Alex Murdaugh’s younger brother broke down in tears on the witness stand as he revealed how he cleaned up “what was left” of his nephew Paul the morning after the gruesome murders.
John Marvin Murdaugh, the youngest of the Murdaugh siblings, took the witness stand in Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Monday afternoon where his older brother is standing trial for murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul.
John Marvin told jurors how he cleaned up his nephew’s “blood, brain matter and skull fragments” from the crime scene after law enforcement officials left behind parts of the 22-year-old on the Murdaugh’s Moselle family estate.
“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life,” he said.
John Marvin said he had gone down to the dog kennels on the family’s sprawling Moselle estate on 8 June 2021 – the morning after the murders – and came across a horrific scene.
“I just felt like I needed to go down, I needed to see for myself what had gone on and just kind of take it in. Maybe for some type of understanding,” he said.
The uncle – who told jurors he had always had a “very special relationship” with the 22-year-old victim – wept as he described seeing Paul’s blood, brain matter and skull fragments in the feed room of the kennels.
“It was not cleaned up,” he testified.
John Marvin said that he “could easily see where Maggie had been” as well but her body had been on the grass and law enforcement officials “had covered it with dirt”.
But, in the feed room, he could see Paul’s blood, brain matter and pieces of his skull all over.
By then – just hours on from the murders – SLED had already released the scene back to the Murdaugh family.
“It had not been cleaned up. I saw blood, I saw brains, I saw pieces of skull… I don’t know what I was seeing,” he said.
“For some reason I thought for Paul I needed to clean it up. I felt like it was the right thing to do. I felt like I owed him.”
John Marvin testified that he called his friend Michael Paul – a law enforcement official – to ask if it would be okay for him to clean it up before he did.
Sobbing, he said he set to work cleaning up “what was left of Paul” while he cried “uncontrollably”.
“I promise you no mother, father, aunt or uncle should ever have to see and do what I did that day. I’m not blaming anybody. But I was just so overwhelmed,” he said.
“I did everything I could.”
John Marvin testified that – as he cleaned up what was left of Paul – he made him a promise to get him justice.
“It was difficult. It was nearly impossible,” he said.
“In my mind and out loud I told Paul I loved him and I promised him that I would find out who did this to him.”
When asked if he had found out for his nephew, he replied: “I have not.”
Besides the lack of clean-up of the crime scene, John Marvin also gave other testimony critical of the investigation including what he described as a “baffling” statement released by law enforcement, an apparent lack of urgency to locate Maggie’s cellphone and evidence law enforcement shared with him that turned out to be inaccurate.
The day after the murders, he testified that he learned that Maggie’s phone was missing.
He said he used Find My iPhone and located the phone along Moselle road, around a quarter of a mile from the Murdaugh property.
But, when he approached law enforcement and showed them, he testified that they brushed it off, saying they had technology coming later to help find it.
He said he was shocked that investigators did not want to find the cellphone before it ran out of battery.
“It blew me away that I’m sitting here showing them where Maggie’s phone is and they don’t take the time to walk with me or to take this phone… and go find it,” he said.
He said he told 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone – who was also at Moselle at the time – and they went to find the phone, contacting SLED to collect it once they had located it by the side of the road. Mr Murdaugh then gave him Maggie’s password so that investigators could get into the phone, he said.
Prosecutors say that Mr Murdaugh tossed Maggie’s phone out of his moving car as he left the murder scene and drove to his mother’s home minutes after the killings.
John Marvin also slammed the “baffling” statement released the day after the murders, which reassured the public that there was no danger to the community – despite having no suspect in custody.
“It’s quite baffling. It still is. Two people have been killed, and you’re telling me that everybody’s safe. That tells me that whoever’s done this is in jail, and they are 100 per cent positive,” he said.
John Marvin testified that he met with investigators a lot over the course of the investigation and had been shown evidence that officials had connecting his brother to the murders.
He told the court how he later learned that some of the evidence was not accurate.
He recalled one day where he was asked about a blue raincoat which had been found during a search of an upstairs bedroom at their parents’ home in Almeda.
John Marvin said he, his brother and sister were later shown the coat – which was covered in gunshot residue and which prosecutors believe Mr Murdaugh used to move and hide the murder weapons.
He had never seen the coat before, he said, and learned that it had been found in a closet in his parents’ home that was typically used to store “junk”.
The same day he was asked about the coat, John Marvin said a SLED agent told him that they knew his brother was responsible for the murders because of blood spatter evidence found on the white t-shirt he was wearing the night of the murders.
“They made reference to the shirt Alex was wearing that it was covered in blood,” he said.
“They went so far to tell me on the police bodycam he takes his shirt and wipes his face… and that that’s how they knew that he was at the scene. That he was the one.”
Prior to his indictment, a Colleton County grand jury was told that Mr Murdaugh’s shirt was covered in blood spatter – evidence that he was next to one of the victims when they were shot.
This later turned out to be false, with forensic tests finding no human blood on the shirt.
However, prosecutors allege that Mr Murdaugh actually changed his clothing and showered after the murders.
A Snapchat video taken by Paul less than an hour before he and Maggie were killed shows Mr Murdaugh in a completely different outfit. The kennels were also covered in water after the killings as though someone had used the hoses.
Under cross-examination, John Marvin agreed that his brother had not cooperated fully – as he previously believed – because he “lied” about his alibi on the night of the murders.
For the past 20 months, the 54-year-old denied ever being at the dog kennels with his wife and son on the night of 7 June 2021, lying to law enforcement, his family and friends about the last time he ever saw them alive.
A damning cellphone video taken by Paul at the dog kennels just minutes before the murders captured Mr Murdaugh’s voice – placing him at the murder scene. In a bombshell moment last week when Mr Murdaugh took the stand, he admitted to lying all that time about being at the kennels.
John Marvin said he had only learned about his brother’s lie when SLED played him the video in August. His brother had not confessed to him before or after that date, he said.
Coming from a long line of local prosecutors and attorneys, John Marvin told jurors how he broke from family tradition by setting up his own businesses instead of pursuing a career in law.
He described his family as “normal”, saying that all the siblings – him, Alex, their brother Randy and their sister Lynne – were close and spent a lot of time together.
“A normal family doing family things,” he told the court of the dynasty which has ruled over the local judicial system for almost a century.
John Marvin choked back tears as he spoke about his “very special relationship” with his nephew Paul.
Paul worked with him at his businesses and he recalled several nicknames – including Little Rooster and Paw Paw – which the family had for the 22-year-old.
“I’m going to have a hard time talking about Paul. We had a very special relationship but I knew him very well,” he said.
John Marvin insisted that his brother also had a “great relationship” with his sons Paul and Buster and with his wife Maggie.
“Anything that the boys were doing Alex wanted to do,” he said, saying that they would always hunt and go to basball games together.
“The boys came first to him.”
Mr Murdaugh also had a “great” relationship with Maggie, he said, saying they often went on family vacations and trips with their sons’ friends.
Alex Murdaugh defence witness suggests there were ‘two shooters’ of wife and son
John Marvin told the court that he last saw Paul on 7 June 2021 – the day of the murders – when his nephew stopped by his house in Beaufort, South Carolina, and borrowed his vehicle.
He also spoke to his brother Mr Murdaugh that evening, describing him as “normal”.
Hours later, he found out Maggie and Paul had been murdered.
He said that Mr Murdaugh called him “absolutely hysterical” telling him to come to the Moselle property.
“Alex called me absolutely hysterical,” he said.
“As soon as I heard his voice I knew something bad was going on.”
He said Mr Murdaugh told him something to the effect of: “Maggie and Paul have been hurt really badly. Please get here as fast as you can.”
He said he rushed to his brother’s property to find “tons of people – mostly first responders of some sort” already on the scene.
Mr Murdaugh was “broken” and “distraught”, he said, later saying he would “have to make up a new word” to describe how distraught he was in the aftermath.
John Marvin has joined his family members including brother Randy, sister Lynne and Mr Murdaugh’s son Buster in putting on a united front at Mr Murdaugh’s double murder trial.
Every single day of the weeks-long trial, the family has sat together in the courtroom in a show of support for the disgraced attorney.
Arriving in court on Monday morning – just hours before his testimony – he was heard outside court vowing that “justice is coming”.
Video, captured by Live 5 News, showed the younger Murdaugh brother walking past a man holding a sign outside the courthouse which read: “Justice Coming Soon”.
As the man approached the family members, John Marvin told him: “Yes sir, justice is coming.”
In the days after the 7 June 2021 murders, John Marvin and Randy gave an appearance on Good Morning America insisting their brother’s innocence.
“My brother loved Maggie and loved Paul like nothing else on this earth, just like he loves Buster,” Randy said in the 17 June interview. “So there’s no possible way he could have anything to do with this, I can assure you.”
John added: “I can tell you he was willing and still is willing to do anything that’s asked of him. He wants this solved.”
But, some cracks started to show as Mr Murdaugh’s string of alleged crimes came to light.
After Mr Murdaugh was charged with stealing millions of dollars from his law firm, John Marvin gave an interview to local paper The Island Packet saying that he was “embarrassed” by what his brother had done.
Then, in July 2022, when Mr Murdaugh was charged with Maggie and Paul’s murders, he released a statement saying: “The entire family has been consistent that regardless of what goes on, we want the truth.”
His testimony marked the end of the defence’s case, presenting Mr Murdaugh as a loving father and son who could not have killed his loved ones and arguing that investigators botched the preservation and collection of crime scene evidence from the get-go.
This comes after jurors heard four weeks of dramatic testimony from 61 prosecution witnesses covering a trove of circumstantial evidence, including cellphone and car data, a damning video placing Mr Murdaugh at the crime scene and apparent holes in his alibi for the time for the murders.
Prosecutors claim that Mr Murdaugh shot dead Maggie and Paul, in order to distract from his string of alleged scandals and financial crimes.
Mr Murdaugh, 54, is facing life in prison for the murders of his wife and son. He has pleaded not guilty.