The heir to a once-dominant South Carolina legal dynasty, who is now charged with murder, admits to taking $3.6 million (£3.1 million) in just one year.
According to the prosecution, 54-year-old Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an effort to hide his crimes.
He has admitted to years of theft to support a serious drug addiction, notwithstanding his denials that he had any involvement in their deaths.
He said that at his peak, he was using up to 3,000 mg of opiates daily.
At the Murdaugh family’s hunting estate in June 2021, Mr. Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot to death. Authorities think Mr. Murdaugh killed them in order to hide millions in theft and misappropriation over a period of years.
If found guilty of the killings, he may spend the rest of his life in a state prison.
On the second day of a contentious cross-examination in a courtroom in South Carolina, Mr. Murdaugh admitted to years of theft from clients and people he “loved and cared about,” but he downplayed the prosecutor’s suggestion that he was facing apparent insurmountable financial difficulties in the weeks leading up to the deaths of his wife and son.
He said that the crimes helped him pay for an opiate addiction that caused him to take as many as 60 tablets a day, totaling $50,000 each week. He detailed in court the excruciating withdrawal symptoms he experienced when trying to stop using medications.
There were days when I took more, he said. “Opiates gave me energy… it made anything I was doing more fascinating,” the user said.
“When you’re doing the bad things I was doing, you have all kinds of ways of justifying [it],” Mr. Murdaugh continued.
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He told the jury, “I’m not saying that makes it right. “There are a lot of things…to be able to see yourself in the mirror, but while I was doing it and I was addicted as I was, there were all kinds of things. You tell yourself lies.”
Mr. Murdaugh is facing 99 different financial allegations totaling roughly $8.8 million (£7.3 million) in allegedly stolen money.
Since Mr. Waters started cross-examining Mr. Murdaugh on Thursday, the two have argued frequently on the prosecutor’s repeated claim that Mr. Murdaugh’s account is difficult to accept. On Friday, Mr. Waters observed that Mr. Murdaugh had now admitted to stealing millions of dollars and lying to the police about where he was the night of the murders this week.
In response, Mr. Murdaugh asserted that he had been “pleading” to talk with the prosecution.
He replied, “I’ve been trying to sit down and chat to y’all since at least January and never, ever got a response.
The Murdaugh trial, which is now in its fifth week, has dominated news coverage in the southern portion of the state, where the Murdaugh family has been a well-known and affluent part of the legal community for centuries.
On Thursday, Mr. Murdaugh acknowledged telling a lie when he said he wasn’t with Maggie and Paul the night they passed away. This allegation was later proven false by cell phone footage shot at a kennel on their property, as well as by car-tracking and other data.
Mr. Murdaugh said that the denials were the consequence of psychosis brought on by his opiate addiction.
Through Friday afternoon, when Mr. Waters is anticipated to ask specific questions concerning Maggie and Paul’s deaths, the cross-examination will go on.