The descendant of a once-dominant legal dynasty in South Carolina, who is now accused of murder, admitted to stealing $3.6 million (£3.1 million) in a single year.
According to the prosecution, 54-year-old Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son in an effort to hide his crimes.
He has admitted to years of theft to support a serious drug addiction, despite his denials that he had any involvement in their deaths.
He claimed that at his peak, he was consuming up to 3,000 mg of opiates daily.
At the Murdaugh family's hunting estate in June 2021, Mr. Murdaugh's wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot to death. Authorities think Mr. Murdaugh killed them in order to hide millions in theft and misappropriation over a period of years.
If found guilty of the murders, he could spend the rest of his life in a state prison.
On the second day of a contentious cross-examination in a courtroom in South Carolina, Mr. Murdaugh admitted to years of theft from clients and people he "loved and cared about," but he downplayed the prosecutor's suggestion that he was facing apparent insurmountable financial difficulties in the weeks leading up to the deaths of his wife and son.
He claimed that the crimes helped him pay for an opiate addiction that caused him to take as many as 60 pills a day, totaling $50,000 per week. He described in court the excruciating withdrawal symptoms he experienced when trying to stop using drugs.
There were days when I took more, he admitted. "Opiates energized me. It made whatever I was doing more interesting. ".
"When you're doing the wrong things I was doing, you have all kinds of ways of justifying [it]," Mr. Murdaugh continued. ".
He told the jury, "I'm not saying that makes it right. "But there were a lot of things when I was doing it and I was addicted as I was. so that you can see yourself in the mirror. You tell yourself lies. " .
99 separate financial charges totaling approximately $8.8m (£7.3m) in stolen funds are being brought against Mr. Murdaugh.
Since Mr. Waters started cross-examining Mr. Murdaugh on Thursday, the two have argued repeatedly about the prosecutor's repeated claim that Mr. Murdaugh's account is difficult to accept. On Friday, Mr. Waters noted that Mr. Murdaugh had finally admitted to stealing millions of dollars and lying to the police about where he was the night of the murders this week.
In response, Mr. Murdaugh asserted that he had been "pleading" to speak with the prosecution.
He said, "I've been trying to sit down and talk to y'all since at least January and never, ever got a response.
The Murdaugh trial, which is now in its fifth week, has dominated news coverage in the southern part of the state, where the Murdaugh family has been a well-known and affluent part of the legal community for generations.
On Thursday, Mr. Murdaugh acknowledged telling a lie when he said he wasn't with Maggie and Paul the night they passed away. This claim was later proven false by cell phone footage taken at a kennel on their property, as well as by car-tracking and other data.
Mr. Murdaugh claimed that the denials were the result of paranoia brought on by his opiate addiction. .
Through Friday afternoon, when Mr. Waters is anticipated to ask specific questions about Maggie and Paul's deaths, the cross-examination will go on.