COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. — The man who took care of the dogs at Alex Murdaugh’s home testified Tuesday during the disgraced attorney’s double murder trial that puddles of water were not where they should have been and the dogs were in the wrong kennels when police arrived after Murdaugh’s son and wife were killed.
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But under cross examination, Dale Davis acknowledged that the hose, which he said he meticulously hung up before leaving the afternoon of the killings, could be seen on the ground in a video investigators said was taken just before the shootings.
Murdaugh, 54, faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie, and their 22-year-old son Paul, whose bodies were found near the kennels at the hunting lodge where the family lived on June 7, 2021.
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Prosecutors called Dale Davis as their 53rd witness. He lived down the road and fed and took care of the family dogs at their kennels.
Davis detailed where he kept each dog in the kennel, how and where water would pool when he washed out the kennels, and how he made sure the water didn’t pool near the feed room, because it was rotting the wood.
“I’m very particular about how I roll that hose up,” Davis testified as he examined a picture taken by police after the killings. “It’s kinked up. There’s pressure on that hose ... somebody used that hose after I did.”
Prosecutors have suggested, but haven’t directly said or presented evidence, that the lack of items connecting Alex Murdaugh to the killings — such as weapons that haven’t been found and blood found only near the bodies and not on clothes — indicate Murdaugh cleaned up the crime scene before heading to visit his ailing mother that night. Murdaugh called 911 saying he found the bodies after returning home from that trip.
In cross examination, defense attorney Jim Griffin asked Davis about a time a hunting dog got gravely injured in a kennel and needed to be put out of its misery.
“Mr. Alex couldn’t shoot that dog; he asked you to do it, didn’t he?” Griffin asked.
“Yup,” Davis said.
Later, prosecutor David Fernandez asked “Did Alex do a lot of hunting?” and Davis agreed.
Griffin also showed Davis a video from the kennels that prosecutors have said Paul Murdaugh took minutes before the killings. Prosecutors have used it with other witnesses to identify Alex Murdaugh’s voice along with the voices of his son and wife, to show he was at the kennels even though he told police he wasn’t there.
Griffin stopped the video about two-thirds of the way in and asked Davis what he could see in the background. It was the hose, in a haphazard pile.
Davis also said Alex Murdaugh and his wife were “lovey-dovey” and that Murdaugh and his son “drank beer together.”
Court began Tuesday with a pathologist sticking to her findings that Maggie Murdaugh was shot four or five times with a rifle while Paul Murdaugh was shot twice with a shotgun.
Dr. Ellen Riemer said the last shots on each victim appeared to be to their heads.
Defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian repeatedly asked during cross examination Tuesday if the evidence could show the fatal second shot to Paul Murdaugh’s head could have been from the weapon being right up against him or been fired from above, heading down, instead of as Riemer testified being fired level or slightly upward.
The pathologist said the lack of pellets spread out in Paul Murdaugh’s shoulder, the large part of the top of his skull that broke off and the lack of injuries to his face led to her conclusion on the shot’s trajectory.
“People can disagree, but that doesn’t change the truth,” Riemer said.
Reimer testified Monday that the first shots to hit Maggie Murdaugh came when she faced the shooter, including a bullet that went through her kidney, likely causing excruciating pain like from kidney stones.
Both victims appeared to have their arms and hands by their sides, with no injuries indicating they tried to protect themselves, Riemer said.
As he did Monday, Alex Murdaugh cried during much of Riemer’s testimony, especially as she detailed the injuries to his wife and son. Murdaugh smiled and laughed when Davis testified that he went home after caring for the dogs, took a shower and “was in my recliner the rest of the night.”
Also Tuesday, a forensic accountant testified that Murdaugh didn’t have enough money in his bank accounts or elsewhere to pay several debts or possible lawsuit judgements he faced the day of the killings.
There was no mention of COVID-19 in court Tuesday. On Monday, two jurors were dismissed after testing positive for the virus and the clerk of court also has COVID, leading to worries that the virus has been spreading through the courtroom and could cause a delay or a mistrial.
PREVIOUS TRIAL COVERAGE:
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 16: COVID could create crisis in Alex Murdaugh murder trial
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 14: Attorney: I trusted Alex Murdaugh despite odd fee payments
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 13: Paralegal angry by Alex Murdaugh theft, knew he loved family
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 12: Jurors hear about blue rain jacket in Alex Murdaugh trial
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 11: Alex Murdaugh murder jury to hear financial crimes evidence
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 10: Maid’s son tells judge Alex Murdaugh took $4M for her death
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 9: Financial misdeeds allowed in Alex Murdaugh murder trial
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 8: Both sides use trove of cell data at Alex Murdaugh trial
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 7: Agent insists Alex Murdaugh suggested he killed his son
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 6: Defense faults crime scene collection
- Murdaugh Trial, Day 5: Hours after killings, Alex Murdaugh said he didn’t see wife
- Murdaugh Murder Trial, Day 4: Jury shown body cam footage from night of murders
- Murdaugh Murder Trial Day 3: Jury finalized, opening statements given
- Alex Murdaugh goes on trial in 2021 killings of wife, son
(WATCH BELOW: Personal connections show South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh’s downfall)
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