Alex Murdaugh faces trial in 2021 for murder of wife and son
As his life unraveled over the past two years, the South Carolina attorney fell out of favor Alex Murdaugh did not fight against giving up his license to practice law and said he made many mistakes that involved a lack of client money and financial chaos that led to it 100 criminal charges.
But he has been adamant about it from the moment he found the bodies from his wife and youngest son, both of whom shot multiple times at the family property in June 2021, that he was not the killer. Starting Monday, up to 12 jurors will have to decide whether to approve.
Lawyers anticipate jury selection will take several days before testimony begins. It took 13 months for state agents to investigate Impeach Murdaugh with two counts of murder, and a judge has set aside three weeks for the trial. Murdaugh insisted on trial as soon as possible.
Prosecutors don’t look for them death penalty, but said they will ask for life without parole if Murdaugh is convicted of murder. The minimum sentence is 30 years.
Here’s an overview of the trial and the surrounding scenery as hundreds of attorneys and their paralegals, reporters and true crime enthusiasts are expected to swell Colleton County’s population of 38,000 in the rural southern part of the state.
THE KILLS AND EVIDENCE
Murdaugh, 54, told police He found Maggie, 52, and her son Paul, 22, dead outside their Colleton County home on June 7, 2021. He said he was gone for an hour to visit his sick father and mother.
Authorities released little information about the murders except that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh with a shotgun.
Prosecutors have presented no direct evidence linking Murdaugh to the deaths. So far they have not submitted a confession or testimony about the killings to the court. On the eve of the trial, there is no evidence that either gun was found.
There is video from Paul Murdaugh’s phone with a time stamp just before the murders. The three talk with no sign of anger. Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers said he never denied being inside his home.
There is DNA from the victims on Alex Murdaugh’s shirt, but his defense said it was from looking for signs of life when he found their bodies.
defense and prosecution are fighting on whether an expert can testify that the blood on Murdaugh’s shirt was splattered on it when his son was shot. Defense attorneys said the expert testing the shirt lied and destroyed it before the defense could conduct its own tests.
Prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on evidence of Murdaugh’s financial woes, which they say killed him to buy time as he covered up his theft of settlement funds from clients.
Prosecutors said the murders showed sympathy to Murdaugh and, more importantly, allowed him to hide his thefts and other crimes.
Murdaugh’s lawyers have said it’s absurd to say Murdaugh thought the violent deaths of his wife and son would lessen control of his finances.
The murder charges are just two of the rounds 100 different charges Murdaugh faces. He is also on trial for two counts of gun possession during a violent crime.
A broad spectrum of dozens of state indictments still hovers over his head. This includes stealing millions of dollars from customers and diverting a wrongful death for the longtime maid of the family from her family to herself, runs a drug and money laundering ringTax evasion and fraud from what the police said was an attempt to have someone killed so that his surviving son could get a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh is also facing a spate of civil lawsuits from former clients and over a 2019 boating accident that killed a teenager. Police say Paul Murdaugh drove the boat while heavily intoxicated and he prosecuted when the teenager died. The teen’s family were aggressively trying to obtain information about the Murdaugh family’s finances at the time of the 2021 murders.
The Murdaugh name is well known in legal circles in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Alex Murdaugh worked for the family law firm, which operated in a tiny neighboring town Hampton County for a century, winning a string of multimillion-dollar settlements for workplace fatalities and injuries.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the elected prosecutors in Colleton, Hampton and three other counties for 87 years.
Typically, a portrait of Murdaugh’s father hangs in the Colleton County Courthouse. Judge Clifton Newman ruled that it should be removed for his son’s trial.
SMALL TOWN, BIG TEST
Murdaugh’s demise has attracted media from around the world and dozens of true crime podcasts and other coverage. It’s probably the most sensational trial in South Carolina since Suzanne Schmidt was found guilty of murdering her children and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 tiny Union County.
The Murdaugh trial takes place in the historic Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, where the large, old south courtroom seats nearly 250 people, or about 5% of Walterboro’s 5,500 residents.
Walterboro calls itself “The Front Porch of the Lowcountry” as the gateway to popular South Carolina beaches. It’s off busy Interstate 95, with a number of fast-food restaurants and a few chain hotels lining both freeway exits.
The city last month asked food trucks to park nearby to help a handful of downtown restaurants handle the lunchtime crowds. On a county website for reporters on the case, nine residents offered their homes or businesses to media outlets to use as a base for reporting the trial.
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2023/01/23/alex-murdaugh-goes-on-trial-in-2021-killings-of-wife-son/ Alex Murdaugh faces trial in 2021 for murder of wife and son