On Thursday, a South Carolina jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife and son. The story of how the patriarch of a legal dynasty in the Deep South was brought down by a scandalous web of lies he told gripped the nation.
In South Carolina’s Lowcountry, also known as “Murdaugh Country”, three generations of the Murdaugh family were elected as prosecutors.
In June 2022, Alex Murdaugh was accused of killing his wife Maggie, and their youngest son Paul.
After a year and a half of guessing, Murdaugh was found guilty of murder Thursday night after a jury deliberated for about three hours. He stood nervously and shook a little bit as he waited for his fate to be decided. As the clerk said that Murdaugh was found guilty on all counts, he blinked his eyes again. His oldest child, Buster, was sitting with his hand over his face and looking off into the distance. He wiped his eyes and nose when his face got red.
“Today’s decision shows that no one is above the law, no matter how important they are in society,” said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson after the verdict.
Law experts were astounded at how quickly the jury reached a verdict. Many people thought that the jury would keep talking about the case until the weekend and that they might even reach a tie.
Miller Shealy, a law professor at the Charleston School of Law, said that the fact that they came to a decision so quickly shows that they had no doubts at all. The jury didn’t think anyone else could have done it.
Shealy and other legal experts think that Murdaugh will appeal the verdict because there were some problems with the trial from a legal point of view. A professor at the Charleston School of Law, Constance Anastopoulo, said that the state showed the jury that the burden of proof was on the defendant by making them show evidence. Anastopoulo says that Murdaugh’s lawyers might use this fact as a selling point in a possible appeal.
If Murdaugh decided to appeal, the South Carolina Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals would look into the case. Dick Harpootlian, who is one of Murdaugh’s lawyers, would not say anything about what his client planned to do in the future.
“Harpootlian told The Washington Post over the phone on Thursday night, “We’ll have a statement and a response after the sentencing in the morning.” “We can’t talk until that happens.”
Even though there was a lot of interest and attention from the media, 54-year-old Murdaugh insisted he was innocent. Before the murders, everyone in South Carolina knew that the Clemmons family was a powerful dynasty that ran the courts in the Lowcountry. Podcasts broke down the shady details of a tragedy that had to do with money and being bad. A lawyer from a well-known family in the Deep South lost his fortune so he could buy pills and pay off his debts.
The prosecution says that after that, he became very desperate. A teenage girl died when Murdaugh’s youngest son, who was drunk, flipped the boat he was on with five other people and killed the girl. Authorities say that patriarch Murdaugh shot and killed his wife and one of his adult sons outside his 1,772-acre rural Islandton hunting estate to cover up his wrongdoings after their deaths led to lawsuits and investigations that threatened to unravel his web of lies.
In his closing statement, the state’s top prosecutor, Creighton Waters, said of Murdaugh that he was “the kind of person for whom humiliation is an incredible provocation.”
Murdaugh might go to jail for the rest of his life.
On June 7, 2021, Maggie Murdaugh, who was 52, and her son Paul Murdaugh, who was 22, were killed at the estate. At the start of the trial, his lawyers said there was no hard evidence linking him to the shootings, which happened about 50 miles from Charleston. The prosecution says that Murdaugh killed them to get people to feel sorry for him and to hide the fact that he had cheated his law partners and clients out of more than $9 million. Since then, he has “made up an alibi.”
This case seemed to have a lot of strange things going on.
Last year, as detectives were closing in on him, Murdaugh got away from a hit he had planned for himself. He did this so that his son could get the insurance money.
During the trial, some of the most dramatic things that happened included Murdaugh’s first public admission that he had lied about being at the crime scene shortly before the murders, his confession that he was addicted to opiates, and the jury’s visit to the sprawling “Moselle” estate in the Lowcountry.
Since the trial started on January 25, the news has been all over it, attracting people who are interested in the fall of a rich and powerful Southern family. It’s also a true crime story, which has a huge audience that can’t get enough scary stories.
CNN, Court TV, and Dateline are just a few of the media outlets that have shown in-depth reports and live coverage of Murdaugh’s defense. The New Yorker gave 7,000 words to the story of how money, politics, and public opinion all played a role.
The documentaries looked into other mysterious deaths that have been linked to the family, such as that of their housekeeper Gloria Satterfield and her insurance claim, and that of an out gay young man named Stephen Smith, whose mysterious death in 2015 led to rumors that it was linked to the Murdaughs because Smith had been in a relationship with Buster Murdaugh. The killings of Alex Murdaugh’s wife and child, on the other hand, turned the story into national news. People who were interested in the Murdaugh scandal soon said what they thought about it.
After the jury found the ex-lawyer guilty, the housekeeper’s lawyer, Eric S. Bland, told The Post that the disgraced ex-lawyer will drink from the same cup of justice as every other citizen and other convicted killers.
At a press conference after the verdict was read, Wilson also said good things about Waters and said that he was the best person to prosecute this case.
Wilson said, “This is such a great day for the people of South Carolina.”
Experts in the law thought it was a risk for Murdaugh to call the witness in the last days of the trial. The prosecution took this chance to ask him a lot of questions about how he stole money from clients, some of whom were children and one of whom was paralyzed. He admitted that he was guilty but insisted that he had not killed his wife and kids.
Murdaugh said that the family’s money problems lasted for ten years because he made bad decisions when he bought land and became addicted to opiates. He went to an Atlanta treatment centre three times to get help for his addiction.
Murdaugh’s family members have testified for both sides of the case. According to what her friends and family told the media, Maggie Murdaugh was a down-to-earth mother who cared about her children. Paul Murdaugh was a junior at USC at the time.
Alex Murdaugh’s sentencing has been set for Friday morning at 9:30.
After hearing the jury’s verdict, Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman said, “It’s clear that the evidence supports the verdict you came to.” Judge Newman didn’t say anything about how much evidence there was or how strong it was. The facts could only lead to one conclusion, and that’s the one you came to.
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