South Carolina prosecutors asked Alex Murdaugh point-blank Friday if he is a "family annihilator" after a brutal cross-examination that spanned two days at his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina.

Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters portrayed Murdaugh as a pill-addled, serial liar who was on the verge of a devastating financial reckoning when he allegedly killed his wife and son in June 2021.

"Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?" Waters asked.

"No I would never hurt Maggie, I would never hurt Paul," he told the Colleton County jury.


Alex Murdaugh wipes his eyes with a white tissue.

Alex Murdaugh weeps on cross-examination Feb. 24, 2021.  (Pool)

The question came toward the end of Waters' nearly nine-hour-long cross-examination, which started Thursday afternoon. 

He methodically challenged an increasingly fatigued Murdaugh over his ever-changing account of what happened the night of the murders.


Murdaugh denied fatally shooting Paul, 22, with a shotgun and Maggie, 52, with a rifle near the dog kennels at their hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, when he took the stand Thursday in his own defense. 

But he admitted that he lied to investigators, friends and family about being there that night.

Waters blasted Murdaugh for claiming he'd fully cooperated with investigators.

"Very cooperative except for maybe the most important fact of all – that you'd been at the murder scene with the victims just minutes before they died?" Waters fired.

"I did not tell them that I went to the kennel," Murdaugh conceded.

The disgraced scion of a once-powerful legal dynasty came clean for the first time publicly on the witness stand after cellphone video recovered from Paul's phone captured the voices of Murdaugh and his wife at 8:45 p.m. 

They can be heard in the background of the clip talking about the family's yellow lab, Bubba, catching a chicken in his mouth.

The evidence contradicted Murdaugh's alibi and placed him at the murder scene about four minutes before prosecutors say Paul and Maggie were shot to death.

"You, like you have done so many times in your life, had to back up and make a new story to fit with the facts?" Waters asked.

"No, sir," Murdaugh replied.

Alex Murdaugh standing in court Feb. 24.

Alex Murdaugh stands during a break in his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 24, 2023.  (Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool)

Murdaugh told jurors he lied because he did not trust investigators and his opioid addiction made him paranoid.

After Paul recorded the cellphone video, Murdaugh said he returned to the main residence at about 8:50 p.m. 

Murdaugh said he didn’t take his cellphone to the kennels, and the device went dark from 8:08 p.m. to 9:02 p.m, according to records. 


Starting at 9:02 p.m., Murdaugh made a flurry of calls and took about 300 steps in four minutes, the data showed.

"At 9:02, you finally have the phone in your hand, moving around and making all these phone calls to manufacture an alibi, is that not true?" asked Waters.

"That's absolutely incorrect," testified Murdaugh, who could not explain what he was doing in those moments.

Murdaugh started up his Chevrolet Suburban at 9:06 p.m. and drove to his ailing mother’s home in nearby Almeda. 

Creighton Waters hands Alex Murdaugh papers.

Creighton Waters, left, cross-examines Alex Murdaugh Thursday Feb. 23 in the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. (Joshua Boucher/ The State/ Pool)

Upon his return, he didn’t find Paul and Maggie at the main house, so he drove down to the kennels arriving at 10:05:57 p.m.

Twenty seconds later, he called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had checked the pulses of his wife and son, who were 30 feet apart, and they had been "badly shot." 

"You got out of the car, according to what you told law enforcement repeatedly, and went and checked the bodies, correct? Before you called 911. Is that correct?" asked Waters zeroing in on the narrow window.


"No, sir, that is not correct," Murdaugh backpedaled. He claimed he checked their bodies while he was on the phone with the dispatcher.

Waters accused him of changing his story yet again after being confronted with data that didn’t support his initial claim.

Murdaugh pinned the murders on a deadly 2019 boat wreck.

Alex Murdaugh has snot dripping down his nose as he cries.

Alex Murdaugh weeps as he testifies Thursday Feb. 23 in his own defense at his double murder trial in Walterboro, South Carolina. ( Grace Beahm Alford/ The Post and Courier/ Pool)

Paul drunkenly crashed his father's boat into a bridge, killing 19-year-old Mallory Beach, injuring four others and triggering a wrongful death lawsuit that set off an unthinkable spiral of destruction for the Murdaugh family.

"I can tell you that at that time, and as I sit here today, that I believe that boat wreck is the reason why PawPaw and Maggie were killed," he said tearfully. "I'm certain." 

Murdaugh said that after Paul was criminally charged in the accident, he was vilified in the press and received threats on social media.

"I believe then, and I believe today that the wrong person, the wrong person saw and read that," he said, adding that he doesn't suspect that any of the boat passengers or their families are responsible.

Waters mocked what he described as Murdaugh's "random vigilantes" theory. These suspects, Waters said, somehow happened to know Paul and Maggie would be alone at the kennels at that exact time and had access to the family's weapons and ammunition.

Lynn Goette, Randy Murdaugh and Buster Murdaugh.

From left, Lynn Murdaugh Goette, Randy Murdaugh and Buster Murdaugh watch as Alex Murdaugh testifies Feb. 23, 2023, in the Colleton County Courthouse. (POOL)

Murdaugh acknowledged that he had a raging opioid addiction and was taking between 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of oxycodone a day. 

Paul, he admitted, confronted him about his drug abuse about one month before the slayings offering a possible motive for the killings. 

The maximum recommended dose for pain is 288 milligrams, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.


Waters also peppered Murdaugh with questions about his botched Sept. 4, 2021, suicide attempt.

 The day after he was forced out of the family law firm for stealing, he asked his drug dealer, Curtis Smith, to kill him so his older son, Buster, could collect a $12 million life insurance payout

But Smith only grazed Murdaugh’s head. Waters suggested that Murdaugh really didn’t intend to kill himself.

Evidence photos used in a trial.

Evidence shown in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday, February 2, 2023.  (Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier/Pool)

"For the first time in your life of privilege and prominence and wealth, when you were facing accountability, each time suddenly you became a victim, and everyone ran to your aid. Isn’t that true?" Waters asked, referring to the double murder and the insurance-fraud scheme.

"I disagree with that," he replied.

On Thursday, Waters spent two-and-a-half hours grilling Murdaugh about the millions he swindled from his clients to fuel his addiction and fund a lavish lifestyle.


Murdaugh repeatedly acknowledged his cons, but Waters insisted on walking him through the most egregious examples.

Prosecutors have argued that Murdaugh, in an act of ruthless self-preservation, killed his wife and son to deflect from his theft of nearly $9 million from his law firm and clients.