During the first three days of Alex Murdaugh’s trial, prosecutors worked to establish the foundation of the murder case by calling law enforcement officers and forensic experts to the stand at the crime scene.

The defense, in turn, focused on what it considered to be a poorly established motive and the ways in which the crime scene could have been contaminated by those who responded to the 911 call.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian expressed concern about the preservation of the crime scene. A bloody footprint was found that was not that of any of the victims but was created by a first responder, according to the defense, which the investigator confirmed.

«Should the police be walking around the scene?» Harpootlian asked Special Agent Melinda Worley of the State Law Enforcement Division.

«No,» Worley said.

Harpootlian also questioned whether the forensics team was unable to find a shoe that matched a print found on Maggie Murdaugh’s calf because it failed to follow agency procedures for documenting prints. Worley, in response, testified that there were some footprints that she did not notice while she was on the scene.

«If I would have realized it was footwear at the scene, I would have documented it correctly,» Worley said.

Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Friday.Grace Beahm Alford / The Post and Courier via AP, Pool

Murdaugh is accused of murdering his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and son Paul Murdaugh, 22, on the property of their rural home in Moselle, about 65 miles west of Charleston. Police responded after Murdaugh called 911 on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh, an attorney, is a scion of a powerful South Carolina legal family. He has maintained his innocence in the murders and a series of financial crimes in a separate case that prosecutors say may be related.

With the key witnesses thus far focusing on the weapons used and the evidence gathered at the crime scene, the descriptions provided to the jury during the first three days have been particularly lurid. Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, witnesses said, were shot multiple times before finally being shot in the head: Paul with a shotgun and Maggie with an AR-style rifle.

«His brain went flying,» Harpootlian said in the courtroom Monday, recounting what happened to Paul Murdaugh’s body. «There is hair, blood and pieces of skull on the ceiling around him.»

Colleton County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Greene was the first law enforcement officer to arrive on the scene and the first witness called to the stand.

He said Thursday that he found Murdaugh upset and anxious, but that he was not crying when he was interviewed. Murdaugh quickly shared his alibi and theories within seconds of meeting the officer, he showed the body camera video. Murdaugh made it clear that he had been visiting his mother and suggested that Paul may have died from his involvement in a boating accident. Murdaugh also asked multiple times if his wife and his child were dead despite a large pool of blood and exposed brain matter.

«Any reasonable person who came across those bodies would conclude that they were deceased,» Greene said.

The sides seemed to square around the question of motive. The defense emphasized how close Murdaugh was to his wife and son, while prosecutors noted strange ways in which he responded to the deaths.

An investigator testified Friday that Murdaugh’s hands and clothing were clean of blood, though he said he tried to turn Paul’s body over to see if he had a pulse.

The defense, however, portrayed Murdaugh’s clean appearance as evidence of his innocence: «Did he look like someone who had just blown his son’s head off?» Jim Griffin, her second defense attorney, asked Friday.

“Again, I can’t say that for sure. A lot of things would come into play to affect that, distance being one of them,» Detective Laura Rutland responded.

Murdaugh rocked back and forth in his chair or nodded vigorously as prosecutors played back his 911 call and showed police body camera footage and video of the bloody crime scene. At different times, she also sobbed or wiped her eyes with a handkerchief.

Murdaugh’s family members have been in the courtroom, including his brothers and his 26-year-old son Buster, who has been seen making eye contact or giving a thumbs up.

On the first day of the case, Alex Murdaugh mouthed «Are you okay?» to Buster, who nodded in response.