Alex Murdaugh’s attorney called the prosecution’s theories about the murder of Alex’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul “illogical, irrational, and insane” during his closing argument on Thursday.
“You've heard weeks of testimony about Alex’s financial crimes, drug addiction, and lies — but after all that, the state has failed to provide a satisfactory answer to this question: why, why, why?” defense attorney Jim Griffin asked. “The state cannot provide an answer to this question, because the answer is he would not under any circumstances murder those that meant the most to him.”
Despite admitting in his testimony that he lied to investigators and loved ones about his whereabouts shortly before Maggie and Paul were shot, Alex and his defense team have maintained his innocence, continuing to deny he was the one who killed them.
Griffin acknowledged those lies, but he said they were due to Alex’s drug addiction, saying it wasn’t a “rational” choice, but his “paranoia kicked in.”
“He lied because that’s what addicts do — addicts lie,” Griffin said. “He lied because he had a closet full of skeletons and he didn’t want any more scrutiny on him.”
In their closing argument Wednesday, the prosecution had laid out why they believe Alex was the only person who had the means, motive, and opportunity to kill Maggie and Paul. Alex had been stealing millions of dollars from his law firm, multiple witnesses said, and may have feared his alleged financial crimes were about to be revealed. His “ego couldn’t stand that,” so he murdered his family in a desperate attempt to garner sympathy and protect his good name, prosecutors alleged.
“The entire illusion of his life was about to be altered — he couldn't live with that,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said. “He's the kind of person for which shame is an extraordinary provocation.”
The defense pushed back at this claim on Thursday, saying Alex “adored and loved” his family and would never have harmed them.
“Even if the financial day of reckoning was impending, if it was right there, Alex would not have killed the people he loved the most in the world,” Griffin said. “There's no evidence that he would do that.”
But in their rebuttal, prosecutors reaffirmed their stance that Alex was being driven by his ego more than anything else.
“I think he loved Maggie. I think he loved Paul,” prosecutor John Meadors said. “But you know who he loved more than that? … He loved Alex.”
He also reminded the jury of Alex’s tendency to lie. “What he did when he took the stand was corroborate that he's a liar and corroborate the fact that he doesn't tell the truth,” Meadors said.
Jury deliberations are now underway. In order to convict Alex of murder, all 12 jurors will have to be unanimous in their decision.
Griffin appealed to the jury, saying that if any of them have even a shred of doubt that Alex is guilty, they should not convict him.
“With your words, you can let everyone know that in a court of law, only evidence and the burden of proof matters, not gossip, innuendo, opinions, and most of all, not theories layered on top of speculation,” he said. “There are two words that justice demands in this case, and those two words are not guilty.”
“On behalf of Alex, on behalf of Buster, on behalf of Maggie, and on behalf of my friend Paul,” Griffin said, sounding choked up, “I respectfully request that you do not compound a family tragedy with another.”
The prosecution hit back against the defense’s closing argument, saying they don’t need to answer every single question to prove the case. If the jury is sufficiently convinced of Alex’s guilt, they should convict, Meadors said.
“There's not a book on how to be a juror, but you have been preparing for this moment in this courtroom to decide this case for your entire life — and it's called life,” Meadors said. “It's called living. It's called experiences. It's called interacting with your spouse, your children, your neighbors, your coworkers, your good experiences, your bad experiences, evaluating people and deciding what's credible.
“This is a common-sense case,” he continued. “And you didn't leave that common sense with you when you came here six weeks ago. It's with you now, it's been with you during the six weeks here, and you're going to take it back into the jury room.”