From his son appearing to flip the bird at a witness, to his defense attorney pointing a rifle at prosecutors – and even a bomb scare, Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial has seen a host of wild moments only fitting of his bizarre saga.
In six weeks of bombshell testimony, the courtroom has been rocked by not just the evidence, but the antics of lawyers, jurors, witnesses and the Murdaugh clan.
Trial watchers have been gripped by the nicknames: Big Red for Murdaugh, PawPaw for Paul, White Boy for a farm truck and and Bo Whoop for a shotgun.
Somber evidence has been punctuated with laughter, including when defense attorney Dick Harpootlian aimed a gun at prosecutors and joked, ‘tempting,’ and when an expelled juror asked the judge if she could fetch her eggs before leaving.
The Murdaugh clan have ruffled feathers by passing contraband to the defendant and the legal scion’s surviving son is even accused of giving a witness the finger.
After the jury sensationally delivered a guilty verdict after less than three hours of deliberation, here DailyMail.com looks at six of the most bizarre moments from Murdaugh’s bombshell trial…
Prosecutor Creighton Waters suggested that Murdaugh’s use of the nickname PawPaw repeatedly on the stand last week was an affectation. ‘This jury has heard multiple recorded statements of you during the course of this, did you ever refer to Paul as PawPaw during that?’ Waters asked. Murdaugh said: ‘I called him PawPaw, Mags called him PawPaw, Bus called him PawPaw, RoRo called him PawPaw … I can call him Paul if you prefer that’
Buster, Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh at Lake Kiwi in May 2021 to celebrate the birth of Maggie’s niece’s child
Murdaugh’s nicknames: PawPaw for Paul, White Boy for his farm truck and Bo Whoop for his father’s shotgun
The Murdaughs extensive use of nicknames for family members, cars and guns has fascinated trial watchers.
When Murdaugh took the stand he reeled off a host of pet names: PawPaw for Paul, Mags for Maggie, Bus for Buster, Handsome for his father Randolph, Em for his mother Libby, Papa T for his father-in-law Terry Branstetter, Grandmar for his mother-in-law Kennedy and RoRo for Paul’s friend Rogan Gibson.
Murdaugh himself was known as Big Red while Paul was called Little Rooster.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters suggested that Murdaugh’s use of the nickname PawPaw repeatedly on the stand last week was an affectation.
‘This jury has heard multiple recorded statements of you during the course of this, did you ever refer to Paul as PawPaw during that?’ Waters asked.
Murdaugh said: ‘I called him PawPaw, Mags called him PawPaw, Bus called him PawPaw, RoRo called him PawPaw … I can call him Paul if you prefer that.’
Records show Paul’s number was saved in Murdaugh’s iPhone as ‘Paul Paul.’
As well as the many nicknames for friends and family the court has heard how Paul’s white farm truck was nicknamed White Boy while his Ford F150 was dubbed Dolly.
Jurors even heard Murdaugh’s father Randolph had a shotgun named Bo Whoop.
Murdaugh’s attorney points a rifle at the prosecution bench and jokes: ‘Tempting’
At one point in the trial Alex Murdaugh’s defense attorney pointed a rifle at the prosecution bench and said ‘tempting’ as the courtroom erupted with laughter.
Dick Harpootlian indulged in the gallows humor as the defense on February 21 provided analysis of gunshots at the crime scene to claim Murdaugh was too short to be the killer.
The attorney, who is also a Democrat State Senator, was wielding a .300 Blackout rifle in order to show jurors how the killer was holding the gun that killed Maggie.
Dick Harpootlian indulged in the gallows humor as the defense on February 21 provided analysis of gunshots at the crime scene to claim Murdaugh was too short to be the killer
A meme of defense attorney Dick Harpootlian gesturing to the prosecution table with a rifle
He grinned as he pointed the firearm at the prosecution table and said, ‘tempting’, prompting a chorus of laughter. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson laughed but others at the prosecution table like Creighton Waters were not amused.
The image quickly became a meme online with many on social media poking fun at Harpootlian’s gag.
Others commented that it was tone deaf given that the rifle was submitted as evidence as the type of gun used to kill Maggie.
Harpootlian is no stranger to offering levity during the double murder trial and has made frequent asides.
During cross-examination of a forensic scientist, the lawyer joked about how ‘scintillating’ her afternoon of lengthy technical evidence had been.
While cross-examining a pathologist, he demonstrated gunshots on his colleague with a yard stick and then told him to sit down. He added, ‘but don’t put your jacket on, I may not be done with you yet.’
On another occasion Harpootlian was laughing during a witness’ testimony, prompting the prosecutor to scold him.
Harpootlian jumped up and said John Meadors should be addressing the witness – not him. ‘If I found the question humorous, I’m sorry,’ he added.
Murdaugh charged over contraband and Buster caught ‘flipping the bird’ at a prosecution witness
Murdaugh was hit with a fresh contraband charge this week after earlier allegedly receiving notes from his family members.
The Colleton Country Sheriff’s Office confirmed Saturday will be served with an arrest warrant following his double murder trial for ‘bringing contraband.’
The defendant was allegedly handed a book from his sister Lynn. The incident reportedly happened on February 8 – the same day Buster Murdaugh appeared to give a prosecution witness the middle finger.
Two days later, Buster and Lynn were asked to move back a few rows back in the courtroom. They are not facing charges, officials confirmed.
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 February 8
Buster Murdaugh, his girlfriend Brooklynn White and Alex’s sister Lynn
Eagle-eyed court viewers also spotted Murdaugh giving Buster a pat on the back during a break in the middle of his surviving son’s testimony. Legal experts said defendants are not allowed to have physical contact with family members, or anyone else for that matter.
Buster’s alleged obscene gesture earlier in the trial may have even been caught on camera, with the legal heir seen biting on his middle finger while Mark Tinsley, the the attorney for Mallory Beach’s family, was giving evidence.
Tinsley told the court that Alex tried to ‘intimidate and bully’ him because he was suing him over his son Paul’s drunken boat crash that left 19-year-old Mallory dead in February, 2019.
Buster attended the trial every day, usually accompanied by his girlfriend Brooklynn White, and was there in the courtroom when the jury delivered its guilty verdict.
Murdaugh’s sister Lynn and brothers Randy and John Marvin have also attended most days, often accompanied by their wives.
Buster and John Marvin both testified for the defense and the family have sat directly behind Murdaugh, supporting the alleged murderer.
Court evacuated after bomb threat made on the judge’s chambers
The double murder trial was evacuated on February 8 after a bomb threat was made on the Colleton County courthouse.
Testimony was interrupted as lawyers, press and members of the public streamed out of the courthouse amid fevered speculation.
Law enforcement swept the building and eventually gave the all-clear two hours later, with the trial allowed to resume.
It was later revealed that the threat was a hoax made by a violent inmate at a local prison.
Police confirmed that Joey Coleman, a Colleton County drug dealer, called the court clerk and claimed there was a ‘bomb in the judge’s chamber’.
Lawyers, press and members of the public were seen streaming out of Colleton County Courthouse as police cars and fire trucks swarmed on the building in Walterboro, South Carolina
Joey Coleman (left and right) was jailed for 30 years in 2018 after pistol-whipping two store clerks during a stick-up in Yemassee, South Carolina, in 2018. The Walterboro crook has a rap sheet dating back more than a decade, including third-degree burglary in 2010, second-degree burglary in 2011 and possession with intent to supply cocaine in 2018
A police vehicle arrives at the scene after a bomb threat was reportedly made
Police cars and trucks are seen at the scene as members of the public, staff and lawyers gather outside
Detectives said there was ‘no direct connection’ between the thug and Murdaugh.
Investigators discovered Coleman in possession of a contraband cell phone after tracing the offending call to the Ridgeland Correctional Facility in Jasper County.
Coleman was jailed for 30 years in 2018 after pistol-whipping two store clerks during a stick-up in Yemassee, South Carolina, in 2018.
The Walterboro crook has a rap sheet dating back more than a decade, including third-degree burglary in 2010, second-degree burglary in 2011 and possession with intent to supply cocaine in 2018.
Prison records show that after the bomb hoax Coleman was moved to the Broad River Secure Facility in Columbia.
On the day of the hoax, a police officer entered the court moments before the evacuation and signaled to the judge who immediately sent the jury out.
Confusion spread through the room as the court clerk and a police officer then opened the rear doors, which are usually blocked off.
Attorney pays another prosecution witness $1,000 to ‘reward her bravery’
The trial took a sensational turn on February 9 when an attorney who testified against Murdaugh was accused of making a $1,000 payment to another prosecution witness.
Defense attorney Phillip Barber interrupted proceedings to demand that the testimony of Mark Tinsley be struck from the record, after he donated to a GoFundMe page for Shelley Smith, Murdaugh’s mother’s caregiver.
Smith’s daughter, Rachelle Buckner, set up the page to ‘reward her mother’s bravery’ after her emotional testimony about seeing Murdaugh on the night of the murders which prosecutors say shatters his alibi.
The GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 at the time of writing.
Defense attorney Phillip Barber (right) interrupted proceedings to demand that the testimony of Mark Tinsley (left) be struck from the record, after he donated to a GoFundMe page for Shelley Smith, Murdaugh’s mother’s caregiver
The GoFundMe page has raised more than $30,000 at the time of writing
Barber said Tinsley made a $1,000 donation to the page before later removing his name from the record. The defense demanded that the judge strike out the evidence of Tinsley, who was suing Murdaugh and his son Paul at the time of the murders for a fatal boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
‘He made a financial payment to a witness in the middle of a trial, that he has a financial interest in the outcome of,’ Barber told the judge, adding that Smith was still under subpoena.
However, Judge Clifton Newman refused to strike out Tinsley’s evidence, instead telling the defense: ‘That will make good fodder for cross examination.’
Barber stated that Tinsley had admitted making the donation to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Tinsley told the court during his testimony that Murdaugh tried to ‘intimidate and bully’ him because he was suing him over his son Paul’s drunken boat crash.
Expelled juror asks judge if she can fetch her eggs before leaving
A juror was expelled on the last day of the trial after discussing evidence with outsiders – but the serious charge was soothed by laughter when she asked the judge if she could get her eggs before leaving.
Judge Clifton Newman summoned the juror to dismiss her for discussing the trial with at least three people. He added that she had been a ‘great juror’ and that her misconduct had not been deliberate.
‘You have been by all accounts a great juror and smiled consistently and seemingly been attentive to the case and performed well,’ Newman said.
After the dismissal, Newman asked if there were any belongings she needed the bailiff to retrieve from the jury room. ‘I got a dozen eggs,’ she told the judge. Laughter filled the room as Newman joked: ‘You wanna leave the eggs or take the eggs?’
‘I’m not suggesting that you intentionally did anything wrong, but in order to preserve the integrity of the process and in fairness to all the parties involved, we are going to replace you with one of the other jurors.’
After the dismissal, Newman asked if there were any belongings she needed the bailiff to retrieve from the jury room. ‘I got a dozen eggs,’ she told the judge.
Laughter filled the room as Newman joked: ‘You wanna leave the eggs or take the eggs?’
She said she did. Newman told the bailiff: ‘Can you retrieve from the jury room, her dozen eggs, her purse and – what else? – a bottle of water.’
After she left, Newman smiled as he told the court: ‘I have heard a lot of things but not a dozen eggs.’