First witnesses take stand in Murdaugh murder trial

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 4:38 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:07 PM EST
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The prosecution began calling its first witnesses Thursday as it tries to prove former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son.

The first witness to take the stand was Sgt. Daniel Greene with the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Greene was the first law enforcement officer on scene the night Maggie and Paul were killed.

As graphic images were described, all the monitors in the courtroom were covered except for the ones facing the jury, who heard and saw everything without much reaction.

Sgt. Greene said Murdaugh told him he had the shotgun out that night for protection after finding his wife and son’s bodies. The State then played audio clips from Sgt. Greene’s bodycam that night and questioned what Sgt. Greene saw at the scene.

“Did he ask you to confirm they were dead,” the prosecution asked.

“He did. He asked multiple time while I was on scene,” said Sgt. Greene.

“Did you ever see tears, any physical tears,” the prosecution asked.

“I did not,” said Sgt. Greene.

“Did you ever see him approach the bodies,” the prosecution asked.

“I did not see him approach them, no,” said Sgt. Greene.

“Did you observe any visible blood on him,” asked the prosecution.

“There was no blood on him that I could see,” answered Sgt. Greene.

“The bodies, as you saw them, was there a lot of blood around them given the injuries they had suffered,” asked the prosecution.

“Yes there was a pool of blood around each of the bodies that extended out from the body,” said Sgt. Greene.

Sgt. Greene was also questioned about evidence contamination.

“Did you disturb any evidence or anything as you started to go into the feed room,” prosecutor Creighton Waters asked.

“No sir,” Sgt. Greene responded.

“Were you careful to avoid doing that,” Waters asked.

“Yes sir,” Sgt. Greene said.

“Did you kick any shell casings or waddings or anything like that when you stepped into the feed room,” Waters asked.

“No sir,” Sgt. Greene responded.

“Did you step on any bloody footprints when you went into the feed room,” Waters asked.

“No sir,” Sgt. Greene said.

“If you had seen something like that before you had stepped in there, what would you have done,” Waters asked.

“I would have stopped and notified the detective,” Sgt. Greene responded.

The afternoon session saw several witnesses from dispatch to first responders, all detailing the moments after Maggie and Paul were killed from their perspectives. The witness on the stand the longest, Capt. Jason Walker Chapman, who heads up investigations at the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office and arrived on scene about 10 minutes after the first law enforcement.

Here’s how he describes Alex Murdaugh that night.

“He was upset, definitely upset. Like I said I spoke to him on at least two different occasions, and he was breathing hard, his facial expressions were that of torment, but physically see him cry? I did not. He was sweating, but not crying,” Capt. Chapman said.

In Capt. Chapman’s testimony he explained that SLED had been called but wouldn’t arrive for 1-2 hours, so he started the investigation process and tried to preserve evidence. Specifically, he says he put a tent over Maggie Murdaugh’s body to keep it from being rained on as a storm approached.

The initial 911 call was played in the afternoon, prompting tears from Alex.

In the 911 call, the dispatch can be heard saying, “When was the last time you talked to them?

Murdaugh responds, “An hour and a half… two hours ago.”

Waters made a small gesture with papers in his hand, signifying a confidence that he believed that he made a point. During opening statements, the state made clear it believes Murdaugh’s timeline of alibi doesn’t line up.

Later an investigator was called and the prosecution continued their attack on Murdaugh’s innocence. In this moment, prodding at the fact Alex’s hands were clean after claiming in the 911 call that he checked his son’s body.

“If you had to manipulate the body and you had to check his pulse via wrist or neck, with what you saw that night would your hands be bloody?

“If I had attempted, they would have been, yes.”

Court will resume again Friday at 9:30 a.m.

You can find a timeline of events below: