The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding Murdaugh guilty of double murder on Thursday.
South Carolina • Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was convicted Thursday of murder in the shooting death of his wife and son in a case that chronicled the dissolution of a powerful Southern family with tales of privilege, greed and addiction.
The jury deliberated less than three hours before finding Murdaugh guilty of double murder at the end of a six-week trial that disgraced the fall of the once-prominent attorney.
Murdaugh, 54, faces 30 years to life without parole if convicted, which in South Carolina usually comes immediately after the verdict but can be delayed if a judge requests it.
Through more than 75 witnesses and nearly 800 pieces of evidence, jurors heard from betrayed friends and clients, Murdaugh’s failed attempt to stage his own death in an insurance scam, a fatal boating accident involving his son, the housekeeper, who died in a fall House of the Murdaughs, the grisly scene of the murders and Bubba the chicken-snatching dog.
In the end, Murdaugh’s fate seemed sealed by cellphone video of his son, whom he dubbed “Little Detective” for his talent for finding bottles of painkillers in his father’s belongings after the lawyer swore off the pills.
The testimony culminated in Murdaugh’s appearance on the witness stand, when he admitted stealing millions from customers and lying to investigators about being in the kennels where the shootings took place, but adamantly maintained his innocence in the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
“I didn’t kill Maggie and I didn’t kill Paul. I would never hurt Maggie and I would never hurt Paul – under any circumstances,” Murdaugh said.
Murdaugh’s 52-year-old wife was shot four or five times with a rifle and her 22-year-old son twice with a shotgun on June 7, 2021 in the kennels near her rural home in Colleton County.
Prosecutors did not have the weapons used to kill the Murdaughs, nor other direct evidence such as confessions or blood spatter. But they had a mountain of circumstantial evidence, led by a video stored on Paul Murdaugh’s cellphone for more than a year – a video taken minutes before the murders, which witnesses testified and captured the voices of all three Murdaughs.
Alex Murdaugh, 54, had repeatedly told police after the killings that he was not in the kennel and was instead taking a nap before going to visit his ailing mother that night. Murdaugh called 911 and said he discovered the bodies upon returning home.
But in his statement, Murdaugh admitted to joining Maggie and Paul at the kennels, where he said he took a chicken from a rowdy yellow Lab named Bubba – whose name Murdaugh can be heard on the video – before he was about to returned to the house of the deadly shooting.
Murdaugh lied that he was in the kennel for 20 months before making a statement on day 23 of his trial. He blamed his decades-long addiction to opioids for making him paranoid and creating a distrust of the police. He said once he walked that path, he felt trapped in a lie.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave. I lied once – I told my family – I had to keep lying,” he testified.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters questioned Murdaugh about what he repeatedly called the attorney’s “new history” of what happened in the kennels, taking him moment-by-moment through the timeline and attacking his “fuzzy” memory of certain details, such as his last Words to his wife and son.
A state agent also testified that marks on spent cartridges found around Maggie Murdaugh’s body matched marks on fired cartridges at a shooting range elsewhere on the property, although the defense said that type of match was an inaccurate science.
Murdaugh comes from a family that dominated the local legal scene for decades. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were the area’s elected prosecutors for more than 80 years, and his family law firm grew to include dozens of attorneys suing railroads, corporations, and other large corporations.
The now-disfellowshipped attorney admitted to stealing millions of dollars from the family firm and clients, saying he needed the money to fund his drug habit. Before being charged with murder, Murdaugh sat in jail awaiting trial on about 100 other charges ranging from insurance fraud to tax evasion.
Prosecutors told jurors that Murdaugh feared all his wrongdoings would soon be exposed, so he killed his wife and son to gain compassion and buy time to cover his tracks.
Murdaugh’s attorneys will almost certainly appeal the conviction, which is based on the judge allowing evidence into the financial crimes they believe were unrelated to the murders and which prosecutors used to tarnish Murdaugh’s reputation.
https://www.sltrib.com/news/nation-world/2023/03/02/alex-murdaugh-convicted-murder/ Alex Murdaugh convicted of murder in shootings of wife and son