Alex Murdaugh’s brother wept Monday as he told jurors that he had to clean what remained of his slain nephew, Paul Murdaugh, at the crime scene and described it as “the hardest thing” he’d ever been through.
John Marvin Murdaugh took the stand as the defense’s final witness in the Walterboro, South Carolina, courtroom.
He was especially close to Paul, who had worked for him at his equipment store.
After investigators released the crime scene the day after the double murder, John Marvin went to the dog kennels and was stunned to find that all of Paul’s hadn’t been removed from the feed room.
“I saw blood, I saw brains, I saw pieces of skull,” he said, choking back tears. “It was terrible.”
ALEX MURDAUGH: TIMELINE OF ONCE-POWERFUL SOUTH CAROLINA LAWYER’S SPECTACULAR DOWNFALL
As he choked back tears, he told jurors he felt he had to collect Paul’s remains to preserve his dignity.
“It felt like it was the right thing to do. I felt like I owed him and I started cleaning, and I promise you no mother or father or aunt or uncle should ever have to see or do what I did that day,” he said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”
Murdaugh is accused of fatally shooting his son Paul, 22, with a shotgun and his wife Maggie, 52, with a rifle near the dog kennels at the family’s hunting estate known as Moselle.
Monday marked the sixth week of the livestreamed trial that has mapped out the spectacular downfall of the powerful scion of a legal dynasty that was once seen as untouchable in South Carolina’s Lowcountry.
That morning that John Marvin cleaned up, he made a promise. “In my mind and out loud, I told Paul I loved him and I promised him I’d find out who did this,” he said. Defense lawyer Jim Griffin asked if he’d found his nephew’s killer.
“I have not,” he replied.
Investigators allegedly lied to John Marvin about blood spatter
At one point investigators told John Marvin and his siblings during a meeting in their office that they knew Murdaugh was behind the killings because of the T-shirt he was wearing.
“They told us that it was covered in blood. They went so far as to tell me on the police bodycam that he takes his shirt and wipes his face and that’s how they knew that Alex was at the scene, and that he was the one,” John Marvin testified.
The shirt did not test positive for blood, according to the defense.
Prosecutors ultimately didn’t introduce questionable evidence from an expert who concluded Murdaugh’s T-shirt was “stained with high-velocity blood spatter resulting from shooting Maggie and Paul.”
The defense has repeatedly highlighted the blood-spatter analysis missteps to poke holes in the prosecution’s case.
After a brief cross-examination, the defense rested.
Shooter would have been covered in blood, defense experts say
In earlier testimony Monday, a pair of defense experts said Paul was shot at close range in the back of the head, and the shooter would have been drenched in blood and splattered with brain matter.
Dr. Jonathan Eisenstat, a forensic pathologist, and Tim Palmbach, a blood spatter expert, disagreed with the state’s pathologist, Dr. Ellen Riemer, who said Paul was shot at a dramatic upward trajectory.
She said pellets from the second shotgun blast that killed him grazed his left shoulder before entering his neck and blowing his brain from his skull. Paul’s brain was found largely intact, near his feet.
Eisenstat, however, called Paul’s injury a “textbook” case of a contact shotgun wound to the skull that would have produced a tremendous amount of back spatter.
Paul was shot in the back of the head
“The person holding that gun, would they be subject to being covered in [biological] material?” asked defense lawyer Dick Harpootlian.
“Yes, in a very forceful way, yes,” replied Eisenstat, who was the defense’s 12th witness. Investigators did not present evidence that Murdaugh had back spatter on him after the shootings.
LISTEN: INTRODUCING THE FOX TRUE CRIME PODCAST WITH EMILY COMPAGNO
During the graphic testimony that included gruesome autopsy photos, Murdaugh sobbed and dabbed his eyes with a tissue.
Palmbach echoed Eisenstat’s testimony, saying the fatal injury to Paul’s head was inflicted to the back of his skull.
“The shotgun would have been in contact with Paul’s head,” he testified.
This would put the shooter in much closer proximity to Paul than if the killer fired in an upward trajectory through his neck, as Riemer contended.
Palmbach said the killer would have been sprayed in the face, head and upper body with biological material and would have likely been injured.
Expert testifies there were likely two shooters
Griffin asked Palmbach if the bloodbath was committed by two shooters.
“My opinion is the totality of the evidence is more suggestive of a two-shooter scenario,” he replied.
He argued that Paul was shot first, and the shooter would have been hit with pellet fragments and pieces of skull.
“You can see outside and even inside throughout the feed area multiple, large pieces of skull,” Palmbach said. “We also saw large amounts of tissue that were projected all the way up onto the ceiling and the door. You see hair all the way up into the door, and of course, you see blood everywhere, literally, within there, and finally you see the pellets.”
The shooter, he said, likely had blood in his eyes, was injured and needed time to recover. This doesn’t comport with a single killer quickly executing Paul then Maggie, who would have heard the shotgun blasts.
He added that it didn’t make sense for the killer to use two long guns.
This wasn’t Palmbach’s first high-profile case. He appeared as an expert in the hit Netflix documentary “The Staircase” about the mysterious death of author Michael Peterson’s wife.
Jurors to embark on a field trip to Moselle
Before testimony started Monday, Judge Clifton Newman ruled that jurors will go on a field trip to Moselle.
The visit to the 1,700-acre property in Islandton, South Carolina, came at the request of the defense team.
“We believe it would be useful for the jury to visit Moselle, both the area of the kennels and the house, just to get some understanding of the spatial relationships,” Harpootlian told Newman.
The judge granted the request but did not specify when the approximately 20-minute drive there would take place.
ALEX MURDAUGH TRIAL: TOP FIVE TESTIMONY HIGHLIGHTS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA COURTROOM
Harpootlian also complained that dozens of trespassers went to the property over the weekend “to take selfies in front of the feed room,” and the sheriff had to be called to chase the gawkers away. He asked that the scene be secured for the visit.
Murdaugh’s team called their final witness Monday, Murdaugh’s brother, John Marvin Murdaugh.
Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters said he expected to have at least four rebuttal witnesses and wrap up his case by Tuesday afternoon. Closing arguments could be as early as Wednesday.
Murdaugh testified in his own defense last week
Murdaugh repeatedly told Colleton County jurors that he had nothing to do with the slayings of his wife and son when he took the stand in his own defense on Thursday.
“Mr. Murdaugh, are you a family annihilator?” Waters asked Friday during a brutal nine-hour cross-examination that spanned two days.
“No, I would never hurt Maggie. I would never hurt Paul,” he responded.
Waters portrayed Murdaugh as a pill-addled, serial liar who was on the verge of a devastating financial reckoning.
He hammered the disbarred attorney about his ever-changing account of the night of the murders – including initially claiming he was not with his wife and son in the minutes before they were fatally shot until investigators found a video that contradicted his alibi.
A video found on Paul’s phone placed Murdaugh at the scene at 8:45 p.m. Prosecutors say both victims were shot to death with family weapons at about 8:50 p.m.
“The second that you’re confronted with facts that you can’t deny, you immediately come up with a new lie?” Waters challenged Murdaugh. “Isn’t that correct?”
“Mr. Waters, as we have established, I have lied many times,” Murdaugh replied.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP