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Alex Murdaugh trial: Two friends ‘100%’ certain it is his voice in video minutes before murders

Two friends of Paul Murdaugh have testified that they are “100 per cent sure” that it is Alex Murdaugh’s voice in a video recorded just minutes before the brutal double murder of his son and wife Maggie – in a dramatic moment that ripped open the disgraced legal scion’s alibi.

Rogan Gibson, the friend whom Paul was texting around the time of the murders, gave bombshell testimony at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Wednesday afternoon.

He was asked about a video shown to the court earlier in the day, in which Paul is filming the tail of a dog he was looking after for a friend inside the kennels on the sprawling 1,700-acre Moselle estate in Islandton.

Three separate and distinct voices are heard in the footage – two male and one female.

One of the male voices belongs to Paul, who is heard talking to the dog.

The female voice – believed to be that of his mother Maggie – is heard saying that the dog has a bird in its mouth.

A third male voice can be heard shouting inaudibly in the background.

On the witness stand, Mr Gibson told the court that he is now 100 per cent sure that the voices on the video are Paul, Maggie, and Alex – his “second family”.

A second friend Will Loving echoed Mr Gibson’s comments, saying that he too was “100 per cent” certain that the voices in the footage were of Mr Murdaugh, Paul and Maggie.

Cellphone data shows that the video was recorded for 58 seconds from 8.44.49pm to 8.45.47pm.

Minutes later at around 8.50pm, Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were both brutally shot dead at the dog kennels, in a grisly crime that left both victims in a pool of their own blood.

Mr Murdaugh has claimed that he was up at the family home napping at the time.

As the footage was played in court, the once-powerful heir to a South Carolina legal empire appeared to rock his head up and down and cry.

Under cross examination from defence attorney Jim Griffin, Mr Gibson said Mr Murdaugh was like a second father to him.

He said the relationship between father and son was excellent, and he couldn’t imagine Mr Murdaugh killing his two relatives in such a gruesome manner.

He added that Paul was constantly on his mobile phone, and it would often run out of battery.

Asked about threats to Paul’s life after a fatal 2019 boating accident that claimed Mallory Beach’s life, Mr Gibson said that Paul had received some threats, but he hadn’t thought they were that serious. At the time of Paul’s death he was awaiting trial on the charges.

In opening statements, prosecutor Creighton Waters said that a Snapchat video would be “critical” to the case proving that Mr Murdaugh, 54, gunned down his wife and son in a horrific double murder to try to cover up a series of financial crimes.

Mr Waters said that the video places Mr Murdaugh at the dog kennels at the time of the murders – at a time when he claims he was back at the family home napping.

Alex Murdaugh places his hand over his face at his murder trial (2022 The State Media Company)
Alex Murdaugh places his hand over his face at his murder trial (2022 The State Media Company)

Prosecutors claim that Paul was shot dead first at around 8.50pm, followed by Maggie – with cellphone data being used to narrow down the murders to a precise eight-second window.

During testimony from SLED Lt. Britt Dove, who works in the computer crimes centre at the state agency, jurors heard how Paul FaceTime called his friend Rogan Gibson at 8.40pm and then again at 8.44.33pm, with the last call lasting 11 seconds.

After that brief call, Lt Dove testified Paul sent his final text message to Megan Kimbrell 8.48.05pm. The pair were messaging back and forth at the time. She messaged him back and Paul read the text message at 8.48.59pm.

This was the last activity on his phone.

Maggie last read a message on her cellphone at 8.49.27pm – the same group message from Mr Murdaugh’s siste.

Eight seconds later at 8.49.35pm, Mr Gibson sent Paul a text message but it went unread.

After 8.49pm, Maggie didn’t open or respond to messages or calls from several people including her husband, oldest son Buster and Mr Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin Murdaugh.

Among the unread messages were come from Mr Murdaugh, including a chilling final text at 9.47pm simply reading: “Call me babe.”

In dramatic courtroom testimony, jurors also heard that calls Mr Murdaugh made to his wife on the night of the murders were mysteriously later “deleted” from his call log.

In court on Tuesday, Lt Dove testified that Mr Murdaugh had called Maggie five times between 9.04pm and 10.03pm on the night of 7 June 2021 after he had allegedly killed her and Paul. None of the calls were answered.

As well as Maggie, Mr Murdaugh also made several calls to other numbers.

Minutes after the final call to Maggie at 10.03pm, Mr Murdaugh called 911 at 10.07pm claiming to have found their bodies.

Lt Dove, who processed the three cellphones belonging to Mr Murdaugh, Maggie and Paul, testified that the trove of phone calls Mr Murdaugh made to his wife’s cellphone after he allegedly shot the victims dead was missing from his call log.

According to the call log on his cellphone, Mr Murdaugh placed two outgoing calls on FaceTime on 4 June 2021 – one at 3.41pm and the second at 4.35pm. Both calls were uanswered.

Those were the last calls recorded in the call log until 10.25pm on 7 June 2021, when Mr Murdaugh appeared to place another outgoing FaceTime call.

Alex Murdaugh seen in bodycam footage on the scene of the murders (Colleton County Court)
Alex Murdaugh seen in bodycam footage on the scene of the murders (Colleton County Court)

The only explanation for the missing data is that the call logs were manually and intentionally deleted from the cellphone sometime between the 7 June 2021 murders and his phone being seized by authorities in September 2021.

“A gap like that would indicate that it was actually removed from there,” the agent testified

The SLED agent was asked if there was any other way to explain the gap in the call log, to which he testified: “No.”

“So those calls were deleted, correct?” the prosecutor asked.

Lt Dove confirmed: “It would appear that way.”

Lt Dove testified that he was unable to determine who had deleted the call logs but confirmed that it had been done sometime in the three months between the night of 7 June and Mr Murdaugh’s phone being seized in September.

Prosecutors also scrutinised other activity on Mr Murdaugh’s cellphone on the night of the murders, including an almost one-hour gap in health data where the phone was not moving and recorded zero steps.

The gap – between 8.09pm and 9.02pm – where no steps were recorded shows that no one was moving round with or walking with the phone at that time, Lt Dove said.

The lack of movement was contrasted to the movements on either side of the gap, with 74 steps recorded between 8.05pm from 8.09pm and 283 steps between 9.02pm and 9.06pm. At 9.08pm, six minutes after movement resumed, Mr Murdaugh sent Maggie a text claiming he was going to visit his mother.

Mr Murdaugh’s habits of reading messages was also under the spotlight.

Jurors heard how he received a message about his ailing father from his sister Lynn Murdaugh in a family group chat at 8.31pm but didn’t read it until 1.44pm the next day – despite sending the text to Maggie at 9.08pm.

Typically, cellphone data shows Mr Murdaugh usually read texts between 5 and 40 minutes of receiving them.

During testimony on Tuesday, jurors heard how Maggie’s phone orientation changed from portrait to landscape at 8.54pm and then again at 9.06pm, indicating that it was in someone’s hands.

Health app data also tracked 59 steps on Maggie’s cellphone in the two minutes after 8.53pm – after prosecutors allege Maggie and Paul were already dead.

“It tells me someone was holding this phone and took steps, and it recorded those steps,” said Lt Dove.

Maggie’s phone was locked between 8.49pm on 7 June 2021 and 1.10pm the following day when it was found dumped by the side of Moselle Road around a quarter of a mile from the Murdaugh property.

Under cross-examination, the defence casts doubt on the theory that it could have been Mr Murdaugh who threw Maggie’s phone along the side of Moselle Road, when Lt Dove admitted that cellphone data suggested Maggie and Mr Murdaugh’s phones were not in the same place at the same time.

The step data on the two phones did not match up, including at 9.06pm when only Mr Murdaugh’s was tracking steps.

“It appears the phones were not together being moved by the same person because they are not (both) recording steps,” Lt Dove testified.

Step data on Mr Murdaugh’s phone shows that he was walking around at 9.06pm – the same time that his car started.

At the same minute, Mr Murdaugh called his wife and the final orientation change took place on Maggie’s phone.

Lt Dove testified that this movement could have been as it was being thrown from a vehicle to where it was discovered the next day – with defence attorney Phillip Barber suggesting that the call from Mr Murdaugh may have prompted an unknown assailant to get rid of the phone.

Five missed calls made by Alex Murdaugh to Maggie Murdaugh’s phone after her murder (Colleton County Court)
Five missed calls made by Alex Murdaugh to Maggie Murdaugh’s phone after her murder (Colleton County Court)

Based on this version of events, the defence asserted that Mr Murdaugh could not have gotten rid of his wife’s phone as he was at the home, walking round and starting his car at the time it took place.

However, under redirect, prosecutors cast doubt on the defence’s timeframe for when the phone was tossed from a car down Moselle Lane.

The SLED agent testified that the screen on Maggie’s phone was off between 9.07pm and 9.31pm.

When the screen on a phone is off, it does not show an orientation change, Lt Dove testified.

“If the screen is off it won’t show an orientation change,” he told the court.

Based on this, if the phone was thrown from a car down the lane between 9.07pm and 9.31pm, there would have been no orientation change.

Mr Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and son.

Prosecutors claim he shot dead his family members in an attempt to distract from a string of other scandals and crimes encircling him. He denies the allegations, insisting that their killer or killers is still at large.

At the time of the murders, Mr Murdaugh was believed to be facing financial ruin from a 20-year opioid addiction and – one day earlier – had been confronted by his law firm PMPED over an alleged multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.

Now, Mr Murdaugh is charged with more than 100 counts from multiple indictments alleging he stole nearly $8.5m from clients at his law firm in fraud schemes going back a decade.

Crime scene photos show shell casings on the floor of the dog feed house (Law & Crime)
Crime scene photos show shell casings on the floor of the dog feed house (Law & Crime)

The attorney, who has since been disbarred, allegedly represented the clients in wrongful death settlements before pocketing the money for himself.

Alleged victims include family members of Gloria Satterfield family, the Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died in a mysterious trip and fall accident at the family home in 2018.

At the time, her death was regarded as an accidental fall – though the investigation was reopened after Maggie and Paul’s murders.

Three months on from the murders – on 4 September 2021 – Mr Murdaugh allegedly conspired to pay a hitman to shoot him dead so that Buster would inherit a $10m life insurance windfall.

The now-disbarred attorney initially claimed he was ambushed in a drive-by shooting while changing a tyre on his vehicle, but his story quickly unravelled and he confessed to orchestrating the plot.

Mr Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirator Curtis Smith were arrested and charged over the incident.

As well as the deaths of Beach and Satterfield, questions have also surfaced about other mystery deaths surrounding the Murdaughs.

Stephen Smith, 19, was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County, South Carolina.

The openly gay teenager had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.

An investigation was reopened into his death after Maggie and Paul’s murders.