Jury convicts Murdaugh in double murder
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC) - After 28 days in court, former Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife and son at the family’s Colleton County property in 2021.
Murdaugh, 54, was also found guilty of two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
The jury deliberated for just under three hours before reaching the unanimous verdict Thursday night.
“I will make no comment now as to the extent of the overwhelming nature of the evidence,” Judge Clifton Newman told the jury after the announcement of the verdict. “But certainly the verdict you reach is supported by the evidence. The circumstantial evidence, direct evidence and all of the evidence pointed to one conclusion. That is the conclusion that you all reached.”
BREAKING: a unanimous decision by the jury that Alex Murdaugh is guilty of killing his wife and son @Live5News pic.twitter.com/NBeoFm6tUq— Blair Sabol-Live 5 News (@BlairSabolTV) March 3, 2023
Prosecutors used GPS data and recovered cell phone videos to place Murdaugh at the scene of the murders. Without either murder weapon, they relied on that data to prove Murdaugh lied to law enforcement about his whereabouts that night from the very beginning.
Murdaugh himself took the stand in his own defense with a testimony that lasted the majority of two full days. During his testimony, he admitted to lying about not being at the scene on the night of June 7, 2021, insisting he did not murder Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
In closing arguments, the defense conceded that Murdaugh lied to law enforcement but said law enforcement had botched the investigation from the very beginning leading to Murdaugh being the only suspect.
“Alex Murdaugh tried one last con to prevent the accountability he has never had to face in his life, but the jury saw through that and properly found he murdered his wife and son in cold blood,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
Attorney Jim Griffin went as far as suggesting investigators lied or misrepresented evidence.
“Today’s verdict proves your position and power in life do not matter: no one is above the law, and that includes Alex Murdaugh,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said. “It’s been a long six weeks, but Maggie and Paul Murdaugh deserved justice, and they certainly did not deserve to brutally die at the hands of someone who was supposed to love and protect them. Alex Murdaugh’s house of cards, built on the foundation of lies, manipulation, and theft, came crashing down.”
Investigators think Murdaugh had no more than about 17 minutes from the time his wife and son stopped using their cellphones to when he left the property to visit his ailing mother.
“He had 17 minutes. He would have to be a magician to make all that evidence disappear,” Griffin said during closing arguments.
Prosecutors argued that Murdaugh killed his wife and son out of fear that his numerous financial misdeeds would be uncovered and his and his family’s reputation would be ruined.
Prosecutors told jurors that Murdaugh had the motive, means and opportunity to commit the crimes and referenced lies he told to law enforcement as early as the night of the murders showing the jury clips from the first interview conducted by investigator David Owen.
The prosecution held a news conference after the verdict while the defense quickly exited from the courthouse.
@USAO_SC Alan Wilson & VERY large prosecution team has walked out of the Colleton County courthouse to cheers. @Live5News pic.twitter.com/ik4DMZA8o1— Blair Sabol-Live 5 News (@BlairSabolTV) March 3, 2023
The defense will hold a news conference after Murdaugh’s sentencing, according to defense spokesperson Amanda Loveday.
The sentencing is scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m.
Murdaugh is facing 30 years in prison to life without the possibility for parole.
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