Alex Murdaugh, the disgraced South Carolina attorney convicted of killing his wife and son, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on Friday.
Murdaugh was found guilty Thursday of murdering his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul, in an attempt to distract from his numerous financial crimes, for which he still faces prosecution. The decision came after just a few hours of deliberation and a six-week trial where more than 70 witnesses testified.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters explained to Judge Clifton Newman on Friday that the evidence in the trial “shows [Murdaugh] to be a cunning manipulator, a man who placed himself above all others, including his family, a man who violated the trust of so many – including his friends, his family, his partners, his profession, but most of all Maggie and Paul.”
Waters requested the consecutive life sentences, saying his family, “like everyone else, was unaware of who he really was.”
Murdaugh’s attorneys declined to comment during the hearing, but Murdaugh himself once again proclaimed his innocence.
“I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son Paul,” Murdaugh said, according to Avery Wilks, chief investigative reporter for the Post and Courier.
Judge Newman excoriated Murdaugh for his repeated lies, including Murdaugh’s insistence that he was never at the dog kennels – where Maggie and Paul were murdered – on the day of the crime. Cell phone evidence proved that was a lie, and Murdaugh admitted to lying while testifying in his own defense during the trial.
Murdaugh’s 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.
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“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.”
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.