Alex Murdaugh‘s defense team have sensationally claimed a South Carolina drugs gang called the Walterboro Cowboys could have been behind the brutal murders of his wife and son.
The disgraced legal scion, 54, is accused of killing Maggie and Paul on June 7, 2021, in a bid to distract from the millions he embezzled from his law firm while in the grips of a $60,000 a week opioid addiction.
The defense this week said the Cowboys gang sold drugs to Murdaugh’s dealer Curtis ‘Cousin Eddie’ Smith. His lawyers suggested Smith was ripping off the Cowboys and they were out for revenge.
Murdaugh claimed he had no idea where his pills came from, but a Cowboys gangster last year said the legal heir was ‘running half the drugs in Colleton County’.
An associate of Cowboys gang leader Khiry Broughton appears in his music video for the 2013 song ‘Can’t Let You Take Me’
Alex Murdaugh leaving the Colleton County Court in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Thursday
Murdaugh later told authorities he hired Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, 61,(pictured) to shoot him. But the 911 call reveals he had initially described his alleged shooter as a ‘younger’, ‘white fella’ with ‘really, really short hair’
Defense attorney Jim Griffin suggested to jurors in the double-murder trial Wednesday that Murdaugh’s cousin Eddie was skimming money off the top of payments meant for the Cowboys for narcotics.
Griffin insinuated that the Cowboys could have been out for revenge and killed Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22.
He grilled lead investigator David Owen over why none of the DNA from the murder scene was cross-referenced with that of Cowboy gang members.
The Cowboys have been operating in Colleton County since around 2012 and are described as ‘the most violent gang’ in the area.
They are instantly recognizable for the signature Stars and Stripes bandanas they wear over their faces.
Armed with automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns, the Cowboys are extremely territorial, even trying to intimidate cops who show up on ‘their turf’.
They are a branch of the Bloods, a primarily black street gang founded in Los Angeles in the 1970s which has proliferated throughout the United States.
The Cowboys operate just off the I-95, a rich vein of criminality through which guns, drugs and moonshine have been running since the days of the Prohibition.
Self-professed leader Khiry Broughton, a wannabe rapper who calls himself K Blacka, appeared in a 2013 rap video for his song ‘Can’t Let You Take Me’ with an American flag bandana over his face making trigger pulling gestures at the camera.
He rapped: ‘I’ve been f*****g with them killas and my n****s clappin’ / You run up on me I’m gone’ leave the scene nasty.’
Broughton was jailed for nine years on organized crime conspiracy charges in 2017 along with seven other gang members. Prosecutors said the gang leader had participated in an attempted murder in November, 2015, among other charges.
Alongside Broughton, US District Judge David Norton sent down Bryant Jameek Davis (aka, “Savo”), Zaquann Ernest Hampton (aka, “TOB”), Christopher Sean Brown (aka, “Roughish”) and Quintin Fishburne on charges of attempted murder in aid of racketeering.
Also jailed on organized crime charges were Clyde Naquan Hampton (aka, “One Loyal Shooter”), Matthew Rashuan Jones (aka, “Boogie Mac”) and William Lamont Cox (aka, “Wataz”).
Self-professed leader Khiry Broughton and his associate William Cox (aka Wataz). The pair were jailed for their role in gang-related crimes in 2017
Self-professed leader Khiry Broughton (center), a wannabe rapper who calls himself K Blacka, appeared in a 2013 rap video for his song ‘Can’t Let You Take Me’. He rapped: ‘I’ve been f*****g with them killas and my n****s clappin’ / You run up on me I’m gone’ leave the scene nasty’
William Cox (aka Wataz) poses with a pile of white powder while smoking a blunt in his music video for Bricks Bands. He was jailed alongside gang leader Broughton in November 2017
Following his murder trial, Murdaugh faces judgment for two conspiracy counts relating to the alleged supply of opioids alongside Smith.
The indictment unsealed in June last year states that between October 2013 and September 2021, Murdaugh and Smith along with ‘persons known and unknown’ conspired to buy and distribute Oxycodone.
During that time, Murdaugh is accused of providing Smith with at least 437 checks totaling more than $2.4million.
In August 2022, on the same day Murdaugh was indicted for the murders of his wife and son, two high-ranking Cowboys, Jerry Rivers and Spencer Roberts, were charged with drug smuggling.
At the time, South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters, now the lead prosecutor in the double-murder trial, said Murdaugh was laundering money through Smith and his Cowboy accomplices.
‘Misappropriated money flowed from Alex Murdaugh out various ways,’ Waters stated. ‘A lot of that went through Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, and then they continued downstream to other accomplices who helped cash and launder that money. And that would go through Spencer Roberts, and Mr. Rivers was one of those.’
Speaking last year, Roberts’ attorney, Mark Peper, claimed the charges against the Cowboys had been trumped up because prosecutors wanted to nail Murdaugh.
‘They don’t have enough to get Murdaugh on the murders,’ he told the New York Post. ‘They’re desperate. This is trying to get ‘Cousin Eddie’ to talk more or for Alex to talk more. They’re trying to send a message but it’s ridiculous.’
One Cowboys gang member speaking outside Rivers’ house said: ‘They (the cops) want to get the Cowboys name in there to muddy the water [of the Murdaugh case] and get everyone to think we done killed those people … Maybe look at some of the corrupt white sheriffs here instead.’
In August 2022, on the same day Murdaugh was indicted for the murders of his wife and son, two high-ranking Cowboys, Jerry Rivers (pictured) and Spencer Roberts, were charged with drug smuggling. At the time, South Carolina Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters, now the lead prosecutor in the double-murder trial, said that Murdaugh was laundering money through Smith and his Cowboy accomplices
Spencer Roberts was tied by prosecutors to Murdaugh through his drug dealer cousin Smith
Paul, Margaret, Alex and Buster (from left to right). The legal scion has admitted to stealing millions from his housekeeper’s sons and his law firm, but denies any involvement in the murders of his wife and son
‘I’m going to tell you something,’ another man at the gang member’s house told the Post. ‘Alex Murdaugh is running half the drugs in this county.’
Following his murder trial, Murdaugh is facing around 100 charges over almost $9million in stolen cash.
Smith entered the frame in the murder investigation following a botched life insurance scam in which Murdaugh had his cousin shoot him on a rural Hampton County roadside in September 2021, three months after Maggie and Paul’s deaths.
Murdaugh survived and later told cops he had asked Smith to shoot him in order to secure a $10 million life insurance payday for his surviving son Buster.
Smith denies this role and says he was trying to stop Murdaugh from shooting himself.
Following the roadside shooting, cops discovered Smith was the driver after spotting the pick up truck used in the crime at his home in Walterboro.
Investigators obtained a search warrant and found narcotics as well as a ledger detailing numbers, payments and pills. A probe of Smith’s bank accounts also revealed numerous payments worth hundreds of thousands from Murdaugh.
Buster Murdaugh listens to his father Alex Murdaugh’s recorded interview, where he describes a suicide attempt he planned
John Marvin Murdaugh, brother of Alex Murdaugh, listens to testimony during his brother’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse on Thursday
The evidence is now before jurors after Murdaugh’s defense on Wednesday ‘opened the door’ for the prosecution after questioning the lead investigator in the murder case about whether he was aware of the legal scion’s huge payments to Smith for drugs.
Defense attorney Griffin suggested to SLED agent David Owen that the money was being paid to the ‘Cowboy’ drug gang in Walterboro, but that Smith had been skimming funds off the top.
The defense attorney insinuated one of the Cowboys could be a suspect in Paul and Maggie’s murders, and asked why their cell phones and DNA were never evaluated.
Judge Clifton Newman ruled on the side of the State that this meant Smith and the September 4 roadside shooting were fair game for the prosecution.
Prosecutors argue the evidence helps to prove why Murdaugh was motivated to kill his wife and son – to distract from his financial crimes which had come to a head ‘like a gathering storm’.
TIMELINE: NIGHT OF THE KILLINGS
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.