Disgraced former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, on trial for the murder of his wife and son in what federal prosecutors described as a scheme to cover up his financial crimes, took the stand today to give his explanation to jurors directly.
But according to one criminal defense lawyer who spoke to The Daily Beast, he might have blown his entire defense right there.
"For criminal defense attorney Duncan Levin ... Murdaugh’s testimony has been nothing short of a 'train wreck that has inched the prosecution significantly closer to a conviction,'" wrote Pilar Melendez. "'It was clear prior to his testimony that his own lawyers did not want him to testify, and now we know why,' Levin told The Daily Beast. 'The prosecution has done a very good job so far at showing the jury who Alex Murdaugh really is. And he really appeared to flounder during cross-examination.'"
“His demeanor was also off, snapping at the prosecutor, who was asking about his financial crimes,” Levin told The Beast. “He repeatedly admitted lying and blamed it on a drug addiction. The question is whether the jury will accept his excuses, and it seems pretty incredible to believe that anyone on the jury was swayed in his direction during his testimony."
One other defense lawyer, Gerald Harmon, disagreed, however, saying that Murdaugh appeared "thoughtful and collected" and likely has not "substantially harmed his case." Per the report, Murdaugh himself made the "final decision" to give the testimony, rather than his legal team.
Murdaugh is accused of shooting his wife and son near the dog kennels on their sprawling estate in South Carolina, the report reiterated. "Prosecutors called over 61 witnesses to detail cell phone data, ballistics evidence, and videos that they contend prove that Murdaugh was the only person who could have killed his wife and son. The evidence undermined Murdaugh’s claim to investigators that he was nowhere near the kennels around the time of the murders," noted Melendez. However, other moments of the prosecution's case were shakier, with one witness giving testimony that may be more beneficial to the defense.
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