Alex Murdaugh Sentenced to Life in Prison for Murder of Wife and Son
Disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison Friday, a day after he was found guilty of the murder of his wife and son.
Murdaugh, the scion of South Carolina’s Lowcountry legal dynasty, was convicted of two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Prior to sentencing Friday, Murdaugh twice maintained his innocence, telling the court, “I’m innocent, I would never hurt my wife Maggie, and I would never hurt my son Paw-Paw,” a nickname for his son Paul. The prosecutors, meanwhile, called Alex a “cunning manipulator, a man who placed himself above all others, including his family” before sentencing.
Prosecutors previously announced that they would seek two consecutive life in prison sentences without the possibility of parole against Murdaugh, sparring him the death penalty. Judge Clifton Newman ultimately agreed, noting that while Murdaugh’s actions warranted (and probably deserved) the death penalty, he sentenced Murdaugh to prison “for the rest of your natural life,” handing down the two consecutive life in prison sentences.
The murder trial of Murdaugh began in January and involved more than a dozen witnesses for the defense and 61 for the prosecution. Murdaugh’s former law firm colleagues and family members, including his younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh, and surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, have testified before the 12-person jury.
Throughout the trial, the prosecution argued that Murdaugh murdered his wife and son Paul on June 7, 2021, at the family’s hunting estate in an attempt to evade accountability for a string of alleged financial crimes. “Those pressures mount,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said during closing arguments, “and that person becomes a family annihilator.”
Despite the Murdaugh family’s centuries-old legal hold over the Lowcountry, the jury needed less than three hours to convict Alex on the four charges. The judge quickly denied the defense’s appeal soon after the verdict.
The former attorney also admitted to hiring a hitman to kill him in a botched insurance fraud attempt and was indicted of drug trafficking and money-laundering charges. In total, Murdaugh still faces about a dozen lawsuits and more than 100 criminal charges for alleged financial and drug violations; as noted during sentencing, Judge Newman from Murdaugh’s murder trial will also preside over those pending charges.
After sentencing, Murdaugh’s lawyers reiterated that they would appeal the case, and admitted that Murdaugh, a now-former lawyer, sensed the guilty verdict was inevitable. “I think [Murdaugh] expected it… After the financial crimes, we were hoping for mistrial, you know, a hung jury. That was the best we could do,” defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian told CNN. “I think [Murdaugh] was, he was realistic about it, he’s obviously not happy with it, but he believes as we do, he being a lawyer, that we’ve got a solid shot on appeal.”
The lawyers added they were “surprised that deliberations didn’t take longer than they did. And it was a little disturbing.”
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