US ex-lawyer Alex Murdaugh admits in murder trial lying about nap

The heir to a once-powerful South Carolina legal dynasty has been accused of changing his alibi in the middle of his murder trial.

Prosecutors allege Alex Murdaugh, 54, killed his wife and son in a ploy to distract from his financial crimes.

Mr Murdaugh had said he was not at the crime scene shortly before the murders until evidence presented in court disproved his account.

He faces 30 years to life in prison without parole if convicted.

On Friday, the second day of an increasingly combative cross-examination, prosecutor Creighton Waters grilled Mr Murdaugh regarding his "new story" about what happened on the evening 7 June 2021.

The disbarred lawyer acknowledged on Thursday for the first time that he was at the kennels on his estate shortly before his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot there.

The defendant had claimed he was napping inside the family home, but his voice can be heard on a mobile phone video taken at the kennels by his son about five minutes before prosecutors say the killings took place.

"Everything about me not going to the kennel was a lie," Mr Murdaugh said on Friday.

But Mr Murdaugh and his lawyers insist his presence near the crime scene does not mean he is guilty.

Prosecutors argue that Mr Murdaugh killed his wife and son to elicit sympathy for his bereavement and stave off a reckoning over his multi-million dollar financial fraud.

"We have established that I have lied many times... I admit again that I have lied to people that have trusted me," Mr Murdaugh said.

But he continued to deny any involvement in the murders of his wife and son. Instead, Mr Murdaugh said he lied because his addiction to opiates made him "paranoid" and at times mistrustful.

The prosecutor noted that this week marked the first time that Mr Murdaugh had admitted to stealing millions and lying to police about his whereabouts on the night of the killings.

Mr Murdaugh has admitted to years of theft from clients and people he "loved and cared about", although he downplayed Mr Waters' suggestion that he was facing seemingly insurmountable financial woes in the days before his wife and son's death.

The crimes, he said, allowed him to fund an addiction to painkillers that saw him take as many as 60 pills a day, amounting to $50,000 a week. In court, he described painful withdrawal symptoms when he attempted to stop using the opiates.

Mr Murdaugh added that "when you're doing the things wrong I was doing, you have all kinds of ways of justifying [it]".

In total, he is facing 99 separate financial charges totalling about $8.8m (£7.3m) in stolen funds.

Now in its fifth week, the Murdaugh trial has dominated headlines in the southern part of the state, where his family have been prominent members of the legal community for generations.

The state concluded its cross-examination on Friday afternoon, but Mr Murdaugh's defence attorneys will have a chance to question their client.