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Secret of their eyes: Moment Buster Murdaugh locks eyes with his dad as he takes stand to defend him

Buster and his father Alex exchange a look as he walks up to the witness stand Tuesday at Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro

Buster and Alex Murdaugh locked eyes today as the 26-year-old stepped up to defend his father who is accused of murdering his mother and younger brother.

The disgraced legal scion, 54, smiled proudly up at his only surviving son as he walked past the defense table and up to the witness stand.

Buster fought back tears as he described how Alex called him on the night of June 7, 2021, to tell him Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, had been murdered at the family’s hunting estate in Moselle, South Carolina.

Buster, who was staying with his girlfriend at the time, told jurors his father ‘asked if I was sitting down … he sounded odd and he told me that my mom and my brother had been shot.’ 

Buster’s testimony came on a day of high courtroom drama with the defense unveiling new photos of the hunting lodge, including the living room where eagle-eyed viewers spotted an alligator’s head resting on a side table.

Alex was this evening seen looking over to Buster and beating his chest with his fist in a gesture of solidarity following his emotional testimony.

Buster and his father Alex exchange a look as he walks up to the witness stand Tuesday at Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro

Alex was this evening seen looking over to Buster and beating his chest with his fist in a gesture of solidarity following his emotional testimony

Buster’s testimony came on a day of high courtroom drama with the defense unveiling new photos of the hunting lodge, including the living room in which eagle-eyed viewers spotted an alligator’s head resting on a side table. The defense was providing evidence of whether a gunshot could have been heard from the main house when Maggie and Paul were killed

In blockbuster testimony, Alex’s sole surviving son said…

  • His father was ‘destroyed’ and was so distraught he was unable to speak when he arrived at Moselle with his girlfriend on the night of the killings.
  • The Murdaughs stuck by each other after the killings and Alex watched Buster play in a golf tournament in Summerville after Maggie and Paul’s funerals.
  • Buster and his father took a vacation to Lake Keowee with Maggie’s parents, his uncle and aunt and their children ten days after the murders. 
  • Buster did not know his father’s birthday when he was asked about a party thrown at Edisto Beach around a week before the killings.
  • He said his brother Paul was ‘bullied’ after a drunken boat wreck that left 19-year-old Mallory Beach dead in February 2019.
  • Maggie was ‘consumed’ by the backlash from the Hampton community over the accident and moved away from the area, preferring to stay at Edisto Beach.
  • Buster described a seemingly idyllic childhood, split between their mansion in Hampton, the Moselle hunting lodge and their stunning Edisto Beach house.
  • Paul was ‘not good about storing guns’ and would leave them around Moselle.

Describing the night he learned of the murders, Buster said his girlfriend Brooklynn White, also 26, had overheard the phone call with his father.

‘She just started packing stuff and I kind of sat there for a minute and I was kind of in shock,’ he said.

Buster said they drove to Moselle and arrived in the early hours of the morning.

He described his father as ‘destroyed … he was heartbroken, I walked in the door and gave him a hug and he was broken down.’

Buster added that his father was so distraught he was unable to talk. 

Buster, Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh at the Moselle estate in a picture uploaded on Maggie’s Facebook to mark Father’s Day 2020

He said Alex was wearing a t-shirt and shorts when he arrived. The State suggests the legal scion changed after shooting his wife and son at close range.

Buster said his father took a shower and he helped him to pack. This an apparent reference by the defense to the testimony of the family’s housekeeper who said she found a puddle in the bathroom the following day.

After they packed up, Alex, Buster, Brooklynn and Alex’s brother John Marvin drove to his parents’ house in Almeda where they stayed the night. 

The legal scion’s eldest son has been attending the trial everyday accompanied by girlfriend Brooklynn. The defense launched into their case in earnest today, calling Alex’s surviving son to the stand.

Alex’s brothers John Marvin and Randy and his sister Lynn are also expected to testify for the defense. 

The defense is expected to take a week laying out its case before the jury are sent out to consider their verdict at the Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro. 

Buster looks on from the witness stand as his father returns to the courtroom following a break in his testimony

Alex and his attorney Dick Harpootlian look up at Buster Murdaugh as he heads to the witness stand on Tuesday 

Buster, 26, stated his full name, Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr., as father Alex, 54, looked on smiling. He was supported in court by his girlfriend Brooklynn White

Buster Murdaugh, right, the son of Alex Murdaugh, listens to a question from defense attorney Jim Griffin while testifying during his father’s trial

Murdaugh smiles as he listens to Buster’s testimony Tuesday

Alex wipes his eyes while listening to his son Buster describing the night his father informed him his mother and younger brother had been shot dead

Buster began his testimony talking about his childhood, saying that his father and mother avidly attended his baseball games.

‘My father coached every little league team I played in up until I started playing for the schools that had a coach,’ he told jurors.

Buster described a seemingly idyllic family life, split between their mansion in Hampton, their sprawling hunting estate at Moselle and their beach house on Edisto Island.

He said he spent a lot of time with Alex’s side of the family, grandfather Randolph ‘Handsome’ Murdaugh and grandmother Libby, known as ‘M’, his uncles Randy, John Marvin and aunt Lynn Murdaugh Goette. They rented lavish houses for vacations and spent time at the family’s river house at Chechessee near Okatie.

Buster also said that Alex was close with his in-laws and that he and Maggie’s father Terry ‘Papa T’ Branstetter went on camping trips and played golf together. 

Buster Murdaugh fought back tears today as he recalled his father phoning him to tell him his mother and younger brother had been brutally murdered.

Buster arrives at the Colleton County court in Walterboro Tuesday with his girlfriend Brooklynn White who has supported him most days

Murdaugh arrives at court Tuesday with his blazer draped over his handcuffs 

Describing his younger brother, Buster said: ‘Paul’s interests were outdoors mostly, hunting and playing around in the woods.’

He testified that his brother was ‘not good about storing guns.’

‘Paul left guns around the property more than anyone else,’ Buster said, noting how his own rifle would go missing after his younger brother shot with it.

Maggie was shot five times with a high-powered assault rifle, while Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. No murder weapon has ever been recovered.

But the prosecution say that guns bought for the Murdaugh boys had gone missing from the property. Only one .300 Blackout AR was seized by police, but Alex had bought two guns for them for Christmas in 2016.

A third rifle was bought two years later after Paul lost his firearm. 

The evidence regarding the shotguns seized from the estate was inconclusive. The weapons can neither be included or excluded as the gun that killed Paul.

The State contests that ‘family weapons’ were used to kill Maggie and Paul. 

Buster told how Paul’s drunken boat crash, in which a 19-year-old girl was killed, ‘consumed’ his mother.

At the time of Maggie and Paul’s deaths, Alex and Buster were being sued over the 22-year-old’s boat wreck in which Mallory Beach was killed.

The boat belonged to his father and he had used his older brother’s ID to buy alcohol.

Buster told how his brother was ‘bullied’ after the wreck, with people harassing him on social media and in public.

‘He would go out to a bar and there would be people who would make a scuff about it,’ he told jurors.

Referring to his mother, Buster said: ‘It kind of consumed her. She’s big on reading all of it. It made her feel upset and it eventually caused her to distance herself from Hampton.’

‘She just felt that there was a kind of a bad vibe in Hampton,’ he told the court.

At the time of the killings Maggie was living at Edisto Beach.

Buster said Maggie was particularly distressed about seeing on TV the attorney for the Beach family, Mark Tinsley, saying he was seeking $40million in the wrongful death lawsuit.

‘That made her anxious’, Buster said.

John Marvin Murdaugh, Alex’s brother, arrives at court Tuesday 

Murdaugh is escorted by a sheriff Tuesday after making the short journey from the local jail

Randy Murdaugh arrives at court on Tuesday with two unidentified women

Earlier in the trial, Buster was booted to the back of court after allegedly throwing his middle finger up at Tinsley, who appeared as a prosecution witness. 

His alleged obscene gesture may have even been caught on camera, with the legal heir seen biting on his middle finger while Mark Tinsley, the attorney for Mallory Beach’s family, was giving evidence on Monday. 

At the time of Paul and Maggie’s deaths, Alex was facing a $30million lawsuit over his younger son’s drunken boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory. 

Paul was driving his father’s boat and Buster had lent him his ID to buy alcohol.

Ahead of the trial, Buster and several other unnamed defendants reached a ‘significant’ settlement with Beach’s family and three other surviving passengers.

Prosecutors in Alex’s murder trial rested their case Friday after weeks of complicated evidence from more than 60 witnesses.

An emotional Buster was seen paying tribute at his mother and brother’s graves in Hampton, South Carolina, earlier in the trial on February 12.

He was supported by his girlfriend Brooklynn at the Hampton Cemetery where Buster took a moment to kneel down and plant a kiss on the their graves.

At one point, Buster picked up a small statue of a dog that had been left at their burial sites and placed it above his mother’s tomb.

The dog appears to resemble the Murdaugh family dog, Bubba, who has become somewhat of a key player in the case against Alex who faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted for the murders of his wife and son.

As jurors had heard earlier in the trial, the yellow Labrador was at the family’s dog kennels on the night Maggie and Paul were gunned down at their Moselle hunting estate – and his presence could prove damning for Alex who, according to witnesses, was heard speaking to the dog in a video recorded at the kennels.

Prosecutors have focused on a cellphone video recorded by Paul just minutes before his death in which voices can be heard in the background ordering Bubba, who had a habit of bothering chickens and birds, to leave the animals alone.  

State witness Rogan Gibson, a close friend of the Murdaughs, testified last week that he was ‘100% positive’ that he heard Alex’s voice in the video – putting him at the scene of the crime where he claimed he hadn’t been. 

An emotional Buster Murdaugh visited his late mother Maggie and brother Paul’s gravesites at Hampton Cemetery in South Carolina on Sunday, February 12

Buster Murdaugh, left, hugs his aunt Marian Proctor after she testified in his father Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on February 14

Buster Murdaugh, 26, and girlfriend Brooklynn White, 26, visit the graves of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh at the Hampton Cemetery in South Carolina on February 13

Buster’s alleged obscene gesture may have even been caught on camera, with the legal heir seen biting on his middle finger while Mark Tinsley, the attorney for Mallory Beach’s family, was giving evidence on Monday

Buster’s name has also cropped up in connection with the mysterious death of Stephen Smith, 19.  

Smith was found dead in the middle of a country road 15 miles from the Murdaugh family’s Islandton hunting lodge on July 8, 2015.

Smith’s death was ruled a hit-and-run, but his mother Sandy has always maintained that her son, who was gay, was the victim of a hate crime and the murder was covered up.

In June 2021, initial investigators found no evidence of any vehicle accident, were convinced that the victim had a gunshot wound above his right eye, and received tips questioning whether Smith had a relationship with Paul’s older brother, Richard ‘Buster’ Murdaugh. 


Alex Murdaugh, 54, is accused of shooting his wife, Maggie, 52, and younger son Paul, 22, at the family’s hunting estate in Islandton, South Carolina, on the night of June 7, 2021. 

Here are the key events in the timeline laid out by prosecutors:

At 7.56pm, Paul sent a Snapchat video to friends showing the 22-year-old riding around the estate with his father.

At 8.15pm, Murdaugh’s wife Maggie arrived home and the trio ate dinner together. Autopsies showed similar stomach contents in Maggie and Paul.

About 8.30pm, Paul’s phone starts moving towards the kennels. 

Then at 8.44pm, a second video taken by Paul at the kennels – soon to become a murder scene – allegedly proves that Maggie, Paul and Alex were together.

At 8.49pm the prosecution say Paul’s phone locked and went silent forever, never to send another text or make another call.

Between 9pm and 9.30pm, Paul and Maggie were killed – according to the coroner.

At 9.06pm, Murdaugh’s car is fired up.

The alleged killer said he went to go visit his mother, who is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in Almeda – around a 15-minute drive. 

At 10.07pm, Murdaugh called 911 claiming he had arrived home a to find his wife and son shot dead.

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