Alex Murdaugh was heir to a legal dynasty
Murdaugh was indicted last July on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon
He now faces 30 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole
Eko Hot Blog reports that a jury in South Carolina has found a former lawyer guilty of murdering his wife and son after a high-profile trial that gripped America.
Alex Murdaugh took the stand in his own defence to unsuccessfully plead with the jury to find him not guilty.
His televised trial heard claims of corruption, opioid abuse, and a failed hitman suicide plot.
Here’s what to know about the case.
What did Alex Murdaugh do?
A veteran personal injury attorney, Alex Murdaugh, 54, was heir to a legal dynasty that has held sway over South Carolina’s Lowcountry region for more than a century.
On 7 June 2021, he reported finding his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, dead near the dog kennels on the family’s sprawling estate.
No arrests were made for more than a year, but Murdaugh was indicted last July on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon while committing a violent crime.
He insisted he was not involved in the deaths, but state prosecutors argued he shot the pair at close range with a rifle and shotgun.
After less than three hours, a jury found him guilty on all charges.
He now faces 30 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.
“The Murdaugh name is an extremely big name in the area,” said Susan Williams, a local criminal defence attorney not involved in the trial. “This is the biggest case that I’ve ever seen [here] in my lifetime.”
What has the prosecution said?
The convicted murderer is separately facing a wave of financial charges, including allegations he embezzled millions from the family-founded law firm at which he was a partner.
Prosecutors said in court that he murdered his wife and son to distract from his misdeeds and gain sympathy.
They called more than 60 witnesses over four weeks in an effort to poke holes in Murdaugh’s alibi and expose numerous inconsistencies in his version of events.
Investigators never found a murder weapon, but the prosecution built its case using circumstantial evidence including mobile phone data and gunshot residue.
“After an exhaustive investigation, there is only one person who had the motive, who had the means, who had the opportunity to commit these crimes, and also whose guilty conduct after these crimes betrays him,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said in his closing arguments.
Perhaps the most significant piece of evidence was a video taken by Paul at the dog kennels minutes before he died, in which Murdaugh can be heard in the background. For 20 months after the murders, Murdaugh insisted he had not been at the kennels that night, before admitting at trial he had lied.
Murdaugh “lies convincingly and easily and he can do it as a drop of a hat,” Mr Waters said.
What has the defence said?
Attorneys for Murdaugh maintained that their client was a loving husband and father who fell victim to sloppy law enforcement work.
Buster, Murdaugh’s surviving son and the defence’s first witness, testified that his father was “destroyed” and “heartbroken” after the killings.
The defence also argued that it was “not believable” that he had enough time to commit murder, dispose of evidence and drive to where his alibi placed him.
They argued that, with no eyewitnesses, no hard proof and no blood found on his clothing that night, the state’s case was nothing more than “a theory”.
What did Murdaugh say on the stand?
Over two days on the witness stand last week, Murdaugh testified in his own defence – a high-risk move for any defendant.
He acknowledged for the first time he was at the dog kennels that night shortly before his wife and son were killed.
He conceded he had lied several times to investigators, citing a long-standing addiction to prescription pain-killers that made him “paranoid”.
And he admitted to years of theft from clients and people he “loved and cared about” so that he could fund his abuse of opiates.
But, he said, none of it meant he was guilty. Tearfully referring to the victims as “Mags” and “Paw Paw”, he said: “I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them.”
The testimony was Murdaugh’s “Hail Mary”, Mrs Williams said. She said that, as a former prosecutor, he knew juries like to hear from a defendant and knew he had to explain why he said he lied.
What else has happened?
Fascination with the Murdaugh murders is due in part to a series of related incidents that have come to light since the double homicide.
In 2018, the family’s long-time housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died after an apparent accident at their home. Murdaugh encouraged her adult children to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Murdaugh’s insurance company paid out to the tune of $4.3m (£3.5m), but the Satterfields did not receive a dime. Murdaugh later admitted he had kept it all.
Police are now re-examining how Ms Satterfield died. The Murdaugh family claim she tripped over their dogs and fell down the stairs.
The year after, Paul drunkenly crashed a boat in an accident that killed one of his passengers, Mallory Beach. He had been charged and was out on bail at the time of his death. Murdaugh implied on the stand that he had faced death threats since the incident.
Three months after his wife and son died, in September 2021, Murdaugh was injured in a roadside shooting. Authorities later revealed he had staged a botched hit job on himself with the aid of a distant cousin, so that Buster could collect a life insurance policy.
“Oh, what a tangled web we weave,” he said at one point in his testimony.
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