The video at the top of the story will play a live stream of the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial or a replay of the Thursday, Feb. 2 proceedings upon completion.
The Alex Murdaugh crime saga became more intriguing Thursday.
South Carolina Circuit Judge Clifton Newman continues to hear arguments - with information that could win or lose this historic criminal case - over whether or not to admit evidence of alleged financial crimes and other "bad acts" as motive in the June 7, 2021 murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.
With the jury in waiting until the matter is decided, counsel for both sides made compelling arguments over whether or not Murdaugh's more than 100 other criminal charges - mainly stealing from law clients and other attorneys - as well as at least two of the dozen civil cases against him, are legally admissible under S.C. Rules of Evidence Rule 404(b) in this double murder trial in Colleton County.
Witness testimony detailed how Murdaugh was confronted by his own law firm on the morning of the murders about missing legal fees, and was expected later that week to meet with opposing attorneys to discuss his financial matters as part of the 2019 Beach wrongful death suit. Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters painted Murdaugh as a desperate man looking to mask his malfeasance.
Paul Murdaugh boat crash:What we know and why it's being discussed in Alex Murdaugh trial
"On June 7, 2021, he is out of options," said Waters during the in-camera hearing, with no jury present. "For the jury to understand that, they have to understand what he was doing, and what he was trying to hide."
"When the hounds are at the door, when Hannibal is at the gates for Alex Murdaugh, violence happens," he added. "They really need to understand what this man was hiding. He was hiding something like we've never seen before."
Alex Murdaugh murder trial:Meet the SC lawyers, judge that will be in the spotlight
Arguably, Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin makes one of his most compelling arguments of the trial to date, citing the history of "trust and brotherhood" at Murdaugh's law firm that enabled him to pay back money he had misappropriated or misspent in the past.
While the state has claimed that Murdaugh killed his family to gain sympathy and distract from his crimes, Griffin pointed out that the troubled former attorney's father was on his death bed, and that achieved the same goal without violence. He also pointed out that the murders of Paul and Magge were detrimental for Murdaugh - putting him in a "bullseye circle" as the prime suspect and hurting him financially by delaying refinancing of his Edisto beach house and adding a loan on his Moselle property.
"How murdering Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh eased his financial stress - it doesn't," stated Griffin. "It's just a theory, no facts. There is no logical connection whatsoever."
Griffin also objected to entering the financial crime evidence on the grounds that it would lengthen an already lengthy trial, which is expected to last at least until Feb. 10. To date, the state has only called 21 witnesses (before the jury) from a potential witness list of 255 witnesses, with new witnesses being added as the trial progresses.
"We're going to be here until the end of February, into March," he added.
Newman, while not ruling on the matter, indicated that he would be in favor of allowing the evidence if the state could prove it was within the scope of the law.
"Evidence of other crimes can be used to show motive, intent, common schemes and plans," said Newman. "I find that it is admissible provided the proper scrutiny is done... "
Looking ahead to Friday's proceedings in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial
Newman will give the matter further scrutiny Friday morning, with another in-camera hearing at 9:30, before bringing the jury in at 11:30.
Possibly testifying Friday morning are more PMPED employees or partners to testify about confronting Murdaugh on missing fees, as well as employees of Palmetto State Bank in Hampton to testify about his desperate financial condition at the time of the murders. Allendale attorney Mark Tinsley is expected to testify Monday in a sans-jury hearing about the pressure the boat crash wrongful death suit put on Murdaugh.
The state on Friday is also expected to introduce evidence of Murdaugh's own admissions of guilt, including a $4.3 million confession of judgement in the Gloria Satterfield Estate case and possibly a visit from a representative of the S.C. Supreme Court, which disbarred him in July 2022.
Alex Murdaugh's betrayed boyhood friend makes emotional testimony
During the financial evidence hearing, the state called Chris Wilson, a Bamberg attorney who had been close friends with Murdaugh since high school, to testify about missing legal fees which Murdaugh allegedly stole that led to his June 7 confrontation with PMPED CFO Jeannie Seckinger.
Murdaugh and Wilson had worked together in a products liability suit, and Murdaugh allegedly misappropriated $792,000 in legal fees that were supposed to be paid from Wilson's firm to PMPED, then borrowed the money after the killings to replace most of what he had allegedly taken.
It was obvious that Wilson felt betrayed by Murdaugh.
"He was one of my best friends, and I thought that he felt that way about me," Wilson said, his voice thick with emotion.
"Feel that way now?" asked Waters. "I don't know how I feel, Mr. Waters," he responded, as Murdaugh hung his head and wiped tears.
Other Murdaugh murder trial highlights Thursday
∎Michael Gunn, of Forge Consulting, testified that checks to Murdaugh's fake Forge account at Bank of America were not legitimate.
∎14th Circuit Solicitor's Office Investigator Dylan Hightower testified about locating and recovering Maggie's phone a half mile from the murder scene, and SLED Senior Special Agent Katie McCallister testified about searching the Moselle residence for weapons and blood evidence.
∎Heidi Galore, records custodian at Snap, Inc., testified about Paul's snapchat video uploaded around 7:39 p.m. that shows Murdaugh wearing different clothes from what he was seen in by responding officers.
∎A 10th grade journalism class from Colleton Prep Academy was present Thursday morning as an educational field trip. The school expects to send three more classes later in the trial.
Thursday a.m. updates in Colleton County court
A host of key witnesses offering what could be damning evidence are prepared to testify against accused family killer and disbarred lawyer Richard "Alex" Murdaugh - but only if Judge Clifton Newman decides that evidence of other crimes or "bad acts" is admissible in the double murder trial.
Attorneys for Murdaugh, who is charged with the June 7, 2021, killings of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, have filed motions to exclude evidence of Murdaugh more than 100 other alleged crimes, as well as any evidence or testimony related to a 2019 fatal boat crash involving Paul in which Murdaugh was sued.
What's happening?:What's happening in the Alex Murdaugh trial? Snapchat video, testimony, witnesses, more
Judge Clifton Newman's ruling on boat crash testimony
But Judge Newman ruled early Thursday morning that boat crash matters and character testimony would be allowed because Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin "opened the door" to those matters during Wednesday afternoon's cross examination of two witnesses, Paul's friends Rogan Gibson and Will Loving.
"You have opened the door for the state to respond by asking questions," Newman told Griffin Thursday. "That opened the door for the state to address the issue."
But Newman has fully ruled on the issue of allowing financial crimes evidence under S.C. Rules of Evidence Rule 404(b). Newman sent the jury from the room early Thursday and conducted a 404(b) hearing to begin that determination.
'I can't wait for this to be over':Walterboro restaurants, food trucks serve influx of visitors
Jeannie Seckinger CFO of Murdaugh's family law firm takes the stand
During that hearing, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters called Jeannie Seckinger, the CFO of Murdaugh's family law firm in Hampton, PMPED (now called Parker Law Group), to testify.
Seckinger testified that she had confronted Murdaugh on June 7, 2021 - the day of the murders - about missing legal fees. She also testified that Murdaugh told her he was working to prepare "financials" for a hearing that Thursday in the boat crash wrongful death suit filed the mother of Mallory Beach, who died in that crash.
The state has filed documents alleging that Murdaugh was under pressure that day, because of the confrontation with Seckinger at PMPED, and because of the boat case, and that his motive for murder was to distract PMPED from his alleged wrongdoing, gain sympathy, and buy some time to cover his tracks.
Seckinger also testified at length about numerous accounts in which Murdaugh allegedly took money. When Waters asked her if Murdaugh misappropriated that money or paid the clients, she corrected him by saying, "stole." The law firm ultimately had to pay back every stolen dollar, she said.
She also testified that Murdaugh was trying to restructure attorney fees and put money in his wife's name to hide from the boat crash case, which PMPED objected to.
"... that would be wrong, and we didn't want any part of that," she said.
When Seckinger confronted Murdaugh, he gave her a "dirty" and frustrated look, and said, "What do you want now?" she recalled.
"I am doing my job" and need proof, she responded. After the murders, said Seckinger, Murdaugh was "distraught and nobody wanted to harass him about it (the missing legal fees)."
Once Newman sets the rules on the admissibility of the financial matters, the state is prepared to call Annette Griswald, Murdaugh's paralegal who first brought his crimes to Seckinger's attention, representatives from the S.C. Supreme Court and Palmetto State Bank, and several attorneys, to support their case.
When court resumes around 2:15, it is unclear if Newman will rule immediately, or hear further discussion, or if the state will call alternate witnesses pending his decision.
Looking back at Wednesday's proceedings in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial
New evidence and testimony offered Wednesday shocked the Murdaugh family members in attendance, and poked large, damning holes in Alex Murdaugh's alibi and statements to police about his whereabouts on the night of June 7, 2021, when Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were killed. Earlier in the day, the state offered into evidence a cell phone video taken around 8:40 on Paul Murdaugh's phone. In the video are images of a dog, and three voices.
Paul's best friend, Rogan Gibson, took the stand and testified that he was "100 percent sure" that the voices belonged to Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh on the night of the killings. He had previously identified the voices during a SLED interview in November of 2022.
"Did you recognize the voices of your 'second family', Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh?" asked Creighton Waters, lead prosecutor for the S.C. Attorney General's Office. Gibson responded, "I'm positive."
Earlier, prosecutors had offered evidence and testimony indicating that Paul and Maggie's cell phones had stopped all "meaningful activity" around 8:49 p.m., indicating they believe that's when they were shot and killed. This video evidence puts Murdaugh in a place he says he never was, at a time he said he wasn't present, on the night of the murders.
Murdaugh had told 911 operators and SLED investigators previously that the last time he had seen his wife was roughly two hours before the killings, and on Nov. 14, 2022, his attorneys filed a "motion of alibi defense" claiming that he "was not present at the time" of the killings.
Follow Michael DeWitt's Twitter feed for Murdaugh trial updates
A Twitter List by SEDOT_J_Orlando
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Alex Murdaugh murder trial: Judge Newman ruling, Seckinger tetimony
Best WiFi Names(2023-02-03 08:13:19Z)
Are you getting yourself a new WiFi router, then you might be happy because now you are able to set up your best WiFi names to your liking which is a funny act but a please to do indeed. Best WiFi Names Well as you already know that the reason why people be objective about finding the best WiFi names for their new connections or routers is that they want some cool or funny names that make them feel nice and at the same time when your friends, family.REPLY