Bomb threat interrupts day 13 of Murdaugh murder trial

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 11:53 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2023 at 6:20 PM EST
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - The courtroom was evacuated during day 13 of the Murdaugh murder trial on Wednesday afternoon.

According to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, a bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel. A court official said a male voice made the anonymous call to the Colleton County Courthouse, saying there was a bomb in the judge’s chambers.

Trial resumed Wednesday afternoon after law enforcement investigated the building.

Prior to the evacuation, cross examination continued Wednesday morning.

Megan Fletcher has been brought in as an expert on testing for gunshot residue.

Tuesday, she testified the inside of a raincoat found in a closet at Alex’s parent’s house had a “significant amount” of gunshot primer residue on the inside.

Wednesday, defense attorney Jim Griffin asked about the raincoat potentially being worn by Alex’s father, Randolph, and how residue from Randolph’s shotgun could have been on it for years.

“And it laid on top of this dirty old shotgun, it could have deposited 38 particles of gunshot primer residue, correct,” asked Griffin.

“If the shotgun was not cleaned, there is the potential for the transfer off of the shotgun, yes,” said Fletcher.

“If that shotgun hadn’t been cleaned in years, it would be more likely you’d have gunshot residue deposit on anything that came on top of it, right,” asked Griffin.

“The transfer would be more likely, yes sir,” said Fletcher.

“And you have no idea how gunshot primer residue ended up on that garment, correct,” asked Griffin.

“I cannot tell you how it got there,” said Fletcher.

“Or when it got there,” asked Griffin.

“Or when it got there,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher testified Tuesday that after testing she found one particle of gunshot residue that was found on Alex’s right hand. Wednesday, she agreed that particle could have been on his hand because he grabbed a gun for protection after finding his wife and son’s bodies.

Murdaugh told law enforcement he had the gun and handed it to them when they were on scene investigating the murders that night.

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Alex’s former paralegal, Anette Griswold, also took the stand on Wednesday. Griswold found a check in Alex’s office, showing he diverted client funds.

“I went to his office to look for the file, and when I found it I picked it up, and when I did, a check kind of, floated like a feather to the ground, and when I bent over to pick it up, I saw the check and what it said and had on it. And I instantly became very upset, because it happened to be one of the checks from the Farris case that didn’t exist,” Griswold said.

Alex Murdaugh was allegedly making checks out to an account for “Forge.” His firm already worked with the actual company, Forge Consulting, but the “Forge” account he was sending checks to was an account with Bank of America, which Forge Consulting does not bank with.

A text message Alex sent to both his secretaries in late 2021 was read aloud in court. Alex had lost his job a few months prior and was in rehab at the time he sent the text, although the details of that rehab were not discussed in court.

First, the state picked out one line from the text for the jury to focus on, it reads “The worst part is knowing I did the most damage to those I love.”

But the defense had Alex’s paralegal read the whole thing. Here it is.

“Hey it’s Alex, I’m finally feeling a little better each day. I’m over the worst, but still feel like I have the flu, real weak. I have been worried about y’all and I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell y’all myself. I know both of you have been hurt badly by me. I know it sounds hollow, but I am truly sorry. The better I get the more guilt I have. I have an awful lot to try to make right when I get out of here. The worst part is knowing I did the most damage to those I love the most. I’m not real sure how I let myself get where I did. I’m committed to getting better, and I hope to mend as many relationships as I can. You both are special people and important to me, please know how sorry I am to have made you part of my misdeeds. I hope you are doing as well as possible. I love you very much. Please tell Cheryl and Haley hello and I’m sorry. All my love,” Griswold read the message aloud to the jury.

After testimony this week talked about the “Forge” account, Michael E. Gunn, a Principal & Senior Settlement Consultant for the real Forge Consulting released the following statement on Wednesday, “Forge Consulting has been in business for over 20 years building our reputation on professionalism, experience and integrity. We’ve built our business on the truth and that’s exactly why we’re here today: to tell the truth. I don’t know what happened that horrible night in Islandton when Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were murdered. But I do know that Alex Murdaugh used our good name to defraud his clients, his law firm and countless others. I know that Bank of America could have stopped it all there with a single phone call to verify the truth. Unfortunately, that call was never made. I wonder how much tragedy could have been avoided if it was.”

Forge Consulting also says their attorneys are preparing to take legal action in response to Alex Murdaugh and Bank of America. They say the reputation of their business and credibility has been harmed by the defrauding of millions of dollars from Murdaugh’s clients and colleagues.

You can find a timeline of the case below:

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