Alex Murdaugh was sentenced Friday to two consecutive life sentences after a jury found him guilty in the murder of his wife and son.
The disgraced former attorney was determined to be guilty on Thursday on all four charges: two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed in 2021 at the family's former home in Colleton County, South Carolina.
I'm innocent, I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paw Paw," Murdaugh said before the sentencing was read.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said none of the victims of the crime wanted to speak on behalf of the prosecution prior to the sentencing.
It might have been the monster you become when you take 20, 40 60 opioid pills," Judge Clifton Newman said of the crimes. "Maybe you become another person."
Murdaugh's head was bowed as he was led out of the courtroom.
Newman said some autopsy photos were leaked when they were shown as exhibits in court, comparing the incident to the recent lawsuit Kobe Bryant's wife made regarding her husband's death in a helicopter crash and the photos released from it.
The judge also said he's set to preside over the 99 other cases involving Murdaugh's other alleged crimes, mostly financial-related.
Newman denied the defense's motion for a mistrial, saying there "was sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty if the evidence was believed by the jury."
State prosecutors presented a largely circumstantial case that failed to produce a “smoking gun.” Much of the prosecution’s focus instead was on motive, showing how Murdaugh was facing imminent downfall from his life of wealth and prominence due to years of thefts.
Prosecutors also zeroed in on the repeated lies Murdaugh told investigators in the aftermath of the murders as to his whereabouts that night – specifically, whether he was with Maggie and Paul by the family's dog kennels where they were murdered.
Murdaugh initially told investigators he wasn’t at the kennels in the time leading up to Maggie and Paul's deaths, but a video from his late son's cell phone proved Murdaugh was there within five minutes of when investigators believe Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were killed.
When he took the stand, Murdaugh admitted to lying about being at the kennels for 19 months leading up to the trial and said that a number of factors influenced him to be untruthful, including his distrust of SLED and paranoia tied to his alleged opiate addiction.
The defense argued that contrary to what the State presented, they believed that two shooters may have carried out the murders and that Murdaugh trying to avoid facing punishment for his admitted financial crimes was not a plausible motive for maliciously killing his wife and son.
The defense also alleged that had state investigators done a proper job of processing the scene and securing evidence, Alex would have been eliminated as a suspect long before the start of the trial.
Murdaugh has been in custody since October 2021 on charges unrelated to the slayings. In July 2022, a year and a month after the murders of Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh was officially indicted on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
Listen to in-depth audio coverage on the "Unsolved South Carolina: The Murdaughs" podcast here.
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