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Alex Murdaugh trial shown phone data narrowing down time of murders to seconds – live



Alex Murdaugh cries as court shown video from dog kennels before murders

Alex Murdaugh’s chilling final text to his wife moments after he allegedly killed her and their son was revealed in court during his murder trial on Tuesday.

Mr Murdaugh, the powerful heir to a prominent South Carolina legal dynasty, is accused of shooting dead Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, at the family’s estate in Islandton on 7 June 2021. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jurors were shown data from the cellphones of Maggie, Paul and Mr Murdaugh on the night of the murders.

Prosecutors say that Mr Murdaugh shot Paul first at 8.50pm and Maggie after.


Almost immediately after, cellphone data shows Mr Murdaugh made several calls to Maggie and other family members. His last text message to his wife came at 9.47pm, writing: “Call me babe.”

Minutes later, he called 911 claiming to have found their bodies.

Mr Murdaugh’s cousin also took the stand, testifying that the 54-year-old had purchased a number of guns from him in the years before the murders – guns that matched the one used to kill Maggie.

The trial is only one of Mr Murdaugh’s troubles in a saga spanning a botched hitman plot, multi-million-dollar fraud schemes, and unexplained deaths.

Live: Fifth day of testimony in Alex Murdaugh murder trial


There is a further question from the defence team about the “springboard” feature on the home screen of iPhones that allows for quick launch of the camera function.

It is proposed that Maggie may have been trying to activate the camera to take photo of her killer and that may also account for the orientation changes.

Lt Dove cannot testify to that.

Court breaks for lunch until 2.35pm.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 18:24


The prosecution also revisits how Maggie’s phone camera turned on for about one second.


Lt Dove says when it’s activated by a person, it would usually stay on for at least several seconds. In this context, and taking into account the other events logged by the phone such as orientation changes, his opinion is that the camera was most likely trying to focus on a face to unlock the phone with facial recognition.

No further questions from the prosecution.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 18:21


Returning to Alex’s step count, he took 195 steps between 9.22pm and 9.32pm and another 60 steps between 9.35pm and 9.45pm.

The prosecution again reiterates that the step count is not completely accurate but also records distances in metres — this is also an approximation. What Lt Dove can concede is that 60 steps is likely going to be a shorter distance than 195 steps.

Maggie’s texts are also revisited, underlining that Alex asked her to come to the house that day.


Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 18:16


Prosecution argues that there would have been no orientation change of Maggie’s phone if the screen was off.

The contention here is that the phone was thrown after the 9.06pm call from Alex Murdaugh.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 18:07


Defence has no further questions and prosecution begins redirect.


Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:59


While there was only a little location information extracted from Maggie’s phone, the defence also notes that some of the data on it may have been automatically deleted or overwritten.

The phone data was not extracted until eight days after the murders and Lt Dove concedes that some data may have been lost in that time.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:57


Alex Murdaugh’s car starts at 9.06.48pm after a period in which he was walking around according to his phone.


No connection to the Bluetooth system in the car was recorded on his phone.

Maggie’s phone was found about 15 feet from a country road approximately a mile and a half from the Moselle Road property.

An orientation change would only occur if it were thrown a certain way. Lt Dove cannot say if the final orientation change of Maggie’s phone was it being thrown from a vehicle.

The final change in orientation came as Alex called Maggie’s phone at 9.06pm. Defence argues that seeing the call coming in may have instigated the person with the phone to throw it.

Lt Dove cannot testify about what might cause someone to throw the phone.

Defence is arguing that Alex was walking, starting his car, and calling his wife when the phone was thrown out of a moving vehicle.

Lt Dove says the phones do not appear to be together as they weren’t recording steps together, only Alex’s was.


Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:44


Defence wants to focus on the timeframe from 8.50pm to 9.08pm — the time when it is thought Paul and Maggie were killed and the time that Alex sent the message to Maggie saying he was going to visit his mother.

Looking at the timeline for Maggie’s phone, the display goes off at 8.49:28pm and the phone goes to landscape mode. The phone is locked two seconds later.

At 8.53pm the display comes on but the phone remains locked. 12 seconds later the phone goes to portrait mode.

At 8.53pm the phone records 59 steps and ends at 8.55pm after about two and half minutes. The distance covered is approximately 31 metres.

The display goes off at 8.53.28pm and comes back on four seconds later.


Defence asks when Siri was last activated — it was at 8.53.20pm — during the period in which steps were recorded.

At 8.54.32pm the screen comes on and the camera is activated two seconds later while the phone remains locked. The camera goes off one second later.

At 8.54.40pm the orientation mode changes to landscape mode.

At 8.55.04pm the display goes off and the orientation mode switches to portrait.

The screen then goes on and off throughout the period during which Alex was calling and texting Maggie.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:29


After Lt Dove says he had no involvement in the processing of the entertainment system in the Chevy Suburban SUV. He says he has seen the results.

Defence turns to Maggie’s text messages from the afternoon of the murders in which she is discussing the health of Alex Murdaugh’s father Randolph who is very ill in hospital with pneumonia. She hopes the hospital can make him comfortable.

Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:14


Defence asks about Siri on Maggie’s phone and records of that being activated either by voice command or holding the side button of the phone.

Bringing up Al Johnson, a retired FBI forensic analyst and private investigator who worked on the case, the defence asks if there is any correlation between the steps taken by Maggie and Alex. Lt Gove says he does not think there is, but if there were, they would be closely matched in time and number of steps, but not necessarily the same.

In saying they do not match up, it makes it difficult to argue that Alex took both phones after the murders. However, Maggie’s phone was found approximately a mile away.


Oliver O’Connell1 February 2023 17:04

Source: Independent

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