Criminal Justice

Once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh gets life in prison for murders of wife and son

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AP Alex Murdaugh March 2023

Disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced Friday to life in prison after a conviction in a double-murder trial during his sentencing at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina. He was found guilty on all counts. Photo by Andrew J. Whitaker/The Post and Courier via the Associated Press.

Disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison Friday, a day after jurors found him guilty of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son Paul at the family’s South Carolina hunting property in June 2021.

Judge Clifton Newman of Walterboro, South Carolina, sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole after prosecutors declined to pursue the death penalty, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN.

Before the sentencing, Murdaugh again maintained his innocence. “I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son, Paul-Paul,” he said Friday.

Newman told Murdaugh that he would have to deal with his actions, according to the Washington Post.

“In your own soul, you have to deal with that, and I know you have to see Paul and Maggie in the nighttime as you attempt to go to sleep,” Newman said. “I’m sure they come and visit you.”

Jurors had convicted Murdaugh on Thursday after about three hours of deliberation, according to coverage by the State.

Murdaugh still faces trial in cases alleging financial misconduct that includes stealing from clients and his former law firm, which was called Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick. The firm was founded by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather in 1910. It has since been renamed the Parker Law Group.

The New York Times has described Murdaugh as part of a “legal dynasty.” Murdaugh’s great-grandfather was the first elected chief prosecutor for South Carolina’s 14th Judicial Circuit, and two more generations of the family had the top prosecution job through 2006.

Newman had allowed prosecutors to introduce evidence of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes to rebut defense evidence of character. Prosecutors focused on the financial misdeeds and Murdaugh’s “new story” during cross-examination.

Murdaugh had at first told police that he wasn’t at the dog kennels where the murders happened. Prosecutors rebutted that claim with a cellphone video taken by Paul Murdaugh minutes before the murders were thought to have taken place. Alex Murdaugh can be heard talking on the video.

Murdaugh had testified that he lied about not being at the kennels because he feared that he was a suspect. Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters questioned that explanation in his cross-examination.

“So you, like you’ve done so many times over the course of your life, had to back up and make a new story that kind of fits with the facts that can’t be denied. Isn’t that true, sir?” Waters asked.

See also: “Caretaker’s testimony hurts alibi of once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh, who’s charged with murdering wife and son” “Cellphone video places Murdaugh at murder scene, says prosecutor in once-prominent lawyer’s trial” “Law firm staffers were first to suspect once-prominent lawyer Murdaugh was stealing client money, partner testifies”

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