The son of Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina attorney accused of killing his wife and youngest son, took the stand on Feb. 21 in his father's double murder trial.
Buster Murdaugh, the surviving son of Alex Murdaugh, was the first witness the defense called to the stand, testifying that his father was barely able to speak the first time his son saw him after the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
"He was destroyed, heartbroken," Buster Murdaugh said of the first time he saw his father after the killings.
Buster Murdaugh had sat silently in the courtroom behind his father as dozens of witnesses shared horrific details about the deaths of his mother and brother.
Alex Murdaugh was charged with two counts of murder in July 2022, about a year after he found the bodies of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh shot dead on their family property about 65 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Buster Murdaugh told jurors of their loving, "close-knit" family, leading Alex Murdaugh to break down in tears several times during his son's testimony.
The eldest Murdaugh son weighed in on a five-word phrase Alex Murdaugh said in an interview three days after the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, in which he emotionally discussed his dead son Paul.
A witness for the prosecution has alleged Murdaugh said, "I did him so bad," while the defense has argued he said, "They did him so bad." Buster Murdaugh testified that his father said, "They did him so bad."
Defense attorneys also asked the eldest Murdaugh son about his father's showering habits, which could have been in response to the prosecution showing Alex Murdaugh wearing different clothes in the hours just before and after the time of the slayings.
"He could take them a lot," Buster Murdaugh said. "You know, working out there, if he goes outside and sweats a lot."
After Buster Murdaugh's testimony, the defense called to the stand Mike Sutton, a forensics engineer, as their first expert witness.
Sutton suggested Alex Murdaugh was too tall to be the shooter based on analysis of the locations of gun shell casings. Sutton said the shooter was likely holding the firearm at hip level and was likely between 5-foot-2 and 5-foot-4.
"In my opinion it is very unlikely that he fired that shot," Sutton said.
Alex Murdaugh, who is about 6-foot-4, would have had to be holding the weapon at his kneecap, according to Sutton's analysis.
During cross-examination, prosecutors used a tape measure and Sutton's own analysis to suggest the shooter could have been crouching or standing further away.
Alex Murdaugh's defense attorneys said they plan to finish their case by Friday, Feb. 24, wrapping up the five-week trial and sending Alex Murdaugh's fate to the jury.
If convicted, he faces 30 years to life in prison.