Murdaugh’s close friend gives testimony on alleged financial crimes

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 12:06 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2023 at 5:25 PM EST
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COLLETON CO., S.C. (WTOC) - Thursday marks day 14 in the Murdaugh murder trial.

Alex Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife Maggie and son Paul on June 7, 2021.

Chris Wilson, an attorney and Murdaugh’s close friend, took the stand Thursday morning. Wilson gave emotional testimony last week about Alex’s alleged financial crimes, but this is the first time the jury has been present for his testimony.

Wilson talked about how it was not uncommon for him to call on Alex to help his firm with cases. Murdaugh told Wilson he was putting the attorney fees from a case they were working on into an annuity, and checks needed to be made out directly to him.

Murdaugh told him this was because he was worried about legal fees from the boat crash.

Wilson testified that he knew Alex well and had no reason to not trust him. But in May 2021, Alex’s paralegal sent an email questioning where the fees were that were meant to be paid to Alex’s firm.

“I called Alex, said Alex, I got this email from your firm. They’re asking about issues with cost, that you think you got more costs that are owed to you. I put down on the settlement statement, I wrote the checks for the amount of cost you gave me, but if there are more costs outstanding, just figure out what they are because we’ve been holding some money back. And I think at that point we were waiting on a medical lien to resolve and I don’t think the client will have a problem paying the cost out of what we’re holding back... I said Alex this is the case that you asked me to write the fee checks directly to you, is everything alright? And he said yeah, everything is fine, just need to make sure my partners know that this is the same case, that you wrote the checks to me and it’s already on the books,” Wilson said.

“Did you believe him,” asked prosecutor Creighton Waters.

“Yes sir,” replied Wilson.

Wilson says Alex talked to him on the phone multiple times the night Maggie and Paul were killed.

Once at 9:20 p.m. when Alex said he was almost at his mom’s house and again at 9:53 p.m. He says they talked about a case they were working on and Alex said he was almost home.

Wilson went to Moselle that night after finding out about the murders and stayed there most of the following days because he was worried Alex would kill himself.

Alex was visibly crying as Wilson discussed the night of Maggie and Paul’s death.

Months later, after the murders, Wilson was told about Alex’s financial wrongs and confronted him the morning of September 4th.

“I’m sure I said f or h or something, I said what the ____ is going on? I need to know what’s going on. He said he had a drug addiction and then he admitted that he was stealing money.”

Wilson says they have not talked since that day when Alex confessed to stealing money.

The defense circled back to the night of the murders in cross examination.

“As far as you knew as of June 7th there was no issue with the fee right?” asked defense attorney Jim Griffin.

“I didn’t know about any issue with the fees prior to June the 7th,” said Wilson.

Murdaugh’s attorneys suggesting a lack of correlation between financial crimes revealed months later and the murders of his family members in June.

“At no point in time, when you’re thinking he might hurt himself, you weren’t thinking he had any involvement through June or July... this period of time... with the murders of Maggie and Paul?

No sir.”

After that line of questioning, the defense’s cross examination continued for almost an hour

Below is a timeline of the Murdaugh case: