Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina lawyer, has been sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and son on their hunting estate in a case whose twists and turns drew global attention.
Judge Clifton Newman on Friday sentenced Murdaugh, scion of an elite family of judges and attorneys, to consecutive life terms for the June 7, 2021 murders of his son Paul and his wife Maggie.
Dismissing the 54-year-old Murdaugh’s claims of innocence as “not credible,” the judge told the disgraced attorney he must “see Paul and Maggie during the night times when you’re attempting to go to sleep.”
“I’m sure they come and visit you,” the judge said.
A jury in Walterboro, South Carolina, found Murdaugh guilty on Thursday after less than three hours of deliberations.
The complex case gripped the nation, and Netflix and HBO scored hits with fictionalized documentaries rushed out during the trial.
According to the prosecution, Murdaugh shot his wife and son after realizing his years of stealing millions of dollars from his law firm and from clients to feed his hidden opioid addiction was about to go public.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters urged the judge at the sentencing to impose the maximum of life terms in prison, saying the “depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes, are stunning.”
Waters described Murdaugh as a “cunning manipulator, a man who placed himself above all others, including his family.
“He violated the trust of so many, including his friends, his family, his partners, his profession, and most of all, Maggie and Paul,” he said.
Murdaugh’s 22-year-old Paul was killed with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife Maggie with an assault rifle the family used for hunting wild pigs on their sprawling property.
Murdaugh, who wore a tan jumpsuit during the sentencing and handcuffs and leg shackles, briefly addressed the court.
“I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife Maggie. And I would never hurt my son Paw Paw,” he said, using his son’s nickname.
While evidence put Murdaugh at the scene shortly before the murders, the guns were never found, and there was no bloodstained clothing or other direct evidence that could prove he was the killer.
Key video on victim’s phone
After a six-week trial, the jury determined the evidence was strong enough to convict Murdaugh on two counts of murder and two firearms charges.
Murdaugh testified in his own defence and described discovering the bodies of his wife and son at the dog kennels on their South Carolina property known as Moselle.
Murdaugh admitted he stole and embezzled, and also lied about his drug habit, which his attorneys said cost $50,000 a week. But he said he would never lie about killing his family.