‘He loved them so he couldn’t have’

Alex Murdaugh cries during trial

(The Island News)

Maggie Murdaugh’s death was a painful one.

She not only suffered physically as her killer circled, shooting again and again until she was gone, her last breath was taken knowing her 22-year-old son — one half of her world — had been killed too.

Paul Murdaugh was shot with his arms down by his sides.

He didn’t raise them defensively before being pegged in the chest with a shotgun — possibly his own. The final shot to his shoulder, which left through his head, sent him to the ground, gone before he got there.

Neither Maggie nor Paul would have been at Moselle the night of their murders were it not for the insistence of Alex Murdaugh.

When Maggie’s sister, Marian Proctor, later asked Alex who could have done this to them, his response was, “Whoever did it had been planning it for a long time.”

It is important to know that. It’s important to think about it.

We are now in Week 4 of the Alex Murdaugh trial in Colleton County. The prosecution expects to finish in the next day or so. Then we’ll hear from Alex Murdaugh’s team.

So far their defense has been, “But he loved them.”

For a surprising number of people that argument alone seems to be enough.

He loved them. So he couldn’t have …

Alex told investigators he had fallen asleep on the couch after dinner that night from 8:30 to 9 p.m. When he awakened, he said he called and texted Maggie to let her know that he was going to his mother’s house to check on her — something his mother’s caretakers say he didn’t do often.

His mother was asleep.

Alex told investigators that he didn’t go down to the kennels that evening … specifically that he had not been down there with his wife and son.

Then SLED found the video on Paul’s phone.

At 8:44 p.m. that evening — just five minutes before Paul and Maggie are thought to have been murdered — Paul had taken a video of a dog at the kennel.

In the background were three voices.

Paul’s and Maggie’s were two of them.

More than half a dozen witnesses — friends, family and co-workers — have identified the third.

“Alex Murdaugh,” they have testified again and again.

How certain were they?

“One hundred percent.”

Alex, as it turns out, wasn’t napping. He was at the kennels minutes before Maggie and Paul — both prolific phone users — had stopped using their phones forever.

Not only had Alex lied about his alibi, he had asked others to do so as well.

One of his mother’s caretakers and his housekeeper both testified about his attempts to plant false memories with them.

“If anyone asks, I was here for 30 or 40 minutes,” he said to the former before offering to help pay for her wedding and get her a better job at the Hampton County School District.

“THIS was the shirt I was wearing that day,” he said to the latter in a panic after SLED questioned him about another of Paul’s videos from that night, which showed Alex in a different outfit from what he was wearing after calling 911.

His housekeeper did all the family’s laundry. She had tucked in his collar that morning. She knew what he was saying was not true.

It is well-established at this point that Alex was under incredible financial pressure at the time of the murders.

Paul was facing three felony BUI charges. His legal team — the same one Alex has now — was expensive.

Alex was a defendant in a civil case involving the 2019 boat crash Paul was alleged to have caused. The clock was running out for him on a motion to compel. Late in the afternoon on the day of the murders, Alex was compiling a list of his accounts to hand over to the plaintiff’s attorney. He knew what that list would most certainly lead to — the discovery of the millions he had stolen from clients over most of his career.

Earlier that same day, he had been given an ultimatum by his law firm — people who had dealt with his antics before, forgiven him and moved on. “Show us that you didn’t steal nearly $800,000 from us.”

His law license — the thing he used to allegedly steal from clients — would be in jeopardy.

He was broke. He had bad credit. He was running out of lending options.

He wasn’t sleeping.

He was possibly on drugs.

And his father — his best friend and salvation — was about to die.

Recently someone tweeted at me about white collar criminals and how they simply don’t commit violent crimes — as if one criminal were more noble than the other.

She wasn’t citing any statistics. She was sharing her belief, which her mind had converted into a fact.

“They don’t do it, because they just don’t,” was her rationale.

Alex loved them. So Alex couldn’t have …

And yet there he is.

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