WALTERBORO, SC (WSPA) – A key ruling came down in the Alex Murdaugh double murder trial Monday.
Judge Clifton Newman granted the state’s request to present evidence and testimony of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes and misdeeds to the murder trail jury.
Murdaugh’s defense team pushed back against the admissibility of this evidence over the last few days.
Judge Newman said, “I find that the jury is entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr. Murdaugh because of his dire financial situation, the threat of being exposed for committing the crimes which he was later charged with. Resulted in the commission of the alleged crimes.”
Prosecutors said they believe Murdaugh murdered his wife and son in June 2021 to stop his financial wrongdoings and situation from being uncovered. Under the law, other crimes you’re accused of can’t be brought up during a trial for a certain crime. There are exceptions like trying to prove a motive.
Murdaugh’s defense team said the financial crimes evidence will be used to smear their client. They also point out that the murders would have only brought more scrutiny to Murdaugh’s life.
With the jury back in the courtroom, two pieces of evidence were presented related to the murder trial: a blue tarp and blue rain jacket.
Shelley Smith, the caregiver for Murdaugh’s mother, testified Murdaugh had spent 15-20 minutes with his mother the night of the murders.
The next time she spoke with Alex, he told her he was at the home for longer, 30-40 minutes. She said that conversation upset her.
Smith was emotional on the witness stand and said, “They’re a good family and I love working there. I’m sorry all this happened. They’re good people.”
Smith testified a few days after the murders she saw Alex walking into the home with something blue, like a tarp.
The prosecution asked Smith if the blue item was actually a large rain jacket they found at the home. They showed her a photo of the rain jacket and Smith said it looked like what Murdaugh had.
During cross examination, Murdaugh’s defense team clarified with Smith that it was the tarp she saw Murdaugh carrying not a rain jacket. Attorney Jim Griffin showed her a photo of the rain jacket laid out and asked while holding the tarp, “Anyway to confuse this with a rain jacket?” Smith replied, “No.”
During opening statements, the prosecution said a blue rain jacket with gunshot residue was found at Murdaugh’s parent’s home. The defense asked the judge to block any testimony related to the blue rain jacket because there is no witness linking the rain jacket to Murdaugh.
The trial is scheduled to resume at 9:30 Tuesday morning.