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Gunshot residue expert testifies on what she found in Alex Murdaugh case

Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and adult son, Paul, at the family's large estate in Colleton County.

WALTERBORO, S.C. — The Alex Murdaugh double murder trial continues Tuesday as the prosecution continues to make their case a day after the judge said evidence about Murdaugh's financial problems is admissible. 

Murdaugh is accused of killing his wife, Maggie, and adult son, Paul, at the family's large estate in Colleton County in June of 2021. Murdaugh is also facing charges of taking millions from his law firm and clients over several years. 

You can find trial updates here every day.  Live streaming coverage can be on wltx.com, on the WLTX+ streaming app on Amazon Fire and Roku TV, and on the News19 WLTX YouTube page. 

Monday Recap

On Monday, two more people testified without the jury present in the room: Mark Tinsley and Ronnie Crosby.

Tinsley represents the family of Mallory Beach in their civil suit against Alex Murdaugh. He testified he had used the courts to put pressure on Murdaugh to settle the suit for a payout in excess of $1 million. Tinsley didn’t believe Murdaugh’s protestations that he as broke and was filing motions to compel Murdaugh’s financial records. The motion was to be heard in court on June 10, just days before the murders of Paul and Maggie.

Crosby was a former law partner of Murdaugh’s and was at Moselle with other friends, consoling the Murdaugh family on June 8, 2021. Crosby was listening to and participating in conversations between those at the family home and was not representing Alex Murdaugh when he was interviewed by law enforcement.

Before resuming witness testimony before the jury, Judge Newman ruled that he would allow financial crimes testimony in the trial as it pertains to the State’s idea of motive in the case.

The first witness in front of the jury was Libby Murdaugh’s caretaker Shelly Smith.

Smith worked the overnight shift – 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. – at Murdaugh’s parents’ Almeda home. She gave testimony that might disturb Alex’s timeline of events the night of June 7 and other behavior by Alex that disturbed her.

After Smith, SLED Agent Christin Moore testified about a blue tarp-like item collected from Almeda that was said to be at one time in the possession of Alex Murdaugh; William McElveen, a friend of Paul Murdaugh; Natasha Moodie, a consumer resolution associate for Bank of America who identified bank records belonging to Alex Murdaugh that were entered into evidence; and former SLED technician Jamie Hall who performed the gun shot residue collection on evidence gathered at Moselle the night of the murders and later at Almeda.

Alex Murdaugh Trial Updates

Before the jury was in the courtroom, there were arguments about the testimony of Murshelle Smith from Monday. The caregiver was asked about the blue tarp or blue raincoat that was found at Almeda. At one point she says Alex was carrying a rolled-up piece of blue vinyl cloth which she called a tarp. Both a blue tarp and a blue raincoat were found at Almeda and taken in evidence to test for gunshot residue.

Judge Newman ruled the testimony is not inadmissible and it is for the jury to decide what weight to place on her testimony. He said there have been over 400 pieces of evidence so far and the blue tarp and blue raincoat are included in that number. He denied the defense’s motion to strike Smith’s testimony. The judge ruled that even though she may have appeared confused at times on the stand, she did identify what she thought was the item in Alex’s possession and therefore Smith’s testimony will be admitted.

After the jury is seated, Creighton Waters, representing the State, calls Jeanne Seckinger.

Jeanne Seckinger, CFO and COO of PMPED

Seckinger is a chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO) at Alex Murdaugh’s former law firm PMPE. She has been there since 1999. She grew up in Hampton County and has known Alex Murdaugh since childhood.

Seckinger states, according to their employment agreement, any fees the attorneys make belong to the firm. Attorneys are employees of the firm. Partners are paid $125,000 per year, with a bonus at the end of the year that is based on the net income of the firm at the end of the year.

Seckinger explains the net income is figured after overhead (cost for daily operations – office supplies, insurance, rent, etc.) subtracted out. From the net, 7% is taken off the top and divided between staff with any remaining money divided between partners, based on percentage of business brought in to the firm

Was it typical for most of Alex Murdaugh’s income to be the yearend bonus? Yes

And all fees belong to the firm? Yes

Seckinger identifies a copy of the employee agreement everyone at the firm is asked to sign. In the agreement, partners are described/defined as shareholders.

She testifies, at the end of the year the books are cleared in order to avoid taxes on anything left in the accounts. In January and February, partners loan the firm money to start off the first of the year until there are enough fees coming in to sustain the business. The loan is optional, and Seckinger testifies Alex never contributed.

Seckinger explained a client trust account is where settlements/recoveries are placed before they are disbursed to clients. Any work lawyers in the firm do to provide legal services belongs to the law firm and must run through law firm’s books. Any money diverted, Seckinger says, is stealing.

Seckinger handled day-to-day operations and went to the partner committee if she had issues. Alex not involved in management of firm.

Seckinger says Alex kept different hours than the rest – that he was always loud, always busy, always last minute and frenetic, always on the phone. She thinks Alex was more successful through manipulation of parties into settlements, not his craft as a lawyer. She observed he used the emotion of the case and his clients to get solutions. Alex as able to read the client and seemed to get higher settlements than expected. ”He got lucrative results for his clients,” she testifies.

Seckinger says, looking back, when Alex looked as if he was bored with details, not finishing things, when he would tell one person one thing, one person another; Seckinger now believes he had a strong, almost photographic memory.

Seckinger was asked about finances at first of 2017 – when a reimbursement check for the payment of the first-of-the-year loan to PMPED was mistakenly written to Alex Murdaugh rather than his brother Randolph (Randy) Murdaugh for $121,328.

She says it was a clerical error. Days later, she testifies, Alex acted as if he had lost the check and a second check was issued and cashed. The transaction was caught when he cashed both checks and paid money he was not owed. Alex got the money twice, cashing the original check a year later. Confronted at the time by Danny Henderson, Alex claimed he thought he had paid the loan money and was allowed to pay the money back to the firm. Other lawyers in the firm accepted Alex’s word because they trusted him as a brotherhood.

Seckinger testifies she is familiar with the Feb. 2019 boat case and knows Paul was charged in the case and Alex was being sued.

She said in November and December of 2020, she noticed Alex making disbursements from the firm that became sloppy. In hindsight, she says it’s noticeable.

Disbursement payments after a settlement will list any liens (insurance, medical fees) before passing the balance to client. Fee amounts are supported by information supplied by lawyers. In May 2021, Seckinger testifies, she noticed a disbursement where the fees were made out to Forge Consulting rather than going to the firm. Forge Consulting is a true company that can do structured settlements for clients and has been used 250-300 times by the law firm for its clients.

Structured payments set up fees that puts money into annuity to avoid taxes and funds are paid over time rather than in a lump sum.

Seckinger said structures must be agreed upon and approved by all lawyers at firm. Generally, the lawyers get 33-40% of a settlement, depending on the amount of work done and state of the case.

Waters: If a lawyer wins a big case and decides they want to structure the fee, can they do that? Seckinger: As long as the partners know, it must be done through the insurance company and go to Forge Consulting so tax information is correct. It’s not standard practice for lawyers to do this.

May 2017, the Hershberger account noted money disbursed to Forge. Seckinger identifies multiple disbursements. She points out one check for PMPED attorney fees made payable to Forge and she went to Alex, the attorney on the case, to talk about it. She said she told him if there was to be a structure, he needed to properly set it up with insurance company on the front end.

Seckinger testifes the firm would not write a check to directly Forge. The disbursement sheet fees come out of recovery and are separate from attorney fees and cover any cost used to litigate the case. Liens from insurance companies can be negotiates down and any money saved goes to client. There may be money in the account to cover outstanding liens while bill negotiation continues but the major disbursement goes to client first.

Documents show a check labeled PMPED attorney fee to Forge for $833K signed by Alex.

Seckinger said she confronted Alex about it and he responded he was not worried about tax ramifications involving the money as he was trying to get money in Maggie’s name because of boat accident. This explanation concerned her because it’s hiding assets and she didn’t want firm to be a part of it.

The matter was tabled for time being to figure out how to work it out in the firm’s books. Final closing of accounting books is done in December and Seckinger was more concerned with how to put Alex’s check in books, alert the partners in the firm and notify the lawyers in boat case.

In May 2021, Annette Griswold, Alex’s paralegal, came to Seckinger and said she needed to talk to Seckinger in private. Griswold had another concern in the Ferris file where there was a large settlement handled by the Chris Wilson Law Firm. Alex was the only attorney in the PMPED on the case. Fees were to be split between Alex and Wilson. Griswold was concerned that she received only a check for expenses, not fees and contacted Seckinger to see if fees check was missing. Griswold was concerned Alex had the fees check paid directly to him.

Seckinger identifies a packet of documents, including emails from Vicky Lyman (Wilson’s paralegal) and Griswold. Seckinger’s concern was Alex stole the fees. She sent an email to Alex to get copies of complete disbursement record from Wilson’s office and the copy of the full records in the PMPED office.

Griswold forwarded the email to Lyman on May 27, 2021, and reply sent on June 2, 2021, clarifying the documents needed.

Seckinger said Alex came into her office and told her, “the money is in Chris’ trust, why do you need the information?” She said he assured her the money was there and he’d get the documentation.

Seckinger went to Lee Cope, another partner at PMPED, about the issue.

On June 7, 2021, Seckinger testified she went to look for Alex and found him standing, leaning on a file cabinet outside his office and asked her “what do you need now?” She told him she had seen where he had received the money directly and she needed to see the ledger. She testifies Alex told her he was leaving it in Wilson’s trust as he was trying to decide to put more money in Maggie’s name. During the conversation Seckinger says Alex got the call his father was in hospital, and he was terminal. She says the conversation turned personal, she thought he was going to see his father and left.

Around 4 p.m., Seckinger was surprised Alex as called her, asking about his 401K balance he needed to get financials together for boat case later that week. Around 10:30 p.m., Seckinger gets calls about Paul and Maggie being shot and sent texts to other attorneys and got response around 2 a.m., confirming they heard been shot and killed.

Everybody in the firm was scared, Seckinger testified. They spent time with Alex, supporting him, and no business happened the rest of the week. No one was concerned about getting the details of the settlement, they were worried for Alex’s mental state. He was erratic.

As weeks went on, Seckinger got information from Lee Cope and Chris Wilson. On July 19, 2021, an email forwarded by Alex from Wilson where Wilson stated the money is there, in Wilson’s trust account, seemed to put the matter to bed.

Seckinger identifies the email sent to her from Wilson to Alex to her and Lee Cope from Alex. A total of $792K was supposed to be in Wilson’s trust. Seckinger wanted to believe it, but has reservations.

Alex is not in office much after murders.

The Hershburger matter comes back to Seckinger’s notice in September when she begins to go through Alex’s fees for the year.

Griswold found a check on Alex’s desk for $225K noted as “Ferris Fees” from Wilson trust account made out to Alex Murdaugh personally, not the firm. Seckinger knows then that Alex has been lying -- the check was dated March 10, 2021.

Seckinger printed out Forge ledger and notices cancelled checks with Alex’s signature on a Bank of America account (the real Forge Consulting company banked with Palmetto State Bank). Mark Ball was shown the checks and knew one check was a workers comp that wouldn’t have been sent to Forge.

Lee Cope then contacted Michael Gunn directly to verify structures on certain cases and asked Gunn if he banked at Bank of America. Gunn said Forge had not banked at BOfA in years and there were no structures made in the names on Cope’s list.

Alex’s signature was on the back of all the checks Seckinger had printed from the ledger and the checks had been deposited in a BOfA account. Seckinger knew Alex had stolen the fees.

A check directly written to Alex used a false Forge account. Seckinger found the bank statements with Alex doing business as Forge with Alex’s home address as contact. Murdaugh had set up a fake Forge account in his name that looked like Gunn’s Forge Consulting at first glance, and was depositing checks in a personal account that should have been going to PMPED. Generally, Seckinger testifies, the “fake Forge” account was taking client money, sometimes PMPED money.

After a reminder from Judge Newman that this testimony goes to motive, not the character of witness, Seckinger identifies for the court a spreadsheet of the fake Forge account she prepared based on an investigation by forensic accountants and the FBI. Seckinger testified PMPED self-reported to authorities 10 years of documents involved in this case.

The spreadsheet shows date of the fake Forge check, who the funds were stolen from, a case number, and the amount of money paid back by PMPED partners.

Seckinger says a partner meeting Sept 3, 2021, did not include Alex. The partners came to a consensus to show Randy Murdaugh the fake Forge account information and Seckinger testifies Randy Murdaugh said, “he stole it, we need to do something about it.”

When confronted with the fake Forge information, Alex admitted stealing the money and was forced to resign.

Seckinger then enters a laundry list of fake Forge checks Alex used to divert money from clients and the PMPED firm to his personal account.

PMPED’s forensic accounting shows Audirana Hay disbursement recovery funds of $247,500; Attorney fee of $22,000; Costs of $426; Disbursement of $225,073.43 to Forge/AM shown on cancelled check. When asked about the status of the money now, Seckinger said, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>> Barret Bouleware: $279,852.85/to Forge/AM, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>A $75,193 insurance check never came through PMPED books, went directly to AM, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>> Herschberger: $83,333.33 attorney fees to Forge/AM personal account; $91,867.50 to Forge on behalf of estate of Jacob Hirschberger (client money) “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Blondell Gary: $112,500 structure for Angel; $112,500 to Forge in April 2019; “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Christopher Anderson: $750,000 to Forge Feb. 20, 2020; there were multiple recoveries in this case, the client unaware of a second settlement and AM took the second settlement Feb 20, 2020

>>>Dionne Martin: structured directly to Michael Gunn (no verifiable structure to Gunn) where Alex took a phony $200,000 fee on 8/20, 2015; another disbursement on Oct 6, 2015, to Forge for $338,056.14 signed by Alex; disbursement structured to FF $45,000; “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>> Elise Mallory: total recovered, 183,528; Attorney fee $38K to PMPED for Alex Murdaugh; remaining $152,866 paid to Forge on Nov. 30, 2020; none of the money went to the client. It went to Alex’s fees or Forge account; in summer 2021, Alex’s paralegal wants another check, but the money was already disbursed. Alex says he wants to give some of his attorney fees to client

>>>Jamieon Rischer: multiple disbursements $90K to Forge, September 1, 2016; expenses cost for travel and Austin airline services, meals in NYC are ultimately refunded to client because billed after the case was closed. “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Johnny Bush: $90K to Forge, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Jordan Jenks: $85K to Forge on August 1, 2018; $65K second disbursement to Forge Oct. 4, 2018. “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Manuel Christiani: $70K to Forge on 8/16/2016, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Mary Duncan: $19,500 to Forge 10/3/2019, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Randy Dravy: $9,569.30 to Forge 10/3/2017, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

>>>Thomas Moore: $125K to Forge with Moore’s alleged forged signature, “Paid back by firm because Alex stole it.”

Seckinger says the fake Forge account was not the only thing she found when she started looking into Alex’s accounts as PMPED CFO – she identifies a list of payments stolen from Palmetto State Bank (PSB) beginning in 2012 totaling $2.8 million

On the surface, Seckinger testifies, the checks written on Palmetto State Bank (PSB) account was found to pay Alex’s personal loans, expenses, etc.

Seckinger discloses Russell Laffitte is her brother in law.

On check shows a Badger disbursement $1.254,000 attorney fees credited to Alex. And a check for  $1,325,000 went to converting payments on Alex’s behalf 11/19/2012; an additional $30K was paid to Russell Laffitte

Email from Russell Laffitte to Alex asks Seckinger to recut checks for four different amounts on Feb.6, 2013 AM.

Alex emails Laffitte asking checks totaling $1.325M to pay obligations on loans by Alex

>>>Natasha Thomas: $15K to RF as conservator; 325K to PSB & converted to AM loans & equipment 12/20/2011; money held for liens $110,967 from Medicaid never went to client; remainder that never went to client $25,245.08. On 6/13/2012 – payments are shown going to Charlie Laffitte, conservatorship loans (Russell Laffitte), boat payments, and a cashier’s check to Randolph Murdaugh

>>>Russell Laffitte as conservator related to Natasha Thomas: legal fees for AM $4,098,000; $60K to conservator fee; $309,581.46 – money went to boat loan, charter bank loan, AM personal loan with Russell Laffitte

Seckinger is asked about Alex’s use of the PMPED credit card. The card was used for personal items and she said what Alex owed was deducted from his yearend bonus so money would get paid back to the firm. When that was happening, firm unaware of embezzlement.


Judge reiterates the limited testimony given here limited purpose to assist the State in proving motive; not for Alex’s character or propensity to commit crimes; the testimony is allowed based on State’s representation to explain motive behind the killings of Paul and Maggie.

Griffin: A listing of clients in the firm, the firm had to reimburse because of Alex’s misconduct? Seckinger: yes

Have you been working with law enforcement since 2021 on these statements? Yes

The firm has paid out over $2.8M and in a way the law firm is also a victim? Yes

For everything the law firm has to repay, Alex is facing charges on, every single one? Yes

Alex is not here today on financial charges, but he is on trial for murders of wife and son on June 7? Ytes

Alex’s conduct been going on since 2011, some 10 years before Maggie and Paul’s murder? Yes. He was able to fool a lot of people. It was a betrayal of trust.

I’m not trying to diminish the hurt and anger you feel, I’m trying to flush out the connection to the murder of Maggie and Paul. The misappropriation was going on for years, costing law firm over $5M Yes

We’re talking about the lawyers in firm, the money comes out of their pockets? Yes

On June 7, 2021, the day Maggie and Paul were murdered, you went to Alex’s office in afternoon to get to the bottom of the fees checks Chris Wilson wrote in the Ferris case? Yes

You wouldn’t be doing your job if you didn’t do this? Yes

Did Alex’s demeanor change, said funds in Wilson’s trust acct? yes

September 20,2021, Griswold found a cancelled check written directly to Alex, not Forge Consulting? Yes

Of all of these papers in evidence, this was the only time where Alex got a check written directly to him rather then PMPEN? There was another time with Chris Wilson, but it was not discovered by me

Everything else involving the fake Forge account, some involving Palmetto State Bank? Correct

Events of June 7, asking Alex about fee money, you spoke to Lee Cope and wasn’t the concern that Alex was shielding income from disclosure as he was a defendant in the boat case? Yes, we thought he was trying to reduce income by transferring money. Alex admitted he wasn’t concerned about tax issues because he was trying to hide money from civil court proceeding.

No one thought Alex was stealing money at the time? I had suspicions

You saw in May 2021 the money going to Hershberger? We’d only structured a case once before

Your concern was that’s not how you do it (structure) because it looked money came into the firm and not accounted for? Alex did not discuss the structure with firm

When Alex gave his explanation and you said it wasn’t proper form, he said he doesn’t care, he was trying to get money in Maggie’s name, help Michael Gunn out, and you didn’t discuss Hershberger again? No

The Chris Wilson issue was the settlement in Mack truck case, firm got money and where’s the fee? You went in on June 7 to ask Alex about it and needed proof he had not gotten money? Yes

During that time Alex got call about his father? Yes

When you learned Alex’s father was terminal you left? In the firm, we are family oriented and I assumed he was leaving to take care of his father’s situation

Later you learned Maggie and Paul had been murdered? Yes

Your initial reaction was scared? Yes. When it happened, we didn’t know who came after his family or of they’d come to the office.

Your mind didn’t go to “I bet he killed wife and son because I asked about Ferris fee”? No

You didn’t continue the questioning about the Ferris fee? Lee Cope advised me he was taking over

The inquiry didn’t stop with the murders? My part did

It stopped for how long? A few weeks, maybe a month

The murders got Alex a reprieve of a month? We never got information, so it was continued

Did you ever ask Maggie about Ferris? Ever have a conversation with Maggie or with Paul about the funds? No

The firm had money to operate but needed funds to go back to balance books in set 2021. You’re doing CFO job and Hershburger is on desk, and you said you have personal issues and commitments, and Paul and Maggie’s murders didn’t delay follow up on the Hershberger matter? In sone ways, yes, things around the office were hectic, but the true issue was with my time

In September 2021 you’re looking for any other structured fees like in Hershberger case? Yes

So, you ran report at firm? Seckinger ran record of payments to Forge and found cancelled checks

Do you remember what Alex Murdaugh’s fee collections were that year? He had around a $1-2M fee income

Did that include Ferris? No

After you found the fake Forge account, Alex was forced to resign the next day and money coming into the firm was used to pay Alex’s clients? Yes

The discovery of the fake Forge account shocked you? Yes

The information had been in the firm’s accounting system going back to 2015 when the fake Forge account was first opened? Yes, but there was no reason to look, no reason to suspect Alex

Clients weren’t calling and complaining on June 7? No, and shamefully clients were shocked and confused, saying they trusted him

No “pressure cooker” forming around Alex? I was putting pressure on him about the Ferris fees

In the firm’s brotherhood, if someone got more than what they thought they were supposed to, they’d pay it back, let bygones be bygones? Because of trust, yes

On Sept 3, 2021, you were running the report, and you find a lot of Forge checks? Yes

And that’s how you discovered Alex was signing checks to Forge? Yes

Pure coincidence? Yes

And Alex was confronted on June 3? I did mine (initial confrontation) on June 2

On the afternoon of June 7, Alex called you about the balance on his 401K plan and told you he was working on a balance for a financial statement in the boat case? Yes

You know he had no life insurance on Maggie and Paul? I had no knowledge of that.

REDIRECT by Waters

You were asked about the conversation you had with Alex about the Ferris fees, what was the concern? He was trying to hide income from the boat wreck

Did you have knowledge of all of this? No, I did not

About the double loan payments, Alex paid back the money and it was ok? Yes

All the information was in your system since 2011 and he’d gotten away with it since then? That’s right

You had suspicions and demanded what? Demanded proof the money was in the account. I had reason to believe he making fees payable to him

Was his father in the law firm, his grandfather was it the most prominent law firm in the area? Yes

After murders happened, you thought it was not right to raise the issues again? We were trying to make sure Alex was ok and didn’t want to pressure him about anything. On July 19, Chris Wilson messaged me and says he has the money in trust. I had suspensions because I had not seen ledger and there was no reason to send the email if nothing was going on

When ultimately you turned back to the issues and Chris Wilson’s check was found, did that result in uncovering all of this and Alex losing his job at the firm? Losing his license and facing a ton of criminal charges based on that? Yes

Was Alex on the cusp of being discovered? Yes

Finding the Chris Wilson check was coincidental of research on Forge account? Yes, but when the fake Forge account was found there was a problem

The Chrsi Wilson issue is a one-off compared to the other evidence you found? Yes

Ronnie Crosby

Crosby is an attorney at Parker Law Group, formerly PMPED. And has known Alex Murdaugh since late 1990s. The firm’s name change, and formation of a separate legal entity came after Murdaugh’s issues came to light.

Crosby testifies all fees collected by legal work belong to law firm, with annual salary and net profits divided at yearend for the annual bonus. That was the understanding for everyone. Alex had up and down years like everyone else but had good clientele but could generate 6- and 7-figure bonuses.

Is it common for lawyers inside and outside the firm to share cases? Yes

And if there’s a recovery, you split fees? Yes. There may be multiple firms and litigators usually settled on a percentage or split up front

If a lawyer in PMPED has a fees disbursement made to the lawyer rather than the firm? That is stealing because the money doesn’t come to firm

Your observation of the defendant’s cell phone usage? Much more than I do, Alex was always on his phone

Your observation of his skills as lawyer? Very good lawyer, good with people, very good at reading people, understanding people, making people believe he cares about them, strategizing against insurance companies

He has a good of understanding the emotional value of a case and exploiting that? Yes, that goes hand in hand with that I said

As far as a real student of the law? No, he was more of a general practitioner

Did you have a general idea of Alex’s financial situation? I did. Alex and Barrett Bouleware did some real estate transactions and purchased property, speculating they could develop it. Then the market went bad and they didn’t have financial ability to deal with loans and had financial difficulty

Did he have big cases to rectify? There were cases that resulted in rectifying the issues, and some of the property they sold

Some of those cases? Referred to within the firm aa Plyer, Pinckney, Badger… those cases would have been large cases

Large legal fees? Alex would have earned good oncome off those cases

Are you familiar with boat case? Yes

The case where Mallory Beach was killed? Yes, Mallory Beach worked for my wife

You understood Alex had been sued? Yes, there was a civil case

Any conversation with Alex about structuring fees? That conversation came up with later. Sometime in Spring 2021, I had convo with Alex about that. He asked how it was done, if it was a good idea.

Crosby said he wouldn’t recommend a structure because of the low interest rates at the time, but Alex was thinking about doing a structure

Crosby testifies he was the only one at PMPED setting up structures. He explains the structured settlement process and tax advantages.

Do you know Gloria Satterfield? I knew her for years. When my children were first born, she helped my wife with things.

Crosby’s understanding is Gloria was tripped by Alex and Maggie’s dogs, hit her head, and died three weeks later. He remembers Alex saying the kids were going to sue him for Gloria’s death.

Was it an aggressive suit? Crosby testifies it was to be a friendly insurance claim in hopes the insurance company would pay some amount of money to Gloria’s boys.

Are you familiar about Ferris, or Mack truck, case? Very familiar

Were you involved? I was asked to get involved because it dealt with product failure where drive shaft fell off truck causing motorist to have an accident. There was a recall on the trucks, so Mack was going to pay.

You were involved as lawyer? I did not help try the case

Another lawyer was involved? A Columbia lawyer got Chris Wilson involved and Wilson asked Alex to get involved

What was Alex’s share of the recovery? In Feb 2021, the I believe the share to PMPED was $792K

Did you have a discussion Jeanne Seckinger close to time Alex was asking about structured fees? She was trying to get financials in Ferris case and thought she was getting the runaround and thought Alex was hiding money from the boat case.

Your first reaction? Oh f**k no. We are not. It would have subjected the firm to scrutiny and trouble with SC Bar. Jeanne had been told the money was in trust at Wilson’s office and there were a myriad of reasons – tax fraud included – that it wasn’t going to happen. If Akex did an annuity from Chris’ account, it would have to be accounted for. Crosby testifies he didn’t think there was any stealing going on in late May 2021.

You’ve known Alex from late 1990s? Known Maggie? Known Paul? Crosby testifies he has known Paul since the day he was born. He and Buster referred to him as Uncle Ronnie. When Paul got into hunting, he and Buster hunted on his property. Paul was really good with kids and took a liking to Crosby’s son who was younger, and Paul would take him hunting. Paul was a really good personality. Someone I loved, Crosby said.

Paul would come over? Yes, and my son would go to Moselle and hunt with Paul

Remember June 7, 2021? Did you see Alex that day? I don’t recall him at the office, but it was fishing season so I left work early to take my son fishing

Home at the time? Crosby said he was getting his boat ready. His son had invited Paul to go fishing the next day but Paul said he had to work.

How did you find out about Paul and Maggie, a phone call or text? Crosby said his wife got a phone call from Randy Murdaugh and Crosby called back and asked what was going on and Randy told him Paul and Maggie were shot. Crosby said he was in a state of shock and alarm, got in vehicle and headed to Moselle. He said he arrived around 11 p.m.

Crosby said when he got there, he saw lights at kennels. He is familiar with Moselle and went to lights at kennel through the main gate on what used to be a runway and went to kennels. He said he got out of car and spoke to Mark Ball and Alex. Maggie and Paul were still there.

Did you talk to Alex that night? I did

How long did you stay? Stayed outside until about 3:30 a.m. at the house, didn’t know what to say or do. He knew Alex was going to have some long days ahead and said he was going home. Crosby testifies he was the first to leave around 3:30

Did you return? I did

Did you have a conversation with Alex the next day? Yes

Did Alex tell you or relate to you his thoughts about what happened? Crosby testifies: I gained an understanding of the night over conversations. Being a lawyer, we wanted to contribute anything that might tell who did this.

Did Alex say anything about what he did that day? He told me, multiple people supplying support. He got to Mosells around 5:30, Paul came home and they rode around went back to house had dinner, and Maggie as there. After dinner, Maggie and Paul went to dog kennels and he sat on the couch and went to sleep.

Crosby said Alex told him around 9, he woke up and went to Varnville to check on his mother. He said he laid on the bed with her (took it to mean to comfort her) then came back to Moselle, went to the house. He got to the house and discovered Maggie and Paul were not there and drove to the kennels and discovered Maggie’s and Paul’s bodies

Alex did not say he went to the kennels with Paul and Maggie? Crosby testifies, he specifically said he did not.

Waters plays video taken by Paul at kennels and asks him if he recognizes any voices. Crosby says the three voices are Paul Murdagh, Maggie Murdaugh, and Alex Murdaugh

How sure are you? 100 percent sure

The law firm is close knit? Yes, a group of lawyers have a family-like environment with staff and families that grew up together, a great experience working with these guys.

A shockwave went through the family? Yes. Beyond the horror and disbelief, we didn’t have a sense. We had to take a lot of security measures, the horrific loss of Paul… the kids and Maggie came up to the office to use computers or visit Alex. It was a big loss.

We rallied around Alex and Mr Randolph passed away in the wake of this, we were together for support.

About the Ferris fees? The only discussion was when Alex told us the fees were in trust. No way we’re talking about money; no reason not to believe Alex; Crosby trusted Alex and said leave it be.

In July 2021, the firm has heard from Wilson the money was in trust? Yes. That was further reason to believe Alex, because of work history with Wilson and Crosby believed Wilson.

Did you eulogized Paul at his funeral? Yes

Your son liked to hunt and fish with Paul? He did. Paul was a polite young man and would call to say he when he was hunting

Did Paul have a favorite gun? He had a 12-gauge Benelli super black eagle; he’d hunt hogs with a 300 blackout with a nightscope.

Were you privy to a conversation where Alex discussed the family’s 300 Blackouts? Crosby testifies he saw the casings that night and thought they were 223s. When he found out they were 300s, he asked where Paul’s 300 was and Ales said one was in Paul’s room, one had been stolen or misplaced and he had bought a replacement at one time.

Did he say what had happened to replacement? Never heard anything about the replacement. Bedingfield built those rifles.

Moving into July and August, there was some conversation about Wilson and those fees? That’s correct

Any trials going on for you? Crosby says he was getting ready for a product liability trial that would last a few weeks

Any communication about Alex? The firm was taking care on September 2, Crosby was arguing pretrial motions and noticed a missed call from Mark Ball. Crosby called Ball and Crosby said Ball said “we have a problem.” Crosby was walking out of court and Ball told him to meet him in Cummings, SC. Crosby went there because Ball was so insistent.

Upon arriving, Crosby says he was given a folder of paperwork with copies of canceled checks -- both front and back -- and was asked to review them

Were those the fake Forge account checks? There were about four or five of them and the Ferris check, Crosby said. He continues, Danny said I’d need a drink. He said he was allowed to review the file on his own. His first response was Alex had to be terminated it was clear what had happened. Alex stole the money.

Crosby said did not go to the partner meeting where Alex was told to resign because of court. He understands Alex told the partners he knew he as going to get caught at some time and admitted he did it.

Ultimately, did the firm do an extensive investigation, in regards to firm fees and client money? Yes, we did. We tuned over information to law enforcement and decided to hire a forensic lawyer and continue the ongoing internal investigation.

Jeanne Seckinger was the point person.

Have you seen documentation? I am very familiar with it

Accurate? The documents in evidence are accurate

From June 2021, going back years, if you as a partner at PMPED found out the defendant was diverting money to personal use, what would you have done? If I had found out about it, he would have been terminated

If diverting fees? He would have been asked to resign or a vote would have been called and he would be asked to resign and reported to law enforcement as well as the South Carolina Bar.

If checks diverted from PSB bank to personal funds? Asked to resign or terminated, reported to law enforcement as well as anyone involved at the bank foe money laundering

ON CROSS by Griffin

I was struck by comment you made and I want to confirm it. You were not at the meeting when Alex was confronted yet you said Alex said. “I knew I was going to be caught.” Crosby: that’s what I recall

And you were asked to eulogize Paul? And Paul was a super nice guy? Yes, to both

Paul carried around a Benelli Super Black Eagle? Yes

Would you be able to pick out the gun (Griffin holds the camouflaged rifle already entered into evidence)? That looks like Pauls’ gun bit I cannot say it is Paul’s gun

You knew where to drive you were able to get to the kennels? Correct. Its not far, a couple of hundred yards

You say you saw shell casings? I don’t think I saw everything when I was there. I think I saw one in the driveway closer to the road from Paul and Maggie’s bodies

Were you able to get through crime scene tape? I don’t’ recall crime scene tape

Were the bodies covered? Yes

But you were able to get close into the crime scene to determine shell casings? Yes, I walked completely around the hangar and talked to officers and rescue people to get their assessment of the situation. I could see from a distance and am familiar with firearms and thought I could recognize the caliber.

You afterward found out they were 300s? yes

And you started to assist any way you could to find out who could do this? I didn’t that night, we were shocked. In the days following, we had talks between partners and I and were theorizing with very little information if Paul had been in an argument with anyone. Just asking questions.

You went to Jimmy Butlers? Bulters sells trailors and portable buildings. Crosby testifies he learned Paul had taken his truck there the Friday before the murders

His white F-150 was in the shop at Jimmy Butlers? Yes, I was going to see if Paul’s guns were in the truck at the shop. I asked for surveillance footage to see if Paul took guns from one truck to another. Crosby said he looked in Paul’s truck and saw a pistol

No long guns? No

You didn’t see Paul removing guns from truck when he got into truck with Mr Rowe? No, I could see him get out of one vehicle and into another

And you were at kennels the day after? I was asked to go there by Alex

Were there still blood and biological material at the scene? Yes

And did you notice there was some still birdshot pellets in the feed room not collected by SLED agents? Yes. That’s what they appeared to be

Did you gather them up? Did I? Jim, Mr. Griffin, the area in that room… while we could see them… we thought we would clean it up… but it so overwhelmed us and we saw… the aftermath. It was overwhelming us…. So, no I did not try to collect evidence.

The scene is still etched in your memory? Yes

When you were down there the first time, you went up to Mark Ball? He got there a bit earlier than I

Did it seem the crime scene was being preserved on the night of June 7? I saw people working through the crime scene and I assume what was being done. I am not comfortable givng an opinion.

At some point were you and Mark directed to go to main residence? We were and I don’t remember who told us, but I can tell you it was about the time the photographer began taking photos of the scene

Who went to the house? I did, Mark did, Austin Crosby, Danny Henderson Randy Murdaugh, John Marvin, Alex at some point with some officers when he came; maybe Chris Wilson may have, there may have been a couple of others

Has anybody from law enforcement inspected residence before you went it? I don’t know what it would look like. It was my perception if had not been searched yet

And Alex came in around the same time as two agents and they collected his clothes? Yes, one standing in doorway and one in foyer.

Did the agent open bag and Alex dumped clothes in it? It seemed the agent was holding bag open, and Alex had clothes in fingers and dropped in a bag. It was a pretty fast exchange.

The clothes not put on a hanger? No, Alex in bedroom long enough to change clothes  

You mentioned in an interview with SLED that Alex has irritating quirks, he’d take calls in the middle of a deposition? Yes, in the middle of conversations, depositions, in partner meetings, he’d take a call and walk out the room.

When asked about the Ferris fee issue, he was trying to shelter fees to? My concern was not that he was stealing but wanting to hide fees or money to take fees from Chris Wilson’s account so there would be no record of them.

After the murders of Maggie and Paul, the immediate aftermath, did Alex come to office much? It was sporadic, I knew he was having a lot of trouble sleeping and he’d just lost his family and his father, and we were aware he was taking medicine to help him sleep, and for anxiety. So, even if he came in, he was sleeping in his chair.

Notice changes in his physical appearance? He was losing weight, not eating well

The night of June 7, what was hid demeanor? He was upset, I could tell that. We cried together, he kept telling me how much Paul loved me.

Did Alex spend a lot his time with Buster in Summerville, Starting in June? I knew he and Maggie’s parents had a good relationship and remember texts mentioning he was with Maggie’s parents

Do you remember him coming to your place on July 4? I don’t remember that, I remember inviting John Marvin to the house and Alex and Buster came by boat

Alex was carrying a gun? He was carrying a gun and a shopping bag

Did he ever carry a gun before the murders? No

Alex put out a reward for information about murders of Paul & Maggie? I remember a reward being put out and firm agreed to fund it

Ever pay anyone for that reward? No

Know Alex for how long? Total of 25 years of so

Forensic scientist Megan Fletcher

Fletcher began at SLED in 2007 in forensics laboratory as a trace evidence forensics scientist and has been doing this over 15 years.

Gunshot residue is everything that comes out of the gun when fired. Gunshot primer residue is examined with an electron microscope and energy dispersive X-ray (edx) components. With trace evidence, she is able to examine all types of evidence.

On a live person, is there a timeline for collecting gunshot residue? After 6 hours we will not analyze  gunshot residue because it is so easily disbursed. Even after 4 hours, the residue is not destroyed but transferred.

If someone washed their hands, would you still test? We expect most to be gone but we will still test because maybe all is not gone.

Fletcher explains: What we’re testing to determine is if the person or items were in the vicinity (2-3 feet next to or 60 feet in front) or if they shot or if the residue was transferred. If someone else shot the gun and you shook hands or handled a recently fired gun, you would get transfer.

Gunshot residue travels with shot so there is a possibility of transferring GSR by touching a wounded body.

Waters asks, If I fired a firearm, where would you look for GSR? If I knew that was what you were wearing, I’d test the right arm/chest, left arm/chest, necktie and shoes.

And my hands? Hands are best because GSR can stay on clothes until clothes are washed and there’s no way to tell when the GSR got on the clothes. On inanimate objects, GSR can stay indefinitely until removed.

Let’s say I’m dead and I fall down. Do you expect to find GSR on me? Yes. The majority of GSR comes out of the muzzle of the firearm and follows path of bullet.

Will SLED test bodies? No SLED has not tested bodies since Jan. 2022, because the lack of probative information on a test of a person. The victim has already been established to be near gunshot.

Did you have an occasion to examine items in this case for gunshot residue? Yes

Jamie Hall called you in while examining these items? Yes, she noticed a strong smell of laundry detergent while taking lifts off the shirt and pants on June 8

Fletcher describes the clothing the first time she saw it in evidence: White shirt with small stain and cargo shorts that were clean.

The particles she was looking for she said was like finding something the size of a pea on two football fields. A computer looks at the clothing and then she takes the computer results and examines the area

She found particles characteristic of GSR were found on the shirt, no time frame as to when the particles got there. On the shirt, the particles were found right sleeve/right chest and left sleeve/left chest. in her opinion, the t-shirt was in the vicinity of a gun being shot or came in contact with something with GSR on it.

The pants had GSR on right groin area and left groin area and was in the vicinity of a gun being shot or came in contact with something with GSR on it.

The lifts taken from Alex Murdaugh’s hands showed GSR was found.

The shoes Alex Murdaugh was wearing had no GSR on them.

Other than the submission slip, do you know anything about the case? Only that it was a priority request

At this time, you examined shirt pants, hands and shoes on June 8? Yes

The same day Hall smelled the shirt? Yes

Anything else received in this case that you examined? Yes

Are you present when Hall does a particle lift and if there is a particle lift on an unusual item? Yes

A seatbelt would be an abnormal item. It was examined September 21, 2021. Did you assist Hall in getting g particle list? Yes. Fletcher testifies that Hall and Fletcher took samples form buckle, the latch plate, and strap. They took samples from three sections of the belt, from both sides. There was GSR found on the buckle.

Fletcher also did a GSR test on what she calls “a blue poncho.” This was the blue raincoat presented in evidence Monday afternoon after Mushelle Smith’s testimony.

Fletcher said the poncho was large enough it was laid out across two tables when the tests particle lifts were taken by Fletcher and Hall in October 2021. They were told there night by transfer on the poncho so they determined to sample everything, left/right chest, outside of hood, whole middle of chest, including pocket, bottom of left, bottom of right, left and right sleeves on back of jacket, handwarmer pocket on front, inside the handwarmer and out – a total of 13 particle lifts from the outside of the poncho. No particles detected inside handwarmer. Particles of GSR were found on the outside of the poncho. They turned the poncho inside out and checked the interior of the poncho because they were told someone may have been wearing it. They took samples from hood, front right sleeve, left front sleeve, area directly behind chest pocket, right and left sleeves from the back. GSR was found inside the jacket. In her opinion, there was significant particles indicative of GSR inside the jacket.

Fletcher said there may have been more particles, but she made decision to stop where she did, because of the number already confirmed. If she had checked every single particle, it would have taken about a week. In this case, she stopped after determining when to stop.

In her expert opinion, the GSR was consistent with the poncho being in the area of a recently fired firearm. There was more residue inside the poncho than the outside of the poncho.

If a recently fired firearm was wrapped in the poncho, would that be constant with your findings? Yes.

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