As his life disintegrated over the past two years, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh didn’t fight handing up his legal licence and claimed he made lots of blunders connected to missing client money and a financial catastrophe that led to 100 felony charges.
But ever since he discovered the bodies of his wife and youngest son, both shot multiple times at the family estate in June 2021, he has insisted he is not the killer. From now until Monday, 12 jurors will deliberate on whether or not they agree. Lawyers expect jury selection will continue several days before testimony begins.
Murdaugh has been charged with two counts of murder after a lengthy investigation by state agents; the judge has scheduled three weeks for the trial. Murdaugh urged on the trial as soon as feasible. If found guilty of murder, prosecutors have announced they will not seek the death penalty but will instead seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Murdaugh.
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In this case, 30 years is the bare minimum. While the population of Colleton County is only 38,000, hundreds of lawyers and their support staff, reporters, and true crime fans are expected to boost the county’s population to over 100,000 for the duration of the trial.
The killings and the evidence
Murdaugh, 54, told investigators that on June 7, 2021, he and his 52-year-old wife Maggie found their 22-year-old son Paul dead in the driveway of their house in Colleton County. He explained that he had left for an hour to tend to his sick parents.
The only details revealed by authorities are that Maggie Murdaugh was slain with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh was killed with a shotgun, and that neither of the victims were known to law enforcement. The prosecution has not provided specific evidence connecting Murdaugh to the murders.
So far they have filed with the court no confession or witness testimony about the killings. On the day before the trial, neither firearm has been located. A video recorded on Paul Murdaugh’s phone just before the murders has been discovered. There is no sign of hostility among the three people discussing. Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh have stated that their client has never denied being in the house.
Alex Murdaugh’s defence claims that the presence of victim DNA on his shirt is the result of his searching for vital signs after discovering their dead. Murdaugh’s shirt was stained with blood after his kid was shot, and the prosecution and defence are currently debating whether to admit expert testimony to that effect.
Attorneys for the defence claimed the expert who examined the shirt was lying and destroyed the garment before further examination. Murdaugh’s financial woes, the prosecution contends, motivated him to steal settlement money from clients and kill to mask his tracks.
The killings, according to the prosecution, permitted Murdaugh to gain sympathy and, more crucially, to cover up his robberies and other criminal activities. Murdaugh’s lawyers have stated it is ridiculous to suggest their client believed the deaths of his wife and children would reduce the investigation into his money.
Murdaugh is accused of a wide variety of crimes, including murder, but only two of them among about a hundred. He is also being tried on two charges of weapon possession during a felony. He still has dozens of state charges looming over his head. Police say he tried to have someone kill him so his son could receive a $10 million life insurance policy, among other crimes.
He also stole millions of dollars from clients and diverted a wrongful death payout for the family’s longtime housekeeper away from her family and into his own pocket. Multiple former clients are suing Murdaugh, and a boating accident in 2019 that killed a teenager has prompted additional lawsuits.
Paul Murdaugh was facing criminal charges after the death of a teenager, according to the police. In the wake of the 2021 murders, the teen’s relatives pursued the Murdaughs vigorously, seeking financial information.
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The name Murdaugh is widely recognised among South Carolina’s judges and legal professionals. Alex Murdaugh worked for a law practise run by his family that had been established in the much smaller county next door for over a century, and the firm had won several multimillion-dollar settlements for tragic accidents and occupational injuries.
For a combined 87 years, three generations of the Murdaugh family served as elected prosecutors in the South Carolina counties of Colleton, Hampton, and three others. Regular visitors to the Colleton County Courthouse may notice a portrait of Murdaugh’s father. For his son’s trial, Judge Clifton Newman ruled that it should be taken down.
Multiple news outlets and true crime podcasts have covered Murdaugh’s fall from grace. It’s the most high-profile case in the Palmetto State since 1995 when Susan Smith was found guilty of murdering her children in Union County and given a life sentence.