Alex Murdaugh trial: Jury could visit kennels where murders took place

The 12-person jury in disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh's double murder trial could visit the dog kennels on Murdaugh's property where his deceased wife, Maggie, and son Paul were fatally shot in June 2021.

Murdaugh is accused of gunning down Paul and Maggie using a rifle and shotgun near the dog kennels on their sprawling 1,700-acre hunting estate known as Moselle in Islandton, South Carolina.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters said in his opening statements Wednesday that he hopes to take the jury to the kennels where the murders took place. Murdaugh claims he was napping and therefore not present at the crime scene on the night of Maggie's and Paul's murder, but Waters alleges he was and has cellphone data and video evidence to prove it.

"He was there just minutes before, with Maggie and Paul, just minutes before their cellphones went silent forever and ever," Waters said in his opening statement.

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On the night of the murders, Paul apparently recorded a Snapchat video send to his friend around 8:45 p.m.

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"On that video … you'll hear from witnesses that identify Paul's voice, Maggie's voice, and Alex's voice. He told anyone who would listen that he was never there. … The evidence will show that he was there. He was at the murder scene with the two victims," Waters said.

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Just minutes after that Snapchat video was recorded, "Paul's phone locks forever," Waters continued. Maggie's phone then apparently locked just before 8:50, "and she never answers another text, never receives another text, never answers another phone call," Waters alleged.

Murdaugh family posing in front of a tractor.
From left, Buster Murdaugh, 26, his mother Maggie Murdaugh, his brother Paul Murdaugh and his father Alex Murdaugh. Alex is accused of fatally shooting Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, June 7, 2021.

Earlier in his opening statements, Waters said that about a week after the murders, Alex Murdaugh went to his mother's home unexpectedly and was seen going "upstairs" with a tarp-like substance. The substance was later determined to be a blue raincoat that was covered in gunshot residue, Waters said. He added that jurors would be hearing from Murdaugh's mother's caretaker. Murdaugh's mother suffers from advanced Alzheimer's, he said.

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Cell phone evidence from Maggie's, Paul's and Alex's devices are "key," Waters said.

The prosecutor concluded his opening statements by saying: "Alex murdered Maggie and Paul. He was the storm. The storm was coming for them … just like the storms that are headed for here right now."

Prosecutors alleged Murdaugh used a shotgun to blow off his son's head, which was "severed" from his body, leaving apparent brain splatter at the crime scene, according to court papers.

Maggie was shot with a semiautomatic rifle five times — including in the back of the head — and died about 30 yards from her son, according to police and court papers. 

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Prosecutors have suggested that the family patriarch murdered Paul and Maggie over mounting debts and fear that his decades-long schemes to embezzle money from his clients would be exposed.

A man wearing a plaid shirt exits a courthouse while surrounded by police.
Alex Murdaugh is led out of the Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.

Murdaugh has denied involvement. He alleges that he found his wife and son's lifeless bodies at 10:06 p.m. when he placed a hysterical 911 call to police. He has one surviving son, Richard "Buster" Murdaugh.

The disgraced lawyer appeared to cry and wipe his tears Wednesday as his defense attorney, Dick Harpoolitan, described the violent nature of Maggie's and Paul's murders, arguing that their executions were too violent for a loving father to carry out.

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"He didn't do it. He didn't kill — butcher — his son and wife. And you need to put from your mind any suggestion that he did," Harpoolitan stated.

The former attorney faces a total of 99 financial criminal charges stemming from 19 indictments.

Fox News' Rebecca Rosenberg contributed to this report.