Gunshot residue was found all over the mystery blue raincoat that Alex Murdaugh allegedly hid in his parents’ home in the days after his wife and son were shot dead, according to bombshell courtroom testimony.
SLED forensic scientist Megan Fletcher testified in Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina that at least 38 gunshot residue (GSR) particles were found on the inside of the jacket which was seized from Mr Murdaugh’s parents’ home.
Agent Fletcher said that this “significant” number of GSR particles would be consistent with a recently-fired gun being wrapped up inside the jacket.
The two firearms used to kill Maggie and Paul – an AR-15-style rifle and a shotgun – have never been found.
Days after the 7 June 2021 murders, Mr Murdaugh’s mother’s caretaker said that the disgraced attorney had shown up at his parents’ house at around 6.30am cradling a bundled-up “blue something” in his hands.
Shelly Smith testified on Monday that he took the item upstairs and left it before leaving again.
In a search of the parents’ home, investigators discovered a blue tarp and a blue rainjacket.
Agent Fletcher’s dramatic testimony has now revealed that the rainjacket was coated in GSR – with 38 particles found on the inside and a smaller, unidentified number on the outside.
“It was a significant amount of particles,” she testified.
She added that she “stopped counting” after reaching 38 but contended that she could have gone on to find more.
Tests for gunshot residue were carried out on Mr Murdaugh’s hands, the clothing he was wearing on the night of Maggie and Paul’s murders and other items seized as evidence in the case.
Ms Fletcher told the court that the presence of gunshot residue particles on an item means one of two things: the item was in the vicinity of a gun being fired or it came into contact with something else with GSR on it.
It is not possible to say which of the two scenarios took place or when it happened.
Mr Murdaugh’s hands, his shirt and shorts and the seatbelt buckle of his car also had smaller numbers of GSR particles on them.
Three particles – one on the left sleeve and two on the right side – were found on the white t-shirt he was wearing when law enforcement arrived on the scene of the shootings. The shirt had a strong smell of detergent, Agent Fletcher noted.
Three particles – two on the right side and one on the left groin area – were also found on the shorts he had on.
One GSR particle was found on Mr Murdaugh’s hands.
On his shoes, no gunshot residue was found.
A single GSR particle was however also discovered on the seatbelt buckle of Mr Murdaugh’s car – something the agent described as “abnormal”.
The dramatic testimony came the same day that jurors heard testimony for the first time about Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes – and how they were reaching a head at the time of the murders.
Mr Murdaugh’s law firm PMPED was closing in on his alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme with a colleague confronting him about missing payments on the morning of the killings.
His finances were also coming under intense scrutiny in a lawsuit brought by the family of Mallory Beach – a 19-year-old woman who died in a 2019 crash in the Murdaugh family boat. A hearing for the boat crash lawsuit was also scheduled for the week of the murders. It was postponed following Maggie and Paul’s murders.
Now, separate from his murder trial, Mr Murdaugh is currently facing around 100 charges for stealing almost $8.5m from law firm clients dating back to 2011.
Last week, several witnesses testified without the jury present as the judge weighed whether to allow evidence of Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes to be presented at trial.
Prosecutors claimed that Mr Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are key to proving the motive while the defence asked the judge to throw the evidence out of the trial.
On 6 February, the judge ruled in the state’s favour that evidence about Mr Murdaugh’s financial crimes is admissible in court – dealing a blow to the defence.
On Tuesday, Mr Murdaugh’s law firm partner and longtime friend testified about learning about the murder of the young man who saw him as his “uncle” – and then learning his friend had been stealing millions from their law firm.
Ronnie Crosby choked up with emotion as he revealed that the accused killer lied to him about going to the dog kennels where his wife and son were brutally murdered, becoming the third state witness to say he is “100 per cent” sure that the voice captured in a cellphone video minutes before Maggie and Paul were murdered belongs to Mr Murdaugh.
“The three voices in that video are Paul, Maggie and Alex,” he said.
When asked how sure he was, Mr Crosby responded: “I’m 100 per cent sure.”
Mr Crosby, who has known Mr Murdaugh for 25 years and was a law partner at his former law firm PMPED, testified that Mr Murdaugh had told him personally on the night of the murders that he had never gone down to the kennels.
“That came up in one of the conversations, and he specifically said that he did not,” he testified.
Instead, Mr Murdaugh gave him the same alibi story that he gave to law enforcement – that he was napping at the family home, woke up and drove to his parents’ home to visit his sick mother.
Mr Crosby recalled the moment on 7 June 2021 when he found out that Maggie and Paul had been shot dead by the dog kennels on the Murdaugh estate in Islandton.
He said he was in “shock” and “immediately told my wife I had to go, and I got in my vehicle and started heading to Moselle”.
He stayed with Mr Murdaugh there until around 3.30am the following morning and, during that time, he had “multiple conversations” with his friend about his movements that night.
The law partner was visibly upset as he said – despite his friend’s claims – he was now certain that cellphone footage filmed by Paul contains Mr Murdaugh’s voice.
The footage, which was previously played in court, was captured from 8.44.49pm to 8.45.47pm – less than five minutes before prosecutors allege Mr Murdaugh shot them both multiple times. Three voices are heard off camera and two of Paul’s friends have already testified that Mr Murdaugh is the third voice.
Mr Crosby grew especially emotional when he spoke about Paul – recalling how he knew him his whole life and the 22-year-old grew up seeing him as his “uncle”.
“I knew Paul since he was born. Both he and Buster had always referred to me as Uncle Ronnie,” he said.
In the aftermath of the murders, he said that mr Murdaugh kept telling him “how much Paul loved me”.
“He kept telling me how much Paul loved me and when he would say that it would be emotional,” he said.
“He told me several times over the next few days. It was how he would start a conversation with me talking about Paul.”
Mr Crosby also testified how he learned that Mr Murdaugh had been stealing millions of dollars from PMPED clients – and how the probe into missing payments was put on hold because of the murders.
In late May 2021, he said he was told by his fellow partners that it appeared Mr Murdaugh was trying to hide money from the lawsuit brought by the family of Mallory Beach.
He revealed his response was” “Oh f*** no he did not.”
While unethical, he said he did not believe Mr Murdaugh had stolen money at that point.
After the murders, the law firm rallied around him and decided to “leave it be” about the missing money, he said.
Mr Murdaugh lost a lot of weight, wasn’t sleeping and was taking anxiety medication after the killings, he said.
On a July 4 boating trip, Mr Murdaugh also carried a gun – something he said he had never seen him do before.
Then, in September, Mr Crosby testified that he learned from his fellow law firm partners that Mr Murdaugh had been stealing millions from the law firm.
Jeanne Seckinger, PMPED CFO, also testified on Tuesday, revealing that she had confronted Mr Murdaugh over missing payments on the day of Maggie and Paul’s murders.
She told the court that by 7 June 2021 the law firm partners had noticed $792,000 worth of legal fees missing from a case.
When she approached Mr Murdaugh to ask him about it that morning she said he appeared “disgusted” with her.
Hours later, Maggie and Paul were shot dead.
Over the coming months, the law firm partners uncovered an alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme where he had stolen millions from their clients and pocketed it himself – reaching a head with the confrontation and resignation on 3 September.
The day after he was forced to resign, Mr Murdaugh was shot in the head in what turned out to be a botched hitman plot which he orchestrated with alleged accomplice, distant cousin and drug dealer Curtis Eddie Smith. They are now both facing charges over the plot.
Investigations have also been reopened into two other mystery deaths connected to the Murdaugh family after the double murders brought to light a sprawling saga surrounding the once-powerful legal dynasty.
Days on from the shootings on 22 June 2021 an investigtion was reopened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County, South Carolina.
The openly gay teenager, 19, had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.
Months later, an investigation was reopened into the death of the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
She died in 2018 in a mystery trip and fall accident at the family home. Mr Murdaugh then allegedly stole around $4m in a wrongful death settlement from her sons.
Mr Murdaugh is facing life in prison for the murders of Maggie and Paul. He has pleaded not guilty and insists the killer or killers is still at large.