The murder trial of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh is underway at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, a small town about 40 miles west of Charleston. The case goes back to June 2021, when Murdaugh’s wife and son were found shot to death at the family’s Islandton property, known as Moselle.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime related to the deaths of his wife and son. Separate from the murder charges, he is also facing 99 charges stemming from alleged financial crimes.
Here are the key players in the murder trial:
Now disbarred, Murdaugh is a member of a prominent legal family in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Three generations of his family over 87 years have served as solicitor for the 14th Circuit, which oversaw prosecutions throughout the area. A portrait of his late grandfather, one of the solicitors, had hung on the wall of the courtroom; it was removed before trial. Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Alex Murdaugh’s wife, who was 52 when she was found fatally shot with the couple’s younger son at the family’s Moselle estate on June 7, 2021.
Alex Murdaugh’s 22-year-old son, who was found fatally shot with his mother at the family’s Moselle estate on June 7, 2021. At the time, he was facing charges of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and causing death in connection to a 2019 boat crash that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach, court records show. He had pleaded not guilty, and the charges were dropped after his death.
South Carolina senior assistant deputy attorney general and lead prosecutor. He has been involved with the case since 2021. The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case because of the Murdaugh family’s close ties to the local solicitor’s office.
One of Alex Murdaugh’s defense attorneys, along with Jim Griffin. Harpootlian is a South Carolina state senator and attorney whose Columbia-based practice specializes in criminal defense.
One of Alex Murdaugh’s defense attorneys, along with Dick Harpootlian. A former federal prosecutor, he now works as a state and federal criminal defense attorney based in Columbia, South Carolina.
The South Carolina Circuit Court judge hearing the case. He has been on the bench since 2000. Newman has presided over various proceedings in the Murdaugh case since 2021.
A former client of Alex Murdaugh. Murdaugh told authorities he conspired with Smith to kill Murdaugh as part of an insurance fraud scheme, per court documents, purportedly so Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster, could collect a $10 million life insurance payout. Smith admitted in 2021 to being present at the shooting and disposing of the firearm afterward, according to an affidavit. He has not testified at trial.
Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son. He has attended court each day and testified for the defense on February 21. His father’s scheme for Smith to kill Murdaugh was “an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child (Buster),” Harpootlian, the attorney, said.
Alex Murdaugh’s younger brother. He is listed as a witness at trial and has accompanied Buster Murdaugh to court. Buster testified February 21 that in the summer of 2021, Paul was living with John Marvin and doing work for him.
Alex Murdaugh’s younger brother and former partner with him at the law firm. Randy Murdaugh still works at the firm, now called Parker Law Group. The firm’s chief financial officer, Jeanne Seckinger, testified that in September 2021, the partners presented Randy Murdaugh with evidence of his brother’s financial crimes. She said Randy Murdaugh and another attorney, Danny Henderson, confronted Alex about the money that day, and that Alex admitted to stealing it.
One of Paul Murdaugh’s best friends who texted back and forth with Paul up until the time Paul’s phone ceased activity, according to phone records shown in court. Paul was taking care of Gibson’s dog and recorded, but never got to send, a brief video of the dog for Gibson minutes before the killings. Three voices are heard on the video; Gibson testified February 1 that one of the voices belonged to Alex Murdaugh, which undermines Murdaugh’s claim that he was not at the scene when his wife and son were killed. Gibson also referred to the Murdaughs as his “second family.”
One of Paul’s best friends who was an off-and-on roommate with him in Columbia, South Carolina. Loving testified February 1 that the third voice in the video that Paul recorded of the dog belonged to Alex Murdaugh.
The chief financial officer of Parker Law Group, where Alex Murdaugh practiced when the firm was known as PMPED (Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick, PA). Seckinger testified February 7 that on the day of the killings, she had confronted Murdaugh about $792,000 in missing fees from the law firm that she believed he kept for himself. Seckinger is the sister-in-law of Russell Laffite, the former president of Palmetto State Bank who loaned money to Alex Murdaugh and was convicted of six counts of financial fraud crimes in November.
An attorney at Parker Law Group who practiced with Alex Murdaugh when the firm was known as PMPED. While on the stand February 7, he listened to audio from Paul Murdaugh’s phone recorded at 8:44 p.m. the night of the killings and said he was “100% sure” it was Alex Murdaugh’s voice on the recording. He said he knew the Murdaughs well and they would vacation together.
A friend of Paul Murdaugh who was killed in the 2019 boat crash Paul was involved in. At the time of his death, Paul was facing charges of boating under the influence, causing great bodily harm and causing the death of Beach, who was 19. Beach’s family also sued Alex Murdaugh, who owned the boat, over the crash.
An attorney from Bamberg, South Carolina, who has known Alex Murdaugh since high school and was one of his best friends. Wilson is noted in Alex Murdaugh’s alibi on the night of the killings: Defense attorneys say Murdaugh called Wilson on the drive to and from his mother’s house before returning home and discovering his wife and son dead. In testimony February 9, Wilson said he felt “shocked, betrayed, mad … numb” when he heard Murdaugh was accused of stealing from clients and the firm. Murdaugh, he said, never paid him back for $192,000 of his own funds after they worked on a case together. In her testimony, Seckinger said Wilson later asked the firm to pay the missing portion of the money.
An associate attorney at Dick Harpootlian’s law firm who is part of Murdaugh’s defense team.
A veteran attorney who is part of the prosecution team. He worked for the Attorney General’s Office for four years before retiring from the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in 2012. He has tried hundreds of murder trials and was hired by the US Attorney’s Office in early January.
The attorney representing the family of Mallory Beach, the 19-year-old who was killed in a 2019 boat crash that Paul Murdaugh was involved in. Tinsley had filed a civil case against Alex Murdaugh in connection to the boat case; after Murdaugh rejected a settlement plan, Tinsley had filed a motion to compel that, if granted, would have forced Murdaugh to reveal his accounts, he testified. A hearing on the matter was scheduled for June 10, 2021, three days after the murders. Tinsley testified that had Murdaugh been “the victim of some vigilante,” the case against him would have been over.
The family’s housekeeper at the time of Maggie and Paul’s deaths. She testified February 10 that Maggie Murdaugh was worried about money being demanded of her family in the Beach family’s lawsuit, and that she told Turrubiate-Simpson she didn’t believe her husband was being truthful about the suit. Turrubiate-Simpson testified Murdaugh had asked his wife and son to come to the Moselle property the day they were killed. She also testified that Murdaugh asked her to go to the Moselle home the day after the murders to straighten up, saying he expected well-wishers to stop by; she also described clothes lying near the shower and on the floor.
An overnight caretaker for Alex Murdaugh’s mother, Libby, who was there when Murdaugh visited the night of the murders. She testified February 6 that Murdaugh was there 15 to 20 minutes and that he later told her it was actually “30 to 40 minutes.” The comment upset Smith enough that she called her brother to tell him about it, she testified. Smith also described a blue tarp that Murdaugh carried into the house and took upstairs.
The Murdaugh family’s longtime housekeeper who died in 2018 in what was described as a “trip and fall accident” at their home. One of her sons, Tony Satterfield, testified February 9 that after his mother’s funeral, Murdaugh promised to “take care of” the brothers by filing a wrongful death case against his insurance company over the death. Satterfield said Murdaugh never told him he eventually recovered more than $4 million in the case, and he never received the money from Murdaugh. Satterfield later won a lawsuit against the firm for $6.5 million, according to his testimony.
An expert in bloodstain pattern analysis who analyzed the shirt worn by Alex Murdaugh on the night his wife and son were killed. In a motion filed just before the trial, the defense asked the court to prohibit Bevel from testifying. The state never called Bevel to testify, as had been anticipated.