For over a decade as the Murdaugh family's housekeeper, Blanca Turrubiate-Simpson said she never knew Alex and Margaret Murdaugh to argue, only "some minor disagreements."
But in the months before June 2021, when Alex Murdaugh would call 911 to say he found Margaret and the couple's youngest son, Paul, fatally shot on the grounds of their sprawling South Carolina estate, Simpson said the family matriarch made coffee, pulled her into a room and shut the door.
"She was worried about a lawsuit and stated they wanted $30 million and was crying, stating, 'We don't have that kind of money. If I could give them everything that I got and make this go away, I would do it in a heartbeat. I'll start over. We'll start over. I just want it gone,'" Simpson testified that Margaret told her.
The lawsuit was in connection to a deadly boat crash case in which Paul was facing trial for three felony counts of boating under the influence at the time of his death.
Simpson's testimony, at moments tearful as she recalled her friendship with Margaret, gave a glimpse into her employer's state of mind prior to the slayings, and provided the jury further insight into Margaret's nearly three-decade marriage with Murdaugh, a once-powerful lawyer who is standing trial in the murders of his wife and son.
The prosecution's line of questioning about whether Margaret was concerned about money issues had led defense lawyer Richard "Dick" Harpootlian to call for a mistrial, and he argued that it amounted to hearsay and so should not be heard by the jury. But Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman disagreed.
Simpson in her testimony before the jury said that Margaret confided in her that her husband "doesn't tell me everything."
"She felt that Alex was not being truthful to her with regard to what was going on with that lawsuit," Simpson said.
On cross-examination, Simpson told the defense the pair had small tiffs, like over the paint color of their beach house remodel, and that Margaret complained that she just wanted her husband to sit still for 10 minutes so they could talk.
But ultimately, Simpson agreed that Murdaugh had made his wife "his all."
"He adored her," Simpson added. "He loved her."
But Simpson testified to other presumably odd events and behavior in the days and weeks after the murders.
Initially, Simpson said Margaret had texted her on June 7, 2021 — the day of the murders — to ask her to come to their Colleton County estate to cook dinner for the family. Margaret and Paul were at the family's beach home that day, but Simpson testified that Margaret "said 'Alex wants me to come home,'" and that she sounded "disappointed" to have to leave the beach house.
Simpson said she went to the home to prepare cubed steak with white rice, green beans and gravy, then left it on the stove and texted Margaret before going home.
The next morning, Simpson said Murdaugh called her, telling her "'B, they're gone. They're gone.'"
Confused by what he meant, he told her, "'No, B, they're dead.'"
Simpson said Murdaugh asked her to help clean up the home, and she testified about finding pots of leftovers in the refrigerator when normally the family left them out for her to clean up. She said Margaret's pajamas were also folded neatly in a doorway, which was unusual. She picked up a damp towel near a small puddle of water by the shower and a pair of khaki pants and washed them.
Earlier witnesses testified that state agents had sent Murdaugh and several attorney friends, family members and others who gathered after the killings to the home so they wouldn't be in crime scene photos near the property's dog kennels, where the bodies of Margaret and Paul were found. The defense estimated there were 12 to 15 people inside in the first hours after the bodies were discovered.
During his questioning Friday, prosecutor John Meadors honed in on the clothes Murdaugh was wearing in a Snapchat video his son took a few hours before the killings — khaki pants, loafers and a seafoam-colored shirt.
Simpson said in the months after the murders, Murdaugh asked her if she recalled what he was wearing and said, "'I got a bad feeling.'" She said he asked her if she remembered the shirt he was wearing and that it was the brand "Vinny Vines."
But she said she only remembered a blue-colored polo shirt.
"In my mind, I was saying I don't remember a Vines shirt. It was the polo shirt," Simpson said. "I didn't say anything, but I was kind of thrown back because I don't remember him wearing that shirt that day."
"Have you ever, ever, ever seen that shirt again?" Meadors later asked.
"Not to my knowledge," Simpson said.
Under cross-examination, Simpson testified that she never saw blood on the khaki pants she had cleaned.
The prosecution's case is expected to last through next week before the defense calls its witnesses.
If found guilty, Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without parole.