Prosecutors have finished their closing argument in the high-profile trial of a former lawyer accused of murdering his wife and son in South Carolina.
They told the jury that “lies and his guilty actions” by Alex Murdaugh, 54, prove he gunned down Maggie, 52, and son, Paul, 22, on the family’s estate.
Jurors earlier in the day visited the sprawling, 1,700-acre hunting lodge to assess the crime scene.
The disbarred attorney denies involvement in the 7 June 2021 deaths.
The defence will present their closing argument on Thursday.
Mr Murdaugh reported finding the bodies of his wife and son near the dog kennels on the property in South Carolina’s Colleton County.
Over several hours on Wednesday afternoon, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters painstakingly led jurors through the state’s theory.
At the time of the murders, Mr Waters said, a “gathering storm” was threatening to expose Mr Murdaugh’s decade of financial crimes, which he has himself admitted in court.
The murders of Maggie and Paul, Mr Waters said, were Mr Murdaugh’s desperate attempt to gain sympathy and delay looming inquiries into his theft of millions of dollars.
The state’s case has been limited by a lack of physical evidence – the murder weapons were not found, there were no eyewitnesses and no blood found on Mr Murdaugh’s clothing.
But Mr Waters on Wednesday emphasised that Mr Murdaugh was with his wife and son just minutes before the killings, something the defendant had denied for 20 months before acknowledging it last week in court.
“After an exhaustive investigation, there is only one person who had the motive, who had the means, who had the opportunity to commit these crimes, and also whose guilty conduct after these crimes betrays him,” Mr Waters said.
Earlier this week, Mr Murdaugh’s lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, asked Judge Clifton Newman to grant jurors time to visit the 1,700-acre estate, known as Moselle, to get a better idea of where the bodies were found relative to the kennels and the Murdaugh home, where Mr Murdaugh originally said he had been napping at the time of the killings.
“You just can’t really appreciate the spatial issues without really seeing them,” Mr Harpootlian told the court on Monday.
Prosecutors, however, argued against granting jurors access to the estate, saying that the property has changed in the 20 months since the killings.
They said that some of the trees between the kennels and the Murdaugh home have grown taller and thicker.
Only the judge, members of the jury, police and security personnel were present for the visit, but members of the trial’s media pool also paid a brief visit to the property on Wednesday morning.
“It is a heavy place to visit,” the Wall Street Journal’s Valerie Bauerlein wrote in a pool report. “The property has stood vacant for 20 months and the grass is high.”
After seeing the kennels, a nearby shed and feed room, she observed: “There was no visible sign that two people had died in a violent manner in such close proximity, no blood stain or anything similar to it.”
Moselle is where the family lived for several years. It includes their home, as well as dog kennels, a cabin and sprawling lands, fields and forests, where Mr Murdaugh would hunt with his two sons.
The estate is now listed under contract at $3.9m (£3.9m), CNN reports.
Mr Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster, testified that much of the estate is “really not even accessible” because it is filled with swamps and there are no built roadways in many parts.
If convicted, Mr Murdaugh faces 30 years in jail, though prosecutors have argued for a life sentence.