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Alex Murdaugh is found guilty on all counts for the murder of his wife and son at the Colleton County Courthouse yesterday. Joshua Boucher
South Carolina

Disgraced US lawyer Alex Murdaugh sentenced to life without parole for killing wife and son

Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of killing his 22-year-old son, Paul, with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, with a rifle on 7 June 2021.

LAST UPDATE | 3 Mar 2023

A JUDGE HAS sentenced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh to life without parole after he was convicted of murdering his wife and son.

The Colleton County jury deliberated for less than three hours yesterday before finding Murdaugh guilty of shooting dead his 22-year-old son, Paul, with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, with a rifle on 7 June 2021.

Murdaugh will be taken to a state prison where he will be held in the highest security.

The lawyer maintained his innocence when addressing the judge before sentencing.

“I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paul,” he said.

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.

“The depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes are stunning. The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he is, including here, sitting right over there in this witness stand – your honour, a man like that, a man like this man, should never be allowed to be among free, law-abiding citizens,” Waters said.

He learned his fate in the same courtroom on the circuit that 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.

alex-murdaugh-murder-trial Alex Murdaugh listens to prosecutor Creighton Waters make closing arguments in his trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse. Joshua Boucher Joshua Boucher

Through more than 75 witnesses and nearly 800 pieces of evidence, jurors heard about betrayed friends and clients, Murdaugh’s failed attempt to stage his own death in an insurance fraud scheme, a fatal boat crash in which his son was implicated, the housekeeper who died in a fall in the Murdaugh home and the grisly scene of the killings.

The lawyer admitted stealing millions of dollars from the family firm and clients, saying he needed the money to fund his drug habit.

Before he was charged with murder, Murdaugh was in jail awaiting trial on about 100 other charges ranging from insurance fraud to tax evasion.

The Murdaughs dominated the legal scene in neighbouring Hampton County for a century. Another brother remains in the large law firm the family founded a century ago.

Murdaugh’s surviving son Buster testified for the defence and was behind him in the courtroom for every day of the trial.

Juror Craig Moyer told ABC News that when deliberations began, the jury immediately took a poll that came back with nine guilty votes. It did not 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 mobile phone for a year — video shot minutes before the killings at the same kennels near where the bodies would be found.

usa-news-january-27-2023 Buster Murdaugh, son of Alex Murdaugh, listens to the jury charges during his father’s double murder trial at the Colleton County Courthouse. Joshua Boucher Joshua Boucher

The voices of all three Murdaughs can be heard on the video, though Alex Murdaugh had insisted for 20 months that he had not been at the kennels that night.

When he gave evidence in his own defence, 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 did not 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 mobile phones forever.

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