August 21, 1979
Scans of original transcript
MR. SEGAL: Ms. Marjorie Murdock, please.
(Whereupon, MARJORIE MURDOCK was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)
D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 12:49 p.m.
BY MR. SEGAL:
Q Ms. Murdock, would you tell us, please, where you currently reside?
A In New York City, Manhattan.
Q What is your occupation?
A I am a freelance legal secretary.
Q Are you currently employed and by whom?
A Sullivan and Cromwell for the last six years on a daily basis.
Q In 1968, were you also a legal secretary at that time?
A Yes, but then, I worked mostly weekends only.
Q Is it fair to say that you have been a legal secretary for a number of years?
A Yes; really since the late 50's.
Q Largely, what, in corporate law firms in New York City?
A Corporate, financial, no marital, no negligence.
Q Certainly, no criminal?
A Oh, no, never.
Q In 1968, did you have occasion to be admitted to the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City?
Q Would you tell us under what circumstances you came to be at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital?
A Well, that is kind of lengthy. I had had a number of very major abdominal operations between 1959 and 1968. One set was done in another hospital because I could not rouse my doctor at Medical Center, and a neighbor took me to his hospital, and I blew apart after a few years.
Q Did that have something to do with what happened in 1968?
A Yes, because I went up to Medical Center in very bad condition, and as it turned out, I had peritonitis. This operation had blown apart and everything. It was a mess, so they did a two or three-step abdominal operation to repair all this. That extended over about an 18-month period. This has nothing to do with Dr. MacDonald.
THE COURT: Could you direct her along to something that has to do with the case?
MR. SEGAL: Yes, Your Honor. I think it is predicate to it.
THE WITNESS: I want to explain why I feel qualified to be here at all, Your Honor.
MR. SEGAL: Let me do it this way, Ms. Murdock.
THE COURT: Don't volunteer. Those lawyers out there will ask you enough questions.
THE WITNESS: I realize lawyers like to talk, but they don't like to listen.
MR. SEGAL: You are probably right, Ms. Murdock.
THE COURT: Well, in that view of it, I think maybe we ought to reconsider. Now, you go on and tell us your version.
THE WITNESS: And I will make it brief.
THE COURT: All right, go on.
THE WITNESS: So, anyway, I got a massive stomachache where I was not able to stand up, and I called up at Presbyterian Hospital and they put me in to do exploratory work for a week. They put tubes every place they could find to put one in. That meant I could not read or anything like that and every two or three hours I was rushed down to various laboratories for tests, which was very boresome, and, you know.
BY MR. SEGAL:
Q We are talking about the 1968 admission?
A 1968, when I first saw Jeffrey MacDonald.
Q Had you ever known him or known of him?
A Oh, no.
Q How long had you been in the hospital before you came in contact with Dr. MacDonald?
A Only a matter of hours. They had just put me in bed and taken a couple of specimens, and then, this young man dove at me and said, "How do you do? I am Jeffrey MacDonald. I have to ask you a few questions," which had gone on many times in my life, and I thought, "Oh." So, he asked a few questions.
Q You mean he kept his word to you?
A Yes, he didn't ask me my age, you know, serial number, marital status, none of that. He asked me what hurt, what history I had medically, and I told him briefly. Everything he asked had to do with what hurt. He went away. He said, "I am the intern on your team."
Q What was your reaction to all that?
A I was very relieved. I thought I would have a two or three hour -- most of the interns come and they apologize and you say, "That is all right, honey. I know you have to practice on somebody," but he didn't do that.
Q How long did you see Dr. MacDonald in the course of that stay in the hospital?
A Oh, I think, several weeks as I recall. I think they work in monthly hitches. I could be wrong.
Q At that point --
A (Interposing) He was on the surgical team. He was the bottom man on the surgical team.
Q And were you in a room with other patients?
A Oh, I was in a ward. I think it had 12 or 14 beds.
Q Did you see Dr. MacDonald in the course of that period of time?
Q What can you tell us based upon what you observed there about his attitude toward the patients as human beings?
A Well, I had to watch him and everything else because I had no entertainment, no amusement.
Q Were you not able to read at that time?
A I was confined to bed; no, it was too much trouble to plaster my glasses on this tube, so he ran in and out a great deal. I know, as I told you, I was pleased with his bed interview. There was a little old lady across the way who was on her side in a kind of fetus position. She just lay there like a lump. That baffled me. I thought, "I wonder what she is here for?" Nothing ever happened with her.
Q You say "nothing ever happened with her." You mean you saw no treatment?
A She didn't -- I never saw anything, but I was in and out a lot, so finally, Dr. MacDonald came tearing in as he often did and tore out, but this time, he came running back with two blankets. I thought, "That is funny. What are the maids doing?" He went over to this little body and covered her with the blankets. He tucked them in and he kept running.
Q Why did that strike you as unusual at that time that you took note of it?
A Well, he really wasn't required even to note this woman, but he saw a patient with a sheet and nothing else over her and evidently felt she would be better off with more protection, which he provided instead of calling the maids.
Q Did you have any other occasions during that period of time to observe the way Dr. MacDonald cared on a human level now about people he was dealing with?
A Yeah, well, I had a great many, but one of the most revealing to me personally, and I have already told you, I am up and down like a yo-yo. One of the times I went to the laboratory for one of the numerous tests -- and believe me, surgery is a pleasure when they get through with these tests -- I was down in the laboratory and they were doing all these things over and over. Pretty soon, this white garment came bouncing in and said, "Is it finished?" They said, "Well, we are almost finished." Dr. MacDonald said, "Do you care if I look?" They said, "No." So, he looked at whatever he looked at and then he waited and helped them get me out of this machinery and wheeled me in my chair to bed.
Q You mean he did that?
A Yes. Now, ordinarily, I would have been put out in the hall in a chair until an orderly or a maid or some menial could come and wheel me back. It didn't take any great brilliance, but I think he did that only because he felt sorry for this old creature who would be sitting once again out in the hall waiting to be shoveled back to bed. I think that is great.
Q Based on your contacts with Dr. MacDonald, do you have an opinion as to whether Dr. MacDonald is a violent person?
A Oh, quite to the contrary. I think he is 100 percent a giver; never a taker -- never.
Q When you say "a giver," how does that relate to being violent?
A Well, I got, in those weeks that I watched him -- all the doctors in good medical centers are talented and skillful -- but the superb doctor, and I don't care whether he is an intern or the Chief of Staff -- is the doctor who will do anything that will support his patient and make the patient climb through and stand up and go home.
Q Did you observe that quality in Dr. MacDonald?
A Absolutely. There was no task too tiny for him if it helped the patient in his care.
MR. SEGAL: Thank you, Ms. Murdock. The Government may cross-examine.
MR. BLACKBURN: No questions.
THE COURT: We will go to lunch now. You didn't have any questions; did you?
MR. BLACKBURN: No, sir.
THE COURT: Members of the jury, we will let you retire. We will come back today at 2:30. Don't talk about the case. Have a good lunch and come back at 2:30.
(The proceeding was recessed at 12:58 p.m., to reconvene at 2:30 p.m., this same day.)