The former law firm's CFO says his wife and son were slain, she approached Alex Murdaugh about missing monies.

Sherif Saad
MurderPhoto byAxel EresonUnsplash

( CNN ) - As prosecutors try to persuade the judge to allow testimony about Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes, the former chief financial officer of Murdaugh's law firm testified in his double murder trial on Thursday about confronting the now-disbarred lawyer about missing funds the morning his wife and son were killed.

Judge Clifton Newman considered whether to allow the inclusion of evidence regarding Murdaugh's alleged scams, for which he faces 99 counts apart from the murder prosecution, during Jeanne Seckinger's testimony on Thursday morning without the jury present.

In court pleadings, prosecutors stated they thought Murdaugh killed his wife Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, and his son Paul Murdaugh, age 22, to draw attention away from those alleged misdeeds, which the state claims were about to come to light on June 7, 2021, when they were slain.

Seckinger said on Thursday that she addressed Murdaugh that morning about $792,000 in missing cash and that legal fees ought to have been paid to the business, which was renamed Parker Law Group after Murdaugh was fired, rather than to specific lawyers.

Seckinger claimed that he and other company members became aware of a problem in May 2021 after failing to receive a fee check related to a settlement in a case Murdaugh had with another lawyer, Chris Wilson.

"Either he has a check that is legitimately payable to PMPED that he hasn't given us, or he has gotten a check due to him," Seckinger said.

Seckinger stated that she met Murdaugh on June 7 and demanded that he provide evidence to disprove her suspicions that he had received the money personally.

Seckinger added, "He gave me the assurance that the money was there and that he could obtain it."

The family of Mallory Beach, 19, who was murdered in February 2019 when a boat owned by Murdaugh and reportedly operated by Paul struck a bridge piling, was suing Murdaugh at the time.

Following a hearing in the civil lawsuit planned for June 10, 2021, three days after the deaths, Murdaugh's financial records, which state court files said "would expose (Murdaugh) for his years of alleged wrongdoing," may have been made public.

In their pretrial motion, the prosecution said that "Murdaugh used the killings as a distraction from himself and a tactic to buy some more time to attempt to prevent his financial crimes from being found, which, if disclosed, would have resulted in personal legal and financial catastrophe for Murdaugh."

The missing $792,000 had already been spent, according to that document. Seckinger stated on Thursday that the June 10 hearing was abandoned as a result of the passing of Maggie and Paul, and the company decided against questioning Murdaugh about the missing funds.

After the deaths, "Alex was distressed and unhappy and not in the workplace much," Seckinger recalled. "And nobody wanted to bother him with anything that we didn't think was missing, as we still had a few months before the year's end to fix it." Therefore, we decided not to bother him at that moment.

Attorney: The alleged financial offenses are "absolutely pertinent" to the murder case.

Murdaugh was disbarred following a flurry of accusations of white-collar theft and fraud, according to the South Carolina Attorney General's Office. He is currently facing 99 charges resulting from 19 grand jury indictments, including allegations that he defrauded his clients and the former law firm of nearly $9 million.

If found guilty in both cases, Murdaugh may receive two life terms without the chance of release.

The defense has contested the validity of the evidence in the murder trial, arguing that the fraud trials have no bearing on whether Murdaugh is guilty of killing his wife and son. Jim Griffin, the defense counsel, said on Thursday that allowing the evidence may prolong the murder trial by several weeks.

However, Creighton Waters of the South Carolina Attorney General's Office told the judge that the state hoped to concentrate on "just a few areas" most closely related to the case. The Murdaugh family has longstanding ties to the local solicitor's office, and this is why the state is prosecuting the case.

"This specific crime has two things that are closely related in time." That was the argument that morning with Ms. Seckinger about the (missing) fees that had been simmering for a time, according to Waters. Second, there is the upcoming hearing in the boat case that is taking place that week.

The defense questioned, "Can you come up with any reasons?" Waters commented about the defense's Wednesday cross-examination of a friend of Paul, who was questioned about whether he could conceive of any motive for Murdaugh to conduct the killings. The pal said he was unable to.

Waters said, "And all of this throughout his life, which is a fantastic chain of circumstances unlike anything ever witnessed." It is unquestionably vital for the jurors to take this into account when they analyze the ideal storm that was coming for this individual on June 7th.

Thursday's closed-door hearing of the prosecution's evidence demonstrated that Murdaugh's alleged misdeeds extended much beyond the $792,000. Murdaugh was questioned by Seckinger regarding the morning of the killings.

Separately, Waters ran down a long list of incidents in which he allegedly stole money from settlements in cases he handled for the law firm's CFO. Seckinger provided evidence on the stand on Thursday that Murdaugh "stole" what amounted to millions of dollars from customers and the legal firm by providing documentation from the case after case. She said that the business was liable for making good on Murdaugh's theft.

Eventually, Murdaugh was questioned by the company's partners over the stolen funds.

Seckinger added, "And it was my understanding that Alex confessed it and that it was agreed he would quit," adding the company opted not to make the departure announcement until the start of the next week.

But before that could happen, Seckinger claimed to have overheard Murdaugh being shot while standing by the side of the road. Murdaugh later admitted to conspiring to have him killed as part of an insurance fraud scam, allegedly so that his son would be eligible to receive a $10 million life insurance claim.

Nobody knew what to assume, according to Seckinger, but the company promptly went through its finances and hired an independent company to do a forensic audit.

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