Judge to allow roadside shooting evidence in Murdaugh trial

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 3:04 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 16, 2023 at 5:44 PM EST
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Judge Clifton Newman started day 19 of the Murdaugh murder trial with authority, explaining why he changed his mind and will now allow further evidence of the roadside shooting into this trial.

A reminder, initially he said it was a bridge too far.

“Then the defense decided to build a road over that bridge, decided to just go right there as if they could dance through fire without getting burned, scarred or anything... a door was opened,” Judge Newman said.

With roadside shooting evidence back on the table, the state started with something completely different - an independent crime scene analyst they brought in to check their investigation’s findings.

“Every conclusion I came to was in spite of any preexisting conclusions. I made my own conclusions,” Crime Scene Reconstruction Analyst Dr. Kenneth Kinsey said.

The prosecution had the witness explain how he believes Paul was shot, mainly focusing on the first non-lethal wound.

“In your expert opinion is there any way that Paul’s arms were raised when he suffered that first blast to the chest,” prosecutor Creighton Waters asked.

“I see no possible way his arms were up when he suffered that first shotgun wound,” Kinsey said.

The defense’s argument was centered more on the fatal shot to Paul, getting into trajectories and angles. All suggesting the second shot came from a shorter height than the first.

“So, what you’re saying is whoever shot him was holding the shotgun that low,” defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said.

“Really low, yes sir,” Kinsey said.

“The shotgun would’ve been about like this? About like this? Ok. So that’s the trajectory, that’s where the barrel of the shotgun would have had to have been.”

“In my opinion yes sir.”

From there court focused on the roadside shooting, as the state ran through several pieces of evidence from September of 2021 where they say Alex kept his story consistent. First, the 911 call.

“I got a flat tire, somebody stopped to help me... and when I turned my back they tried to shoot me.”

Then an interview from the ambulance.

“I turned my head and then boom.”

Alex’s story staying consistent that he pulled off to the side of the road with a flat tire, a man he didn’t know stopped and offered to help, then shot him in the head by surprise. His description of the shooter remaining consistent as well.

“That is the composite sketch created with the assistance of Mr. Murdaugh.”

Alex revealed more than a week later all of that information was a lie.

“I thought it would be better for me not to be here anymore,” said Murdaugh.

“What do you mean by not to be here?”

“I though that it would make it easier on my family for me to be dead.”

That was a phone interview where Alex admitted to SLED everything he had told them about the roadside shooting was untrue, and it was actually an assisted suicide scheme to get his remaining son Buster upwards of 10 million dollars in life insurance money.

Prosecutors tying all of this together while questioning the agent who led the roadside investigation.

“Prior to that conversation over the course of the 911 call, the ambulance, and multiple interviews at the hospital, did Alex Murdaugh ever mention or identify Curtis Edward Smith at all until his lies about the side of the road were exposed?”


They went on to focus on the fact that Alex denied the man that shot him on the side of the road, Curtis Eddie Smith, had anything to do with the murders of his wife and son.

Otherwise not much of a connection was pointed out to the jury and the defense will cross examine that witness tomorrow.