A South Carolina jury found disbarred attorney Richard “Alex” Murdaugh guilty of murder in the 2021 killings of his wife and son.
The judge sentenced Murdaugh to the maximum life sentence in prison without parole for the fatal shootings of his wife, Margaret, and their younger son, Paul.
The jury reached the verdict after deliberating for nearly three hours Thursday after hearing five weeks of testimony from more than 70 witnesses — including Alex Murdaugh himself, who denied the murders but admitted to lying to investigators and cheating his clients.
He was found guilty on all four counts — two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in the commitment of a violent crime.
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The jury visited the family’s estate, Moselle, on Wednesday to see the crime scene ahead of deliberations. The bodies of Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds near the dog kennels at the family’s estate in June 2021, authorities said.
Alex Murdaugh, 54, who called 911 to report the discovery, was charged with their murders more than a year later. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors claim that Alex Murdaugh, who comes from a legacy of prominent attorneys in the region, killed his wife and son to gain sympathy and distract from his financial wrongdoings.
Meanwhile, the defense has portrayed him as a loving husband and father, and argued that police ignored the possibility that anyone else could have killed them. While testifying, Alex Murdaugh blamed lying to investigators on his addiction to painkillers, which he said caused “paranoid thinking.”
During his nearly four-hour closing argument on Wednesday, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters declared that Alex Murdaugh was the only person “who had the motive, who had the means, who had the opportunity to commit these crimes” and that his “guilty conduct after these crimes betrays him.”
Waters told the jurors that credibility is important and painted Murdaugh as someone good at lying who was used to anticipating how jurors read things.
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“This is an individual who was trained to understand how to put together cases, complex cases. He’s been a prosecutor,” said Waters. “He’s given closing arguments to juries before. So, when you have a defendant like that, be thinking about whether or not this individual is constructing defenses and alibis.”
Murdaugh will later stand trial for more than 100 other criminal charges related to alleged crimes including money laundering, tax evasion, stealing millions from clients, drug trafficking and a botched life insurance scheme.
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