The disgraced lawyer Alex Murdaugh, whose dynastic family enjoyed considerable legal clout for many years in some areas of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Friday for the murders of his wife and son.
Before giving Murdaugh two consecutive life sentences, Judge Clifton Newman reminded him of his stunning fall from grace and said that in order to ensure a fair trial, he had to have a portrait of Murdaugh’s grandfather taken out of the courtroom. However, the judge chided the former attorney for his “not credible, not believable” defense, which included Murdaugh’s testimony.
You can persuade yourself of it, but it is obvious that you are unable to persuade others, according to Newman.
On June 7, 2021, Murdaugh’s son Paul and wife Maggie were discovered shot to death on their Islandton property. Alex Murdaugh, who testified last week in his own defense, insisted he didn’t kill them and that he returned from a quick visit to his sick mother that evening and discovered the bodies. When Murdaugh’s web of deceit would come to an end, Newman pressed the point on Friday.
“I am aware that you must see Paul and Maggie at odd hours of the night when you are trying to fall asleep. The judge once said to Alex Murdaugh in the Colleton County courtroom, “I’m sure they come and visit you. Murdaugh said, “Every night.
Within ten days, according to his defense attorneys, they will appeal the verdict.
Asserting that Murdaugh’s credibility was called into question due to his alleged financial wrongdoings, defense attorney Dick Harpootlian defended the choice to allow Murdaugh to testify.
“Once they got that character information — ‘he’s a thief, he’s a liar,’ — then this jury had to think he’s a despicable human being, and not to be believed,” Harpootlian said to reporters after the verdict was announced. He continued that Murdaugh had always wanted to speak out.
According to Harpootlian, his client was “not happy” with the verdict but “expected it,” he told CNN on Friday. According to the attorney, it was “inexplicable that he would execute his son and his wife in that manner.” In handcuffs and a brown jumpsuit, Murdaugh exited the courtroom before being turned over to the South Carolina Department of Corrections.
According to a department news release, processing of Murdaugh began Friday at a reception and evaluation facility in Columbia. According to department spokesperson Chrysti Shain, that included shaving his head as per standard operating procedures for the department.
Medical exams, mental health evaluations, and other evaluations will be part of his processing over the course of the following month and a half, the department said. These evaluations will help determine which maximum-security facility he will be sent to. Missing are victim impact statements
There were no victim impact statements on Friday, contrary to custom, when sentencing hearings were held. Instead, the judge’s criticism of Murdaugh’s defense as “an assault on the integrity of the judicial system” made Newman’s direct exchanges with him stand out during the hearing.
Newman said to Murdaugh, “I have no reservations whatsoever about the state’s decision to forgo the death penalty.
“But as I sit here in this courtroom and consider the numerous portraits of judges and other court officials around me and consider the fact that over the past century your family, including you, have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom and many have received a death penalty probably for lesser conduct,” the judge said.
Remember the look you had on the witness stand, the judge told Murdaugh.
Murdaugh recited a phrase from his testimony, “A tangled web we weave.
Was that what you meant to say?
That meant I kept lying after I had already lied.
The next question is: When will it all be over? said Newman. “The jury already decided that you kept lying throughout your testimony, so this is over for them,” the judge said.
The judge took note of Murdaugh’s long-standing dependence on painkillers.
It “might not have been you,” Newman said to Murdaugh. Perhaps it was the monster you become after taking 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 opiate pills. You might change into someone else. I’ve witnessed that previously. In under three hours, the jury reached a verdict.
Jurors took less than three hours on Thursday to find Murdaugh guilty of two counts of murder in the June 2021 killings as well as two counts of possessing a weapon while committing a violent crime, after more than a month of deliberation and the testimony of numerous witnesses.
“Justice was done today,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said in a Thursday night news conference. “It makes no difference who your family is. It makes no difference how much money you actually have or how much people think you have. How well-known you are doesn’t matter.
In South Carolina, justice will be served if you do wrong, break the law, or murder.
Murdaugh, a former personal injury lawyer, gained national recognition for the case, which included Netflix and HBO Max documentaries. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all prosecutors for a region of southern South Carolina from 1920 to 2006.
Murdaugh’s motive for the killings, according to the prosecution, was to divert attention from and postpone inquiries into his mounting financial issues. They focused on his track record of dishonesty, claiming he stole millions of dollars from his former clients and law firm and lied to hide it. Murdaugh admitted to both theft and lying in court.
After the verdict, the defense requested a mistrial, but Newman rejected the request, stating that the jury had enough time to consider the evidence and that it was “overwhelming” in favor of the defendant’s guilt. The defense also criticized the detectives working the case, saying they had “failed miserably” and even made up evidence.
“The evidence was conclusive,” jury verdict
Juror Craig Moyer told ABC News that the jury decided unanimously that Murdaugh was guilty in less than an hour.
“The evidence was clear,” said Moyer, the first on the panel to speak publicly about the trial.
According to him on Friday, the jury’s initial verdict was “two not guilty, one not sure, and nine guilty,” adding that his vote was guilty from the start.
About 45 minutes later, “we figured it out,” he said, adding that everyone was essentially talking. The prosecution mainly relied on circumstantial evidence, such as phone and vehicle tracking systems, to show Murdaugh’s movements the night of the killings because there was little to no direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the scene and no eyewitnesses.
Prosecutors also cited another deception that was crucial to their case: a video clip that showed Murdaugh at the crime scene just before the killings, despite his repeated claims to the contrary throughout the investigation.
Nearly a dozen friends and family members testified that Paul’s video, which was taken nearby the Murdaugh family’s dog kennels just before the time when the prosecution claims they were killed, showed Alex Murdaugh’s voice in the background.
Then, Murdaugh testified that the voice was his own and that he had told investigators he was somewhere else because he had become paranoid due to his opioid painkiller addiction.
The juror Moyer, he claimed, was taken aback when Murdaugh acknowledged that the voice heard just before the murders on the video was actually his own.
This fact, the juror claimed, persuaded Moyer that Murdaugh was guilty.
Moyer claimed that the defense’s claim that Murdaugh lacked the time to commit the crimes and clean up was unpersuasive.
Murdaugh was “a good liar,” but not good enough, according to Moyer.
When Murdaugh took the stand, he didn’t cry, and he continued, “I didn’t see any true remorse or compassion or anything. He only blew snot, that’s all. The victim, Paul Murdaugh, ultimately “solved his own murder,” according to Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Florida’s Palm Beach County, who spoke to CNN on Thursday night about the trial.
Murdaugh is accused of defrauding his clients, his former law firm, and the government of millions of dollars in a separate case that has not yet gone to trial. He is charged with 99 counts in this case.
The verdict on Thursday was hailed as a step toward justice by Murdaugh’s former law firm, which changed its name to Parker Law Group in response to his actions. Several attorneys from the group gave testimony at the murder trial.
“Alex Murdaugh’s actions shocked all of us. Tonight’s verdict, which was delivered following a thorough and fair trial, provides justice and some measure of closure in this terrible matter, the firm said on Facebook. “Maggie and Paul died tragically, and we may never fully understand why. They were dearly loved, and their loss will never be forgotten.