A jury has found Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina attorney on trial for the murder of his wife and son, guilty.
The decision comes after just a few hours of deliberation and a six-week trial where more than 70 witnesses testified. Murdaugh has maintained his innocence, suggesting his son Paul was the main target for the murders due to his involvement in a 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
The guilty verdict followed two distinct closing arguments from the defense and the prosecution. The prosecution argued that Murdaugh was the only person with the means, motive, and opportunity to kill his wife and son, while the defense claimed the sloppy investigation misses potential other suspects.
“This defendant … has fooled everyone, everyone, everyone who thought they were close to him,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters told jurors, according to CNN. “Everyone who thought they knew who he was, he’s fooled them all. He fooled Maggie and Paul, too, and they paid for it with their lives. Don’t let him fool you, too.”
“We believe that we’ve shown conclusively that [South Carolina Law Enforcement Division] failed miserably in investigating this case,” defense attorney Jim Griffin countered, according to CNN. “And had they done a competent job, Alex would have been excluded from that circle [of suspects] a year ago or two years ago.”
Murdaugh spent nearly two days testifying in his own defense at his trial, and immediately admitted to lying for years about his whereabouts on the day his wife and son were murdered.
The prosecution had already argued that Murdaugh lied about not going to the dog kennels on the day his wife and son were murdered. Prosecutor Creighton Waters previously pointed to cell phone evidence taken from Paul’s phone less than five minutes before he was killed. Paul had filmed one of the dogs to send to a friend, and prosecutors allege Murdaugh’s voice can be heard in the background of the recording. Murdaugh has said he wasn’t at the kennels that night. Prosecutors allege that Murdaugh murdered his wife and son around 8:49 p.m., just a few minutes after the video was taken.
On Thursday, when Murdaugh took the stand, his defense attorneys asked him if he had lied to police about his whereabouts on the night his family was murdered, and Murdaugh admitted to lying.
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“I lied about being down there, and I’m so sorry that I did,” Murdaugh said, according to People Magazine.
Murdaugh maintained that he did not murder his wife and son, whom he referred to by nicknames “Mags” and “Paul Paul.” The disgraced South Carolina attorney claimed during his testimony that his alleged drug addiction made him “paranoid,” which caused him to lie.
“As my addiction evolved over time I would get in these situations or circumstances where I would get paranoid,” Murdaugh testified. “I’m sorry I lied.”
Murdaugh also testified that his son Paul was receiving threats over his involvement in a 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach. Paul was indicted on one count of boating under the influence causing death and two counts of causing significant bodily injury.
“Paul got the most vile threats — the stuff that was on social media — you couldn’t believe it,” Murdaugh testified, according to People. “You couldn’t believe it. It was so over the top, truthfully we didn’t think anything about it, it was so crazy. People talking about what he was going to get … We disregarded it. It was so over the top.”
The verdict is not the end of Murdaugh’s troubles, as the murder charge was simply the last in a long and bizarre story regarding the once-prominent South Carolina attorney. After Murdaugh’s wife and son were murdered, police began looking into Murdaugh’s life and discovered numerous disturbing details.
Murdaugh was accused of stealing $8.5 million from people who had hired him as their attorney. He is also alleged to have orchestrated his own murder by hiring a friend to kill him so that his surviving son, Buster, could receive a $10 million life insurance payout. Murdaugh allegedly lied to police about the incident, claiming a stranger shot him on the side of the road. This all took place just days after Murdaugh’s firm discovered he had stolen money from clients.
Further, state police began looking into the hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old in July 2015 as a possible connection to Murdaugh, but no additional details have been released. Authorities also exhumed the body of Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who was said to have died after a fall in 2018. Murdaugh allegedly collected more than $4 million from his home insurer by claiming wrongful death and saying he was working for Satterfield’s family, but the family didn’t receive any of the money, according to prosecutors.
In June 2022, Murdaugh was also indicted for alleged money laundering and creating a “distribution network” for painkillers, the Associated Press reported at the time. Murdaugh allegedly ran the drug ring with the same friend he allegedly hired to kill him.