Alex Murdaugh's former best friend of 40 years broke down in court as he described the moment he learned the disgraced lawyer had stolen millions of dollars from his law firm clients - and $192,000 from himself.
Chris Wilson choked on emotion as he said the betrayal 'blew my mind'and revealed that "I don't know how to feel anymore" about the man he had known and "loved" for most of his life.
"I was so crazy. I loved the guy for so long and I probably still loved him a little bit but I was so angry and I can't remember how it ended," he said of Mr. Murdaugh.
Mr. Wilson's emotional testimony came in at the Colleton County Courthouse on ThursdaySouth Carolinawhere Mr. Murdaugh is on trial over themurdersby his wife Maggie and son Paul.
Maggie and Paul were brutally shot to death in the doghouse of the Murdaugh family home on June 7, 2021.
Prosecutors allege that Mr Murdaugh murdered his wife and son to distract from his financial crimes, which were catching up with him.
At the time of the murders, Mr Murdaugh's law firm PMPED was closing in on his alleged multi-million dollar fraud scheme, with a colleague confronting him on the morning of the killings.
His finances have also come under intense scrutiny in a lawsuit filed by the Mallory Beach family - a 19-year-old woman who died in a crash on the Murdaugh family boat in 2019.
Paul was allegedly drunk driving the boat at the time and crashed it, throwing Beach overboard. Her body washed ashore a week later. Paul was charged with multiple felonies over the boatwreck and was facing 25 years in prison at the time of his murder.
A hearing for the boating accident lawsuit was also scheduled for the week of the murders. It was postponed after the Maggie and Paul murders.
Separate from his murder trial, Mr. Murdaugh is currently facing a series of around 100 felonies from multiple charges of embezzling millions of dollars from clients at PMPED.
In all, he is accused of stealing nearly $8.5 million from customers in scam schemes dating back about a decade to 2011.
The lawyer, who has since been disbarred, represented clients in wrongful death lawsuits before allegedly pocketing the settlement money for himself.
The defense is asking the judge to remove evidence of Mr Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes from the murder trial.
Judge Newman said he will hear testimony on the alleged financial crimes in the absence of the jury to determine what evidence, if any, will be admitted.
Mr Wilson, also an attorney, told the court that he and Mr Murdaugh first met in high school but became close while attending the same law school and living together.
"He was one of my best friends, I thought he was, and I thought he felt the same way about me," he testified, his voice cracking.
When prosecutors asked Creighton Waters if he felt that way now, he replied, "I don't know how I feel now."
The two men had a close professional relationship and Mr Wilson told the court about a specific personal injury case they worked on together in January 2021.
In total, clients won $5.5 million from two judgments in the case, with Mr. Murdaugh's firm taking a $792,000 reduction.
Mr. Wilson testified how his friend asked him to pay the $792,000 check directly to him instead of PMPED so he could structure it through an annuity.
Mr Murdaugh told him his law firm had already approved the event, he said.
Because he "trusted" his friend, Mr. Wilson testified that it raised no suspicions.
"It was different, but it didn't raise any red flags or suspicions that something was going on," he said.
Mr Wilson broke down and wiped his eyes with tears as he quietly acknowledged that he had spoken to Mr Murdaugh and was among the friends and family who had gathered at the Murdaugh home following the murders of Maggie and Paul.
"Everyone was destroyed," he said, adding that at the time "nobody was focused on" financial matters.
However, in July 2021 - a month after the killings - Mr Wilson said his friend had come forward and said he had not been able to structure the charges as planned and had to pay the money back and have it paid directly to PMPED.
By this time, PMPED had determined that the $792,000 was missing and had asked Mr. Murdaugh about it.
Mr. Murdaugh only had $600,000 to pay it back, with Mr. Wilson saying he undertook the additional $192,000 on the basis that Mr. Murdaugh would pay him back.
A month later, he said he still hadn't received the money but didn't want to pursue the issue because he was worried about his friend.
"I didn't want to push him," he said.
Mr Wilson became emotional as he said he was increasingly concerned that Mr Murdaugh might kill himself.
"I was worried like everyone else, everyone in his company, everyone in his family, that he was going to harm himself. That he would kill himself," he said.
He had Mr. Murdaugh sign a handwritten note pledging to pay him back the money so that he could claim his estate in the event of his death.
On September 3, 2021 - three months after the murders - Mr Wilson said he had finally learned his friend had betrayed him and many other people.
That day PMPED partners had discovered Mr Murdaugh was pocketing clients' money and he allegedly admitted to the fraud scheme and was forced to resign.
The scandal was not disclosed publicly that day, but the PMPED partners got in touch with Mr Wilson and told him what they knew.
"It blew me away ... I didn't know what to do," he said.
Mr Wilson testified that he met Mr Murdaugh the following day, 4 September 2021, and confronted him about his fraud scheme.
He said he asked Mr Murdaugh if there was anything else he should know.
Mr Wilson choked back tears and revealed his longtime friend had broken down and confessed to stealing the money to fund a secret 20-year opioid addiction.
"He broke down crying," he said.
"I was so crazy. I had loved the guy for so long and I probably still loved him a little bit but I was so angry and I can't remember how it ended. How could I not know these things or these things see?"
When asked how Mr Murdaugh had taken his position on him, he said: "He said he 'cracked me' ... he said he 'cracked a lot of people'."
Then, in another dramatic twist, Mr. Murdaugh was shot dead on the side of the road in Hampton County just hours later.
He survived and called 911, claiming he was mugged in a drive-by shooting while changing a tire on his vehicle.
Mr Wilson described his shock at hearing the news: "What the hell is going on? I thought he tried to kill himself."
But the disgraced attorney's story quickly unraveled, and he confessed to police that he orchestrated the botched hitman conspiracy so his surviving son, Buster, could get a $1 million life insurance policy. Mr Murdaugh and his alleged co-conspirator Curtis Smith - whom he paid to shoot him - are also charged in this incident.
Mr Wilson testified that he had not spoken to Mr Murdaugh since the morning of the shooting.
Mr Murdaugh had texted him and sent him a letter.
One of the lyrics was read in court: "So sorry for the mess I made. I would do anything to make it right.”
Mr Wilson told the court that he responded to the text with a simple platitude and handed the letter to his attorney.
During Thursday's shadow trial, the court also heard testimony from Jeanne Seckinger, the chief financial officer of Mr Murdaugh's former law firm PMPED, who revealed that she had confronted Mr Murdaugh about the $792,000 missing in payment on the day of the Maggie and Paul murders.
She told the court that she first had a conversation with Mr Murdaugh about the missing funds in late May 2021, when she noted he was trying to structure legal fees he had received from a case.
At the time, she said she was "concerned" but didn't think he was "stealing" the money — just "hiding it" — and said he told her he was "trying to put some money in Maggie's name." , to protect it from the boating accident lawsuit.
However, as of June 7, 2021, the law firm's partners had determined that the case in which he worked with Mr. Wilson was missing $792,000 in legal fees.
When she reached out to Mr Murdaugh to ask him about it, she said he gave her a "dirty look" - something she said she "had ever gotten from him before".
She said she told him she had "reason to believe he received the money himself and I needed proof he didn't."
Mr Murdaugh reassured her that "the money was there and he could get it," she said.
During their conversation, she said Mr Murdaugh received a phone call telling him his ailing father Randy's condition was terminal and they stopped talking about the money and "instead spoke as friends" about his family . Randy died three days after Maggie and Paul on June 10, 2021.
At around 4pm on June 7, Ms Seckinger said Mr Murdaugh then called her and asked for information about his pension because he said he was working on his finances ahead of the forthcoming boating accident hearing.
Less than five hours later, prosecutors say Mr Murdaugh shot and killed Maggie and Paul in the doghouse on the family estate around 8.50pm.
Her brutal killings ended the law firm's investigation into the missing funds.
Then, over the coming months, the law firm's partners uncovered a suspected multi-million dollar fraud scheme in which he had stolen millions from their clients and pocketed himself - culminating in the September 3 confrontation and resignation .
As part of the plan, Mr. Murdaugh allegedly sent checks to a fake account under the Forge Consulting name and to Mr. Murdaugh's personal accounts.
Forge Consulting is a real company that was not involved in the program. It is now suing Mr Murdaugh for damage to his reputation.
Michael Gunn of Forge Consulting testified how he learned Mr Murdaugh was posing as his company to pocket the money.
Some fraudulent payments also went through Palmetto State Bank and its former CEO, Russell Laffitte.
Mr Laffitte would act as conservator, passing the money to the bank as if he were holding it for the beneficiary, she explained. Instead, "these checks were later turned over to Alex's personal use."
Mr Laffitte - Ms Seckinger's brother-in-law - was convicted in November 2022 of financial fraud linked to Mr Murdaugh's alleged fraud schemes.
Much of Thursday's trial took place as a shadow trial while the judge heard testimony on evidence of financial crimes.
In a rare moment while the jury was sitting, Dylan Hightower -- an investigator with the 14th Circuit law firm -- testified how he tracked down Maggie's phone on June 8, the day after the murders.
Maggie's phone was found using Find my iPhone, which was dumped about a quarter mile from the Murdaugh property on the edge of Mosel Road.
The jury was shown photos of the phone lying in bushes about 15 to 20 feet from the side of the road.
Under cross-examination, Mr Hightower was asked if he found it difficult to throw a phone out of a driver's window across the roadway so that it would land there.
Mr. Hightower testified that this was not difficult as it could simply be slung horizontally.
SLED Lt. Britt Dove, who analyzed the phones of Paul, Maggie and Mr Murdaugh, testified earlier on Wednesday that her phone was locked from 8:49 p.m. and the last change of orientation on the phone - movement - was at 9:06 p.m. on June 7, 2021 o'clock took place.
The defense is trying to challenge the theory that it was Mr Murdaugh who threw Maggie's phone there because there was no change of orientation on Maggie's phone after 9:06 p.m. and at that time Mr Murdaugh's phone steps near the house pursued.
However, the SLED agent testified that when the phone's screen was off, no orientation change would be seen.
Mr Hightower also testified on Thursday what he found when he downloaded the contents of Mr Murdaugh's phone three days after the murders.
On that day - June 10 - there were only two FaceTime calls in Mr Murdaugh's call log for the date of the murders. His Verizon records showed 73 calls that day.
Earlier testimony showed that by September all call logs from June 7 had been deleted.
Lt. Dove testified that this could only be done manually and intentionally by someone on the phone.
Mr Murdaugh, 54, faces a life sentence for the murder of his wife and son.
Prosecutors allege he shot his family members to distract from a slew of other scandals and crimes surrounding him. He denies the allegations and insists her killer or killers are still at large.
In addition to the financial crimes, Mr Murdaugh was also afflicted with a 20-year opioid addiction.
Questions are now also mounting about a series of mysterious deaths linked to the Murdaughs.
In 2018, Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaughs' longtime housekeeper, died in a mysterious trip and fall accident at the family home.
At the time, her death was thought to be an accidental fall - although an investigation was reopened after the murders of Maggie and Paul. The Satterfield family were among the victims of Mr Murdaugh's fraud scheme.
An investigation into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County, has also been reopened.South Carolina.
The openly gay teenager, 19, suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit and run. But the victim's family has long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name appearing in multiple police tips and community rumours.