sometimes both together.

The prosecution plays the kennel video of Cash the puppy taken by Paul moments before the murders.

Ms Griswald identifies the voices of Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh, and like other witnesses who knew the family well, says she is 100 per cent sure of who is speaking.

16:33 , Oliver O'Connell

Court resumes.

Judge Newman rules the email from Mr Murdaugh to Ms Griswald is admissible but offers for a portion to be redacted.

The defence team tries to have all of the financial crimes struck from the court records. Judge Newman denies that motion.

He asks again if they would like to have the document redacted. The defence asks for a limiting instruction on how the jury may use it in their deliberating.

Judge Newman says he has issued that instruction twice and will not be doing so with every witness in the middle of their testimony.

The jury is brought back in and the exhibit is admitted into evidence.

16:06 , Oliver O'Connell

Court takes a 15-minute break.

16:06 , Oliver O'Connell

The jury is excused while the prosecution and defence argue over whether an email from Mr Murdaugh to Ms Griswald can be admitted into evidence.

The subject of the email concerns his time in rehab.

Mr Murdaugh’s defence does not want his use of drugs to be included in testimony.

The prosecution notes that there is no mention of drugs in the email, but this is an issue they have to address as his friend Chris Wilson will be called to testify again in front of the jury, and in camera testimony he spoke of Mr Murdaugh’s use of opioids.

15:57 , Oliver O'Connell

On 2 September 2021 she picked up a file and one of the missing checks from the Mack Trucks case fell out. It was dated March and it had been deposited by mobile deposit with Mr Murdaugh’s signature on the back.

Ms Griswald says she felt hurt, angry, and a bit enraged.

“He’s been lying this whole time. He had these funds. He lied to me. That feeling in the back of my mind was correct. He did take these funds.”

She called Ms Seckinger and went to see her and handed over the check that allegedly did not exist.

Mr Murdaugh was fired the next day. Further investigation uncovered the extent of Mr Murdaugh’s crimes.

15:52 , Oliver O'Connell

After the murders, Ms Griswald remembers the law firm and wider community rallying around the Murdaugh family.

Questions about the missing attorney fees for the Mack Trucks case stopped.

15:48 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Griswald remembers being very concerned about what might happen now that she had raised concerns about what Mr Murdaugh might be doing.

She reached out to Mr Wilson’s paralegal Vicky Lyman to voice her concerns.

Ms Griswald says her daughter told her to get her resume ready because she might get fired for her role in uncovering the apparent theft.

She remembers Ms Seckinger coming into the office and going to see Mr Murdaugh on 7 June 2021, the day of the murders. She exited without saying anything.

Ms Griswald went home at 5.15pm leaving Mr Murdaugh at the office. She woke up in the middle of the night to numerous texts and missed calls and spoke with Randy Murdaugh, learning about the murders of Paul and Maggie.

15:40 , Oliver O'Connell

In early 2021, the Mack Trucks case that Mr Murdaugh worked on with his friend Chris Wilson raised further red flags.

Ms Griswold says she was shocked to find out that legal fees had been directly paid to Mr Murdaugh. She assumed this was a mistake or he had lost the checks.

He claimed that he never got the checks and after a lot of chasing Mr Murdaugh said Mr Wilson has the money. This was the missing $792k that sparked the eventual uncovering of the extent of Mr Murdaugh’s theft.

Ms Griswold brought in CFO Jeanne Seckinger (who testified yesterday) and they both agreed that it did not look good but hoped it was some kind of misunderstanding. She says they both had a feeling that something was wrong.

15:27 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Griswold testifies that she began to notice oddities in the files tied to times when she was away from the office and someone else had to cover for her, or when things were being rushed through at the end of the working day.

15:21 , Oliver O'Connell

As the court heard earlier, Mr Murdaugh was depositing these checks — money due to clients — into his fake Forge account at Bank of America.

15:15 , Oliver O'Connell

Getting into the details of the financial crimes, Ms Griswold recalls Mr Murdaugh instructing her to change disbursement sheets and get checks cut to “Forge” and not “Forge Consulting”.

She also remembers that Mr Murdaugh would then take charge of those checks personally and say he would pass them on himself rather than them being mailed to their contact at Forge Consulting, Michael Gunn.

15:13 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Griswold recalls that everything changed after the boat accident. Mr Murdaugh changed, was often shut away in his office, was hard to reach, and treated his paralegals differently.

She describes it as very tense.

You could tell the boat crash was weighing heavily on him. It was consuming his life, almost.”

New Witness: Annette Griswold, paralegal for Alex Murdaugh

15:09 , Oliver O'Connell

The next witness is Mr Murdaugh’s former paralegal Annette Griswold.

She is being questioned by Prosecutor Creighton Waters.

Ms Griswold handled Mr Murdaugh’s larger case files — workers comp, medical malpractice, wrongful death etc.

She speaks fondly of working for Mr Murdaugh saying he was extremely intelligent and she respected and admired him for that.

15:05 , Oliver O'Connell

Agent Fletcher testifies that it is unusual for so many GSR particles to be found on the interior of a garment rather than on the exterior as people tend to wear their clothes the right way out.

It remains a matter of speculation as to how the GSR came to be on the inside of the raincoat. The prosecution appears to be hinting toward firearms being wrapped up in the garment.

There is a further quick question from Mr Griffin, clarifying that Agent Fletcher can only tell them what she saw under a microscope. She agrees.

15:02 , Oliver O'Connell

Prosecutor John Meadors is now questioning Agent Fletcher on redirect after the end of the cross-examination.

There was some confusion during direct examination as to how many particles were found on the raincoat. There were 14 found on the outside of the garment and 38 found on the inside, though they stopped counting as there were do many. These were sampled from 13 lifts on the outside and 12 lifts on the inside.

15:00 , Oliver O'Connell

In addition to the GSR test, the raincoat was also sent for DNA analysis. Agent Fletcher is not aware of the results of the testing.

14:57 , Oliver O'Connell

During the search of Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home, a blue tarp was taken into evidence in addition to the blue raincoat.

Only the raincoat was tested for GSR as it was balled up in a closet, whereas the tarp was found in a storage box above some dishes and was not.

14:54 , Oliver O'Connell

Moving on to the blue raincoat, Agent Fletcher agrees with the possibility that the GSR could be years old.

Mr Griffin suggests that Mr Murdaugh’s father, Randolph, at whose house the raincoat was found could have transferred GSR to the garment from its contact with his own firearms while out shooting.

14:49 , Oliver O'Connell

Defence attorney Jim Griffin is questioning Agent Fletcher.

Through his questioning, he confirms that gunshot residue (GSR) can remain on an inanimate surface indefinitely or until it was washed or brushed off. It is not possible to tell how or when it got there.

Asked about whether GSR accumulates on guns themselves, she says: “If you touch a gun that had been fired at any point, then you have the potential to transfer it to your hands.”

She agrees that the GSR found on Mr Murdaugh’s hands and clothes could have been from when he got the shotgun from the main house after calling 911 on the night of the murders.

Agent Fletcher is also asked about the GSR particle found on the seatbelt buckle.

“I could not tell you when that particle was deposited,” she says.

Watch the trial LIVE

14:43 , Oliver O'Connell

Court resumes

14:35 , Oliver O'Connell

Court resumes. Judge Clifton Newman presiding.

The jury is being brought in.

SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher will return to the witness stand for cross-examination by the defence team.

What to expect from day 13:

14:20 , Rachel Sharp

The trial will resume at 9.30am ET on Wednesday.

SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher will return to the stand for cross-examination by Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys.

Agent Fletcher testified on Tuesday that a “significant” amount of gunshot residue particles were found on a blue raincoat found at Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home – and smaller amounts on Mr Murdaugh’s hands, the shirt and short he was wearing on the night of Maggie and Paul’s murders and his seatbelt buckle in his car.

After that, jurors are expected to hear more testimony from witnesses speaking to Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes.

Catch up on yesterday’s story here:

Gunshot residue found all over blue raincoat in Alex Murdaugh case

RECAP: What happened in court on Tuesday? Gunshot residue evidence

14:10 , Rachel Sharp

Gunshot residue was found all over the mystery blue raincoat that Alex Murdaugh allegedly hid in his parents’ home in the days after his wife and son were shot dead, according to SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher.

Agent Fletcher said that a “significant” number of GSR particles – at least 38 – were found on the inside of the jacket which was seized from Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home. She said this would be consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped up inside the jacket.

The two firearms used to kill Maggie and Paul – an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun – have never been found.

Days after the 7 June 2021 murders, Mr Murdaugh’s mother’s caretaker said that the disgraced attorney had shown up at his parents’ house at around 6.30am cradling a bundled-up “blue something” in his hands.

Shelly Smith testified on Monday that he took the item upstairs and left it before leaving again.

In a search of the parents’ home, investigators discovered a blue tarp and a blue rainjacket.

Tests also found smaller amounts of gunshot residue on Mr Murdaugh’s hands, the shirt and short he was wearing on the night of Maggie and Paul’s murders and his seatbelt buckle in his car.

Ms Fletcher told the court that the presence of gunshot residue particles on an item means one of two things: the item was in the vicinity of a gun being fired or it came into contact with something else with GSR on it. It is not possible to say which of the two scenarios took place or when it happened.

RECAP: What happened in court on Tuesday? Law firm partner says Murdaugh lied about the kennels

13:50 , Rachel Sharp

Ronnie Crosby, Mr Murdaugh’s law firm partner and longtime friend, gave emotional testimony revealing that the accused killer lied to him about going to the dog kennels where his wife and son were brutally murdered.

Mr Crosby testified that Mr Murdaugh had told him personally on the night of the murders that he had never gone down to the kennels, when he rushed to the Murdaugh home on learning about the murders.

“That came up in one of the conversations, and he specifically said that he did not,” he testified.

Instead, Mr Murdaugh gave him the same alibi story that he gave to law enforcement – that he was napping at the family home, woke up and drove to his parents’ home to visit his sick mother.

Mr Crosby became the third state witness to say he is “100 per cent” sure that the voice captured in a cellphone video at the kennels minutes before the murders belongs to Mr Murdaugh.

“The three voices in that video are Paul, Maggie and Alex,” he said.

When asked how sure he was, Mr Crosby responded: “I’m 100 per cent sure.”

RECAP: What happened in court on Tuesday? Jury hears financial crimes for first time

13:30 , Rachel Sharp

Jurors heard testimony for the first time about Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes – and how they were reaching a head at the time of the murders.

Mr Murdaugh’s law firm PMPED was closing in on his alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme with a colleague confronting him about missing payments on the morning of the killings.

His finances were also coming under intense scrutiny in a lawsuit brought by the family of Mallory Beach – a 19-year-old woman who died in a 2019 crash in the Murdaugh family boat. A hearing for the boat crash lawsuit was also scheduled for the week of the murders. It was postponed following Maggie and Paul’s murders.

Now, separate from his murder trial, Mr Murdaugh is currently facing around 100 charges for stealing almost $8.5m from law firm clients dating back to 2011.

Last week, several witnesses testified without the jury present as the judge weighed whether to allow evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes to be presented at trial.

Prosecutors claimed that Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are key to proving the motive while the defence asked the judge to throw the evidence out of the trial. On 6 February, the judge ruled in the state’s favour that evidence about Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes is admissible in court – dealing a blow to the defence.

Jeanne Seckinger, PMPED CFO, testified that she had confronted Mr Murdaugh over a missing $792,000 payment on the morning of the murders.

When she approached Mr Murdaugh to ask him about it that morning she said he appeared “disgusted” with her.

Hours later, Maggie and Paul were shot dead.

Over the coming months, the law firm partners uncovered an alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme where he had stolen millions from their clients and pocketed it himself – reaching a head with the confrontation and resignation on 3 September.

The day after he was forced to resign, Mr Murdaugh was shot in the head in what turned out to be a botched hitman plot which he orchestrated with alleged accomplice, distant cousin and drug dealer Curtis Eddie Smith. They are now both facing charges over the plot.

WATCH: Footage that three witnesses say places Murdaugh at crime scene

13:15 , Rachel Sharp

Three witnesses have now testified that they are “100 percent” sure that the voice captured in a cellphone video minutes before Maggie and Paul were murdered belongs to Alex Murdaugh.

At the time of the murders, Mr Murdaugh claims that he was napping at the family home, woke up and drove to his parents’ home to visit his sick mother.

Video, which was captured on Paul’s phone from 8.44.49pm to 8.45.47pm, reveals three voices off camera at the dog kennels.

Two of Paul’s friends have already testified that Mr Murdaugh is the third voice.

Ronnie Crosby, who has known Mr Murdaugh for 25 years and was a law partner at his former law firm PMPED, on Tuesday testified: “The three voices in that video are Paul, Maggie and Alex.”

Who do you hear? Listen to the voices in the video below:

Gunshot residue found all over blue raincoat Murdaugh allegedly hid in parents’ home

12:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Gunshot residue was found all over the mystery blue raincoat that Alex Murdaugh allegedly hid in his parents’ home in the days after his wife and son were shot dead, according to bombshell courtroom testimony.

SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher testified in Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina that at least 38 gunshot residue (GSR) particles were found on the inside of the jacket which was seized from Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home.

Agent Fletcher said that this “significant” number of GSR particles would be consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped up inside the jacket.

The two firearms used to kill Maggie and Paul – an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun – have never been found.

Rachel Sharp reports.

Gunshot residue found all over blue raincoat in Alex Murdaugh case

A timeline of murders, financial fraud, unexplained deaths and arrest

11:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Disgraced legal dynasty heir Alex Murdaugh is currently on trial in a South Carolina courthouse for the murders of his wife and son.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting Paul, 22, twice with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, five times with a rifle on the family’s sprawling hunting lodge in Islandton on 7 June 2021.

He was arrested more than a year later in July 2022 and charged with their murders.

In the 19 months since the brutal double murders propelled the Murdaughs onto national headlines, a series of other scandals, allegations and alleged crimes have also come to light.

Here’s a timeline of the key moments in the case:

Alex Murdaugh: A timeline of murders, financial fraud, unexplained deaths and arrest

Murdaugh’s best friend of 40 years breaks down in tears on witness stand

10:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Alex Murdaugh’s former best friend of 40 years broke down in tears in court as he described the moment that he learned the disgraced attorney had stolen millions of dollars from his law firm clients – and $192,000 from himself.

Chris Wilson choked up with emotion as he said the betrayal “knocked me down” and revealed that “I don’t know how to think any more” about the man he had known and “loved” for most of his life.

“I was so mad. I had loved the guy for so long, and I probably still loved him a little bit, but I was so mad, and I don’t remember how it ended,” he said of Mr Murdaugh.

Read on:

Alex Murdaugh’s friend breaks down describing murder suspect’s financial crimes

Murdaugh accused of stealing $4m payout from housekeeper’s family

08:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Alex Murdaugh was accused of stealing a $4m settlement from his late housekeeper’s family at his murder trial on Friday, where prosecutors also raised questions about her mystery death.

Tony Satterfield, the son of Gloria Satterfield, took the witness stand in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Friday where Mr Murdaugh is currently on trial for the June 2021 murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

Satterfield worked as the Murdaugh family’s housekeeper and nanny for more than 20 years, before she died in a mysterious trip and fall at the family home.

On 2 February 2018, she was found at the bottom of some stairs at the property. She never resumed consciousness and died from her injuries around three weeks later. She was 57.

Questions have been raised about her death with an investigation reopened in the aftermath of the 2021 murders of Maggie and Paul and Mr Murdaugh is now charged with stealing settlement money intended for Satterfield’s two sons.

Rachel Sharp reports.

Son of Alex Murdaugh’s housekeeper testifies that he stole $4m payout from family

‘Fidgety’ Murdaugh visited mom on night of murders

06:40 , Oliver O'Connell

A “fidgety” Alex Murdaugh showed up at his sick mother’s house for a brief 20-minute visit on the night of his wife and son’s murders – before later claiming he was there double the length of time and offering to pay towards the wedding of the caretaker who could refute his alibi.

Read on:

Alex Murdaugh was ‘fidgety’ when he visited sick mother’s home on night of murders

Why are Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes being presented as evidence?

04:40 , Oliver O'Connell

A South Carolina judge has ruled that Alex Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes can be presented as evidence in his trial for the murders of his wife and son.

In a major blow to the disgraced legal scion’s defence, Judge Newman ruled on Monday that the jury should be allowed to hear about Mr Murdaugh’s alleged multi-million-dollar fraud schemes as they decide his fate on murder charges.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that the vast financial fraud scheme – in which he allegedly stole over $8m from law firm clients – was relevant to their argument of establishing a motive in the case.

Rachel Sharp has the details.

Alex Murdaugh’s financial crimes allowed as evidence in murder trial

‘Fuse was lit’ to expose Murdaugh’s financial crimes at time of murders, attorney says

02:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The “fuse had been lit” to expose Alex Murdaugh’s slew of alleged financial crimes at the time of his wife and son’s murders – but his problems would likely “be over” if the family was the “victim of an unspeakable tragedy”, according to dramatic courtroom testimony at his trial.

Attorney Mark Tinsley took the witness stand at Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina on Monday morning to testify about the lawsuit he brought against Mr Murdaugh on behalf of the family of Mallory Beach.

Beach, 19, died in a February 2019 crash in the Murdaugh family boat.

Rachel Sharp reports.

Boat crash attorney speaks on Alex Murdaugh’s financial crimes

Eric Swalwell weighs in on Murdaugh murder trial

01:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Congressman Eric Swalwell has weighed in on the ongoing trial of Alex Murdaugh, a high-profile South Carolina attorney now accused of a shocking list of crimes including the murder of his wife and son.

Here’s what he said:

Rep Eric Swalwell weighs in on Alex Murdaugh murder trial

Earlier: Judge rules blue raincoat evidence allowed

00:40 , Oliver O'Connell

Jurors at Alex Murdaugh‘s double murder trial in South Carolina will get to hear evidence about what crime scene technicians discovered when they tested a rain jacket found three months after his wife and son were killed, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Jurors hear about blue rain jacket in Alex Murdaugh trial

Key revelations from the Alex Murdaugh murder trial

00:00 , Oliver O'Connell

It’s a dramatic saga that now includes murder, a botched hitman plot, multi-million-dollar fraud schemes and a series of unexplained deaths.

The now-disbarred attorney denies the allegations and has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Murdaugh’s trial got underway at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro on 23 January.

Here are the key revelations from the trial so far:

‘Confession’, bloody scene and ‘clean’ shirt: Key moments from Alex Murdaugh trial

Gunshot residue found all over blue raincoat Murdaugh allegedly hid in parents’ home

Tuesday 7 February 2023 23:38 , Oliver O'Connell

Gunshot residue was found all over the mystery blue raincoat that Alex Murdaugh allegedly hid in his parents’ home in the days after his wife and son were shot dead, according to bombshell courtroom testimony.

SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher testified in Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina that at least 38 gunshot residue (GSR) particles were found on the inside of the jacket which was seized from Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home.

Agent Fletcher said that this “significant” number of GSR particles would be consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped up inside the jacket.

The two firearms used to kill Maggie and Paul – an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun – have never been found.

Rachel Sharp reports.

Gunshot residue found all over blue raincoat in Alex Murdaugh case

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:41 , Oliver O'Connell

Court adjourns for the day.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:41 , Oliver O'Connell

The prosecution askes if the amount of GSR particles on the inside of the blue raincoat is consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped in it.

Ms Fletcher says yes.

No further questions.

Cross-examination of Ms Fletcher will begin at 9.30am on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:36 , Oliver O'Connell

Ms Fletcher says with the number of GSR particles she found, if they were transferred from other objects, then those would have to have been covered in a significant amount of particles themselves.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:34 , Oliver O'Connell

Moving on to the testing of the controversial blue raincoat, Ms Fletcher explains that it was so large that the garment had to be laid out across two tables.

She continues by explaining that they conducted particle lists across the whole of the jacket, both inside and out, including in pockets.

A total number of 25 particle lifts were conducted — 13 were taken from the outside and 12 from the interior.

A total of 38 particles were found on the inside of the jacket — there were likely more to be found but she stopped counting.

Ms Fletcher has not yet said how many particles were found on the outside of the garment.

She testifies that the jacket either obtained the particles through transfer or if it was worn inside out and near the discharge of a weapon.

One particle was found on the outside of the hood, but three were found on the inside.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:17 , Oliver O'Connell

One GSR particle was found on the seatbelt buckle taken from Mr Murdaugh’s SUV.

It could have got there from either object transfer or proximity to a gunshot. In this case, it is most likely object transfer as no weapon was discharged from the vehicle.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:09 , Oliver O'Connell

One GSR particle was also found on Mr Murdaugh’s hands.

This indicates one of three things, Ms Fletcher: discharge of a firearm, proximity to a gunshot, or transfer from another object.

No particles were found on his shoes.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:05 , Oliver O'Connell

On the shorts, GSR particles were found on both the right and left groin areas and were either in the vicinity of a gunshot or were transferred from another object.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 22:03 , Oliver O'Connell

After an explanation of GSR testing and SLED policy, Ms Flethcer examines Mr Murdaugh’s white t-shirt.

She and her colleague both noted the smell of fresh laundry detergent when the t-shirt evidence bag was unsealed.

There was light staining on the shirt, but the cargo shorts Mr Murdaugh had been wearing were clean.

GSR particles were found on the shirt on the right sleeve, right chest (two particles) and left sleeve, left chest (one particle).

Ms Fletcher testifies that in her opinion the item of clothing was either in the vicinity of a discharged firearm or came into contact with an object with GSR on it.

New Witness: Megan Fletcher, SLED forensic scientist

Tuesday 7 February 2023 21:40 , Oliver O'Connell

The state’s next witness is Megan Fletcher, the SLED forensic scientist who will speak about the gunshot residue evidence (GSR).

Yesterday, the court heard about the collection of the GSR trace evidence, Ms Fletcher is now expected to reveal what the results were pertaining to the evidence collected from the murder scene and Murdaugh properties.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 21:26 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby says that when Mr Murdaugh would come into the offices after the murders (but before his termination) he would fall asleep at his desk, said he was having trouble sleeping, and lost weight. He was also taking medication to help him with anxiety.

He also testifies that Mr Murdaugh was carrying a gun a month after the murders. Mr Crosby had never seen him carry a gun around for protection before.

Court takes its mid-afternoon break.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 21:19 , Oliver O'Connell

In cross-examination, Mr Crosby recalls going to the local mechanic’s shop where Paul’s car was to see if there were any firearms in the vehicle or if he had removed any (he checked surveillance footage).

Defence attorney Jim Griffin asks a lot of questions about the handling of the crime scene on the night of the shootings in an effort to pick holes in the investigation.

“I assumed whatever was going on was being done with procedures,” said Mr Crosby.

Mr Griffin asks how Mr Murdaugh’s clothes were collected. He remembers him dropping them into a bag held open by a SLED agent.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby recalls the evening he was called to partner Danny Henderson’s house to see the records that had been uncovered confirming Mr Murdaugh’s thefts.

He immediately realised how bad things were and was offered a drink. Asked if he had one, he replies: “Yeah, ultimately more than one.”

Knowing the extent of Mr Murdaugh’s misdeeds, Mr Crosby said he knew he would have to be fired.

While he didn’t attend the meeting the next day at which Mr Murdaugh was confronted, he said he heard that he confessed and said “he knew he was going to get caught at some point in time”.

Asked what he would have done if he had found out about Mr Murdaugh’s crimes earlier, he said: “If I had become aware of it, he would have been asked to resign or I would have forced a vote and he would have been terminated under our contract.”

He adds that he would have turned the case over to law enforcement and reported him to the South Carolina bar which was ultimately what happened.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:44 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby says that in the aftermath of the murders the law firm family rallied around Mr Murdaugh in support.

Questions about the missing $792k stopped being asked.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:35 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby explains how he heard about the murders and rushed to the Moselle Road property at about 11pm that night.

He said he stayed until 3.30am but went home to get some sleep.

Asked about what Mr Murdaugh had told him about his movements that night, he says he fell asleep on the couch when Maggie and Paul went to the kennels and then went to visit his mother.

The prosecution plays the video taken by Paul of Cash the puppy at the kennels.

Mr Crosby — as Paul’s friends were asked before — is asked to identify the voices he could hear on the video. He names Paul, Maggie, and Alex.

Asked how sure he was about whom the voices belonged to, he replies “100 per cent”.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:27 , Oliver O'Connell

An emotional moment in court as Mr Crosby is asked about Paul Murdaugh.

“I didn’t think it would be this hard,” he said, tearing up.

He explains that he had known Paul since he was born and was known by him as “Uncle Ronnie”. His son had been Paul’s friend and they would go hunting together.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:25 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby says he was told in May of 2021 that Mr Murdaugh may have been trying to hide income as the boat crash case progressed.

“Oh f*** no he did not,” he recalls saying, noting that it would be illegal and unethical.

He did not suspect any theft was going on at that point.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:17 , Oliver O'Connell

Mr Crosby characterises Mr Murdaugh as a “very good lawyer”, who was “very good at reading people” and “very good at understanding people”.

He adds that Mr Murdaugh was “very good at making people believe he cared about them and building a rapport and trust with them”.

Mr Crosby recalls that Mr Murdaugh lost out on real estate transactions when the market went bad in the global financial crisis.

He also gives a preview of the testimony relating to the death of Gloria Satterfield and the insurance claim that followed that the jury has not yet heard.

New Witness: Ronnie Crosby, former law partner of Alex Murdaugh

Tuesday 7 February 2023 20:01 , Oliver O'Connell

The state calls its next witness, Parker Law Group attorney Ronnie Crosby, one of Mr Murdaugh’s former law partners.

He explains how the bonus system worked at the former firm.

Court resumes

Tuesday 7 February 2023 19:56 , Oliver O'Connell

Following the lunch break, court resumes with a moment of levity relating to a poor-quality transcript provided to the defence.

Defence Attorney Dick Harpootlian had complained about its quality and Judge Clifton Newman clarified that it was not from the in-house court reporters but was from an external company.

Mr Harpootlian says he had no intention of impugning the quality of the South Carolina court reporting but said it was the work of a “northern company” to much laughter from the gallery.

Full story: CFO’s testimony about Murdaugh’s financial crimes

Tuesday 7 February 2023 19:08 , Rachel Sharp

Jeanne Seckinger, the CFO and COO at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPED, testified in Colleton County Courthouse for a second time on Tuesday morning.

Last week, she testified in the absence of the jury before the judge determined that evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes were allowed to be presented at his murder trial.

Here’s our full story from last week:

Alex Murdaugh confronted by law firm over missing $792,000 hours before murders

Court breaks for lunch

Tuesday 7 February 2023 18:45 , Rachel Sharp

Jeanne Seckinger has left the stand and the court is breaking for lunch.

Testimony from a new witness will resume at 2.40pm.

Defence points out financial crimes weren’t known on day of murders

Tuesday 7 February 2023 18:37 , Rachel Sharp

Continuing on with this argument, the defence sought to point out that Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes hadn’t come to light yet on the day of the murders – casting doubt on the potential motive that he killed Maggie and Paul to distract from and buy him time in his fraud scheme.

Under cross-examination, Ms Seckinger confirmed that evidence of his alleged financial fraud had been there in the company financials for years before the murders and had never been discovered.

She had no prior reason to suspect he was stealing money – and clients weren’t calling up to demand their money – and so she hadn’t dug into the records, she said.

Ms Seckinger also confirmed that she stopped delving into the missing money as soon as Mr Murdaugh learned his father was in hospital – something the defence used to claim had already delayed the financial probe, suggesting he did not need to kill his wife and son for that same purpose.

When asked if she knew that Mr Murdaugh had no life insurance on Maggie and Paul, Ms Seckinger responded: “I have no awareness of that.”

This was all used by Mr Griffin to indicate that Mr Murdaugh’s finances were not being exposed at the time of the murders.

However, under redirect, Ms Seckinger testified that Mr Murdaugh’s crimes were on the cusp of being uncovered.

“Was that all on the cusp of being uncovered?” asked Mr Waters.

“Yes,” she replied.

Tuesday 7 February 2023 18:21 , Rachel Sharp

Under cross-examination, Mr Griffin seeks to downplay the significance of the 7 June confrontation over the missing money.

Ms Seckinger confirmed that she did not accuse Mr Murdaugh of stealing money that day.

She only questioned him about where the money was and whether he was trying to hide the money from the Beach family lawsuit, she said.

“I had my suspicions about whether it was really in there, but we were not pursuing it as stolen money,” she said.

Cross-examination of Jeanne Seckinger

Tuesday 7 February 2023 18:16 , Rachel Sharp

Under cross-examination, attorney Jim Griffin seeks to show Ms Seckinger was personally upset that Mr Murdaugh was stealing money from the law firm.

“I take it very personally that this happened... it’s a big betrayal of trust,” she confirmed.

In total, she confirmed that PMPED partners had to pay out more than $5m to Mr Murdaugh’s victims, to reimburse them for the money that he had stolen over the years.

Click here to read the full blog on The Independent's website