Alex Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life in prison for killing his wife and son


Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday for the murders of his wife and son – another chapter in the downfall of the disgraced lawyer whose dynastic family had significant legal significance for decades. decades in parts of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Judge Clifton Newman, before handing down two consecutive life sentences, reminded Murdaugh of his astonishing disgrace, saying he needed to have a portrait of Murdaugh’s grandfather removed from the courtroom to ensure a fair trial. But his defense, which included Murdaugh’s testimony, was “not credible, not believable”, the judge warned the former lawyer.

“You can convince yourself of that, but you’re obviously unable to convince anyone else,” Newman said.

Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found fatally shot on the Islandton homestead on June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh, who spoke out last week in his own defense, argued that he had not killed them and found the bodies after returning from a brief visit to his sick mother that night.

Newman insisted on Friday when Murdaugh’s network of deception would end.

“I know you have to see Paul and Maggie at night when you’re trying to fall asleep. I’m sure they’re coming to visit you,” the judge told Alex. Murdaugh at some point in the Colleton County courtroom.

“Every night,” Murdaugh said.

His defense attorneys said they plan to appeal the conviction within 10 days.

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian defended the decision to let Murdaugh testify, saying his credibility was in question because of his alleged financial wrongdoings.

“Once they got that information about the character – ‘he’s a thief, he’s a liar’ – that jury must have thought he was a despicable human being and shouldn’t have been. believe,” Harpootlian told reporters after his sentencing. Murdaugh, he added, has always wanted to speak up.

Harpootlian told CNN on Friday that his client was “unhappy” with the verdict but “expected it.” The lawyer said it was “inexplicable that he executed his son and his wife in this way, in my mind”.

Murdaugh left the courtroom wearing a maroon jumpsuit and handcuffs and was released into the custody of the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Murdaugh began treatment at a Columbia reception and assessment center on Friday, according to a department news release. That included having her head shaved as part of standard department procedures, according to department spokeswoman Chrysti Shain. His treatment over the next month and a half will include medical tests and mental health and other evaluations that will help decide which maximum-security prison he will be sent to, the department said.

Alex Murdaugh during his sentencing on Friday.

Sentencing hearings typically include victim impact statements, but there were none on Friday. Instead, the hearing was notable for Newman’s direct exchanges with Murdaugh, whose defense, the judge said, represented “an attack on the integrity of the judicial system.”

“I don’t question the state’s decision not to carry out the death penalty at all,” Newman told Murdaugh.

“But as I sit here in this courtroom and look around me at the many portraits of judges and other justice officials and reflect on the fact that over the past century your family, including you, has prosecuted people here in this courtroom and many have received the death penalty probably for less serious conduct”.

“Remind me of the expression you gave in the witness box…” the judge told Murdaugh.

“We weave a tangled web,” Murdaugh said, repeating a line from his testimony.

“What did you mean by that?”

“It meant that when I lied, I kept lying.”

“And the question is when will it end?” says Newman. “It has already ended for the jury as they have concluded that you continued to lie and lie throughout your testimony.”

The judge noted Murdaugh’s longtime addition to painkillers.

The killer, Newman told Murdaugh, “may not have been you. It could have been the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills. Maybe you become another person. I’ve seen that before.

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See when the verdict was read in the Murdaugh trial

After more than a month and dozens of witnesses, jurors took less than three hours Thursday to convict Murdaugh of two counts of murder in the June 2021 murders, as well as two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

“Justice was served today,” senior prosecutor Creighton Waters said at a Thursday evening news conference. “It doesn’t matter who your family is. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what people think you have. It doesn’t matter… how prominent you are.

“If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be served in South Carolina.”

The case drew national attention – including Netflix and HBO Max documentaries – to Murdaugh, the former personal injury lawyer whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather served as prosecutors. for part of southern South Carolina from 1920 to 2006.

Prosecutors had argued that Murdaugh’s motive for the murders was to distract and delay investigations into his growing financial troubles. They focused on a story of deception, arguing that he stole millions of dollars from his former clients and his law firm and lied to cover his tracks – theft and lies that Murdaugh admitted in court.

After the verdict, the defense asked for a mistrial, but Newman denied it, saying the jury had had enough time to consider the evidence – and the evidence of guilt was “overwhelming”.

Alex Murdaugh, right, was found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul.

The defense also attacked investigators on the case, saying the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division had “failed miserably” and even fabricated evidence.

It took less than an hour for the jury to reach the unanimous decision that Murdaugh was guilty, juror Craig Moyer told ABC News.

“The evidence was clear,” said Moyer, the first panel member to speak publicly about the trial.

The jury began its deliberations with a vote: “It was two not guilty, one sure not and nine guilty,” he said on Friday, adding that his vote was guilty from the start.

“Everyone was pretty much talking, about 45 minutes later…we got it,” he said.

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‘All he did was blow snot’: Juror on whether Murdaugh was crying on stand

With little to no direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the scene, including no eyewitnesses, the prosecution relied heavily on circumstantial evidence, including phone and vehicle tracking systems suggesting Murdaugh’s movements at night. murders.

And prosecutors pointed to another lie that played a key role in the case: a video clip that placed Murdaugh at the murder site shortly before the killings, despite his repeated claims throughout the investigation that which he was not there.

The video, recorded by Paul near the family’s kennels shortly before prosecutors say they were killed, captured the voice of Alex Murdaugh in the background, nearly a dozen friends and family. family members testified.

Murdaugh later testified that the voice was his – and that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts because he had become paranoid, which he attributed to his addiction to opioid painkillers.

Moyer, the juror, was surprised when Murdaugh acknowledged that the voice heard in the video moments before the killings was his, he said.

It was this fact that convinced Moyer that Murdaugh was guilty, the juror said.

Moyer said the defense’s argument that Murdaugh didn’t have enough time to commit the crimes and clean up was unconvincing.

Murdaugh was “a good liar”, said Moyer, “but not good enough”.

“I didn’t see any real remorse or compassion or anything,” he added, noting when Murdaugh spoke, “He didn’t cry. Everything he did , it’s blowing snot.

Alex Murdaugh, center, is handcuffed in the courtroom after the guilty verdict was read aloud at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina on Thursday.

In the end, “it was the victim, Paul Murdaugh, who solved his own murder,” Palm Beach County District Attorney Dave Aronberg told CNN Thursday night of the trial.

In a separate case that has yet to go to trial, Murdaugh faces 99 charges stemming from a series of alleged financial crimes, including defrauding his clients, a former law firm and the government of millions of people.

Murdaugh’s former law firm – which renamed itself Parker Law Group in light of his actions – called Thursday’s verdict a step towards justice. Several members of the lawyer group testified during the murder trial.

“Alex Murdaugh’s actions shock us all. Tonight’s verdict, which came after a thorough and fair trial, brings justice and an end to this horrific affair,” the firm said on Facebook. “Maggie and Paul passed away tragically and for reasons we may never fully understand. They were very much loved and we will forever mourn their loss.


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