Sparks fly in court over former housekeeper’s testimony in Murdaugh trial
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - The Murdaugh family’s former housekeeper testified Friday in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial that Maggie Murdaugh was worried about money because of litigation the family was facing with the boat crash.
Alex Murdaugh has been on trial for the June 7, 2021, killings of 52-year-old Maggie; and their 22-year-old son, Paul.
The testimony led to tempers flaring between defense attorney Dick Harpootlian and prosecutor John Meadors.
Harpootlian raised an objection to hearing about a conversation from a few months prior to the murders between Blanca Simpson and Maggie Murdaugh.
During the objection, Meadors continues into a question about the family’s financial situation causing Harpootlian to slam folders down on the defense table and move for a mistrial.
“I would move for a mistrial, I don’t think even if you give this jury an instruction, you can’t unring the bell,” Harpootlian said.
Both the objection and the motion for mistrial were denied by Newman.
READ MORE: BLOG: Day 15: Housekeeper testimony ignites dueling objections
Simpson said Maggie told her she was anxious about the amount of money being sought in the 2019 boat case.
“She knew the amount of money they were asking, she thought Alex wasn’t being truthful with her with that lawsuit,” Simpson said. “She said he doesn’t tell me everything.”
Simpson told jurors about the morning of the killings, saying she went to the Moselle home and Maggie and Paul were gone and Alex was still asleep.
Alex Murdaugh left for work wearing a seafoam green polo shirt, khaki pants, blue sports coat and brown leather shoes, Simpson said.
When shown a screenshot of the Snapchat video from Paul Murdaugh’s phone, Simpson said the pants looked to be the same but the shirt was different and said she never saw those clothes again.
Simpson told jurors she got a phone call from Alex Murdaugh on the morning of June 8, 2021, and he said, “B, they’re gone. They’re gone.”
Simpson said she thought he meant they had gone to the Edisto Beach house and he said, “No B, they’re dead.”
Simpson was asked to go to Moselle after going to see Alex and Buster Murdaugh at Almeda.
Pots that would have normally been on the stove from the night before were placed in the refrigerator with the lids on, Simpson said.
She also noted other unusual things in the home like a puddle of water next to a pair of khakis by the shower and a damp towel in the closet.
Maggie’s pajamas were neatly folded in the doorway to the laundry room, Simpson said.
Simpson said she was asked to stay in the Moselle house with her husband until Murdaugh “decided what he wanted to do with it.”
Murdaugh had asked Simpson to meet with him at the home he was staying in after the murders and the shirt he was wearing on the day of the killings was brought up, she said.
Murdaugh began that conversation, she said, by saying he “had a bad feeling” and knew about the video.
Simpson said it didn’t sound like he was asking about it.
“It felt more like he was trying to convince me of the shirt that he was wearing,” Simpson said.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
During cross examination Simpson is shown a photo of the blue raincoat and says she doesn’t recognize it.
The raincoat has been a contested piece of evidence since it was first introduced.
During redirect, Simpson said she had only been to Almeda a few times in response to learning the raincoat was found there.
One of Paul’s lifelong friends, Nathan Tuten, testified about his time working as a courier for Murdaugh’s former law firm.
Tuten testified he would often cash checks for Murdaugh and take him the cash but that stopped just a few weeks before the murders.
Murdaugh also told him he was trying to clear Paul’s name and beat the boat case as Tuten was taking him to the airport around July 4, 2021, for a vacation, Tuten testified.
Eyes were on attorney Mark Tinsley at the beginning of Friday’s testimony.
The defense fought to have Tinsley’s testimony thrown out after learning he made a donation to the GoFundMe of another witness in the trial Thursday.
Newman allowed him to testify Thursday and he came back Friday for more questioning.
Tinsley reiterated Thursday’s testimony that he had filed a motion to compel to get Murdaugh’s bank accounts after being told he was broke.
Tinsley’s cross examination was very short with no mention of the donation.
Jurors also heard from another of Libby Murdaugh’s overnight caretakers who said it was rare for Alex Murdaugh to visit late at night but she had seen Paul Murdaugh often.
FBI Special Agent Matthew Wilde testified about cell phone data collected from the phones of Alex, Maggie and Paul on June 7, 2021, that gave investigators insight into each of their movements that day.
Wilde testified he was not able to find location data for Maggie and Alex.
Wilde said that based on cell tower data Murdaugh would have been near Moselle until approximately 9:10 p.m. before his phone shows movement towards and around Almeda until 9:46 p.m. when he starts back to Moselle.
Harpootlian again asked for an update on the state’s timeline at the end of court Friday.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters assured him they were still on track to rest their case.
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