The Commercial Appeal
Murdaugh gets life in prison for murders of his wife, son
WALTERBORO, S.C. – In the culmination of the once-prominent lawyer’s fall from grace, Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday after being convicted of murdering his wife and son.
Judge Clifton Newman asked Murdaugh if he had anything he wanted to say before sentencing him to two consecutive life terms, and the South Carolina attorney maintained his innocence.
“As I tell you again, I respect this court. But I am innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul-paul,” Murdaugh responded.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said none of the victims of the crime – members of Murdaugh’s family and the parents and relatives of his wife – wished to speak on behalf of the prosecution before sentencing.
Prosecutors asked for a life sentence to hold Murdaugh responsible for what they say are decades of lying, stealing and using his family’s considerable clout in their tiny county to his advantage. Any sentence would have no chance of parole.
As Murdaugh stood before the judge to learn his fate, he was in the same courtroom on the circuit where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years. His grandfather’s portrait hung in the back of the room until the judge ordered it taken down for the trial.
Instead of the dress shirt and sport coat he wore through the six-week trial, the attorney who made millions suing big companies on behalf of people injured in wrecks arrived at court in a jail jumpsuit the day after he was convicted of two counts of murder.
The Colleton County jury deliberated for less than three hours before finding Murdaugh guilty of killing his 22year-old son, Paul, with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, with a rifle on June 7, 2021.
Juror Craig Moyer told ABC News that when deliberations began, the jury immediately took a poll that came back with nine guilty votes. It didn’t take long to convince the other three.
The juror agreed with prosecutors that the key piece of evidence was a video locked on his son’s cellphone for a year – video shot minutes before the killings at the same kennels near where the bodies would be found.
The voices of all three Murdaughs can be heard on the video, though Alex Murdaugh had insisted for 20 months that he hadn’t been at the kennels that night.
When he took the stand in his own defense, the first thing he did was admit he had lied to investigators about being at the kennels, saying he was paranoid of law enforcement because he was addicted to opioids and had pills in his pocket the night of the killings.
“A good liar. But not good enough,” Moyer said.
Prosecutors didn’t have the weapons used to kill the Murdaughs or other direct evidence like confessions or blood spatter. But they had a mountain of circumstantial evidence, including the video putting Murdaugh at the scene of the killings five minutes before his wife and son stopped using their cellphones forever.