Prosecutors in South Carolina have revealed that 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh sent a Snapchat video to his friends shortly before he was shot.
Murdaugh’s father Alex, scion of one of the state’s most famous legal families, will appear in court Monday charged with the murders of Paul and his mother Maggie, 52.
Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found dead at the family’s hunting lodge in June 2021.
Prosecutors allege Alex, whose life spiraled out of control amid years of opioid addiction and mounting debt, lured his wife and son to the 1,700-acre lodge and shot them.
Alex Murdaugh pleaded not guilty in June, and the blockbuster trial, which is expected to last three weeks, with rampant allegations of dark family secrets, financial ruin and hedonistic excess, is being watched with suspense across the country.
On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed that a Snapchat video was “crucial to the case.”
Paul Murdaugh (right) was shot dead in June 2021. On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed he sent a Snapchat video to friends about an hour before his death. His father Alex (left) will be charged with murder on Monday
From left: Paul, Alex, Maggie and Buster Murdaugh in a photo posted in January 2019
Several views of the scene where Paul was shot were in the court records
The 22-year-old was shot dead in the feeding room linked to the Mosel properties’ dog kennels, while his mother was shot five times in the back of the head with a semi-automatic rifle – the pair died just 30 meters apart
The video was sent by Paul just before 8pm the night he was killed.
Investigators believe he and his mother died between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Prosecutors are requesting permission to call a Snapchat manager to testify to the video’s accuracy.
“Critical to the case is video sent to several friends around 7:56 p.m. on the night of the killings,” wrote Senior Assistant Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters.
“The content of this video is important in proving the state’s argument.”
Waters asked Judge Clifton Newman to order the Snapchat representative to appear in court.
Newman signed the order.
“Because this video was provided by Snapchat, a Snapchat operator must personally attest that the video is a truthful and accurate record maintained in the ordinary course of business,” Waters argued.
They did not reveal what was seen in the Snapchat video.
Murdaugh (pictured centre), the heir to a once powerful legal dynasty, is accused of shooting dead his youngest son Paul (left) and his wife Maggie (right) and is due to appear in court on Monday
A crime scene photo that appears to show drops of blood on the floor, a mannequin and an evidence marker in the feed room where Paul was fatally shot
Earlier this week, State Forensic Expert Dr. Kenneth Kinsey Paul’s Terrible Wounds.
In his affidavit, Kinsey said Paul Murdaugh was shot twice – with the second bullet entering his left shoulder, neck and brain.
Kinsey said his “brain is completely separate from the head.”
The 22-year-old was first hit in the chest while standing in the feeding room attached to the Mosel property’s kennel while his mother was shot five times, including in the back of the head, with a semi-automatic rifle.
The couple died just 30 meters apart.
Kinsey’s description matched a December FitsNews report, in which the outlet said Paul’s head “exploded like a watermelon.”
“I mean, you can see his face, but the rest, his head, is just gone. Completely blank,” a source who viewed the crime scene photos told the news site.
The affidavit was included in a motion filed Tuesday by Murdaugh’s attorneys, asking Judge Clifton Newman to bar a blood spatter expert from testifying for the state at the upcoming trial.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) hired Oklahoma-based forensic scientist Tom Bevel to analyze a white T-shirt worn by Murdaugh on the night of the murders.
Defense attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian argued in an earlier filing that any blood on the shirt was transferred when Murdaugh found the bodies and “frantically checked them for signs of life.”
The court filing also included a close-up of the blood spatter, which saw Paul shot twice – once in the chest and a second time entering his left shoulder, his neck and brain
But Bevel concluded that the T-shirt was “stained with high-velocity blood spatter resulting from the shooting of Maggie and Paul” after his initial report stating that the stains “were with transfers and not back spatter from a gunshot wound matched”.
Murdaugh’s attorneys accused SLED of “pushing” Bevel to change his report.
The T-shirt was later destroyed “for forensic testing by the unnecessary application of an oxidizing chemical stain,” court filings say.
Bevel’s first report only came to light when prosecutors from the South Carolina Attorney’s Office inadvertently provided a copy to Murdaugh’s defense team, the filing states.
The white T-shirt is a crucial piece of evidence for prosecutors, who have implied in court filings that the family patriarch shot his wife and son after fears his decades-long corruption schemes would be exposed.
In the affidavit, Kinsey said he could not determine whether the stains on Murdaugh’s T-shirt matched back spatter.
Murdaugh was indicted by a grand jury in July 2022, and the Colleton County trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection, which officials say could last until February 10.