On the night that Maggie Murdaugh was shot to death alongside her son, Paul, she received a text from her husband’s phone that said “Call me, babe.”
According to court testimony, that text was sent at 9:47 p.m. on June 7, 2021 — after Maggie was already dead. Prosecutors also alleged that Alex Murdaugh attempted to call Maggie’s phone multiple times after the killings, in an attempt to create an alibi.
In court on Tuesday, jurors heard testimony from Britt Dove, who works in the computer crimes unit for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. Dove explained the timeline of Maggie’s phone usage.
Dove testified that Maggie made a phone call at 7:50 p.m. on the evening of the murders. That call, to a woman named Barbara, lasted for approximately three minutes.
Maggie did not use her cellphone again, prosecutors say. At approximately 9:06 p.m., after prosecutors believe she was dead, the phone camera activated for about a second.
Dove testified that there was a logical explanation for that.
“It appears the phone’s being moved and the camera’s activating in the background to see if it would recognize somebody’s face that would unlock it,” Dove told jurors. Seconds later, the phone’s orientation changed, which suggests that someone picked up the phone.
According to Dove, Maggie’s phone then missed three separate calls from Alex Murdaugh in the next 40 minutes. At 9:47 p.m., he sent the final text: “Call me, babe.”
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Alex Murdaugh called 911 shortly after 10 p.m., claiming that he had just discovered the bodies of his wife and son near the dog kennels of the family’s estate.
The cellphone was not with Maggie when police arrived; investigators later discovered it discarded outside the gates of the family’s estate.
According to court testimony, authorities suspect that the once-prominent attorney shot and killed the pair that evening. Then, they say, he changed clothes and visited his ailing mother to establish an alibi. Prosecutors contend the phone and text record was an additional attempt to account for his whereabouts that night.
Paul Murdaugh was shot in the chest and head with a shotgun at close range. Maggie was shot multiple times, including one shot in the back and additional shots while she was lying on the ground. She had been shot with 300 Blackout ammo from an AR-style rifle. Both of them were pronounced dead at the scene.
Prosecutors say that Alex Murdaugh was the gunman, but the defense maintains that he was a loving father who stumbled upon the bodies of his wife and son.
Alex Murdaugh is currently facing two counts of murder and two weapons charges in this trial. He has pleaded not guilty.
Even if Murdaugh is acquitted in this trial, he will have more legal woes. He faces dozens of charges for alleged financial crimes, including misappropriating money from his law firm, defrauding clients of funds and computer crimes. Authorities allege that he also defrauded the family of his former housekeeper out of a $4.5 million insurance settlement after she died in a mysterious slip-and-fall accident at his home. A trial for those charges will be held at a later date.
Murdaugh’s murder trial is expected to last at least two more weeks.