LIVE: Alex Murdaugh takes the stand on day 21 of double murder trial



    Jurors returned to the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday morning as Alex Murdaugh is set to take the stand and testify in his own defense during his trial on charges for the double murder of his wife and son at the family’s hunting lodge in June 2021.

    The 54-year-old disgraced legal scion – disbarred soon after murder allegations and various alleged financial improprieties came to light – is accused of shooting and killing his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their youngest son Paul Murdaugh, 22.

    The state rested their case late last week – taking slightly longer than expected – with surprise, last-minute-allowed testimony about the defendant’s admittedly botched 2021 suicide attempt.

    During that effort, part of an admitted insurance fraud scheme, Alex Murdaugh suffered what law enforcement termed a “superficial” injury to his head. Jurors heard the 911 call about that incident and both sides hashed it out over the particulars.

    It was the defense’s cross-examination of a state’s witness that allowed that testimony to come in. On Wednesday, defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin were concerned about the state’s own cross-examination strategy should their client testify.

    The defense’s overarching concern is the extent to which the defendant might be cross-examined on financial crimes allegations if he takes the stand. The defense sought a quick ruling on the matter and said they needed it by Thursday at the latest. Judge Clifton Newman, however, declined to issue a formal ruling on Alex Murdaugh’s legal rights, but said he would go over those rights with the defendant if desired.

    It is considered a rarity in the U.S. legal system for criminal defendants to take the stand.

    On Wednesday, the defense called a total of five witnesses – and they will have called nine in total as he trial resumes Thursday morning. More witnesses will be called, but Law&Crime has since confirmed that the accused himself will testify in front of jurors.

    As trial began, Newman apprised the defendant of his constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment.

    Alex Murdaugh being apprised of his Fifth Amendment rights

    Alex Murdaugh stand with his lawyers, on the left, while being apprised of his Fifth Amendment rights by Judge Clifton Newman, on the right, on Feb. 23, 2023.

    “Whether or not you testify is a personal right,” the judge said. “No one can waive this right but you.”

    The court went on to explain that if he did testify, he would be subject to cross-examination and that if, in the end, he decided not to testify, jurors would be told they cannot hold that against him.

    Newman then asked the defendant if he wished to confer with his lawyers any further on the matter and if he indeed wished to testify.

    “No, sir, I don’t need to talk to them anymore,” Alex Murdaugh said. “I am going to testify, I want to testify.”

    Before the defendant, however, the defense called their 10th witness, Nolan Tuten, the brother of Nathan Tuten, who previously testified during the trial. During his testimony, Nolan Tuten repeatedly brought up the dead sunflowers at Moselle that he and Paul Murdaugh had planned to replant – the day of the murders. Ultimately, though, Paul Murdaugh’s friend never made it.

    After a short break, right at 10:45 a.m. EST, Richard Alexander “Alex” Murdaugh took the stand.

    The post LIVE: Alex Murdaugh takes the stand on day 21 of double murder trial first appeared on Law & Crime.

    Vittorio Rienzo

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