WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — A South Carolina grand jury has found embattled former attorney Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his wife and son.
Murdaugh was accused of fatally shooting his wife, Maggie, with an AR-style rifle and youngest son, Paul, with a shotgun at their Lowcountry home on June 7, 2021. The state was able to convince the jury Murdaugh was motivated to kill them due to his alleged financial crimes and stealing money from his former law firm.
Judge Clifton Newman said sentencing will begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning. Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without parole for each murder charge. He was also charged with an additional two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
The defense motioned for a mistrial but Judge Newman denied the motion saying the evidence was overwhelming. The trial was one of the longest in the history of South Carolina.
According to the state’s timeline, Maggie and Paul were murdered around 8:50 p.m. that night. Murdaugh took a shotgun and shot Paul in the head, then turned around and shot Maggie to death several times as she was fleeing the dog kennels. He was at the home for another 17 minutes before leaving for his parent’s house. During that time he made several phone calls to Maggie but they were never picked up.
He leaves his home on Moselle Road at 9:07 p.m. and GPS data showed Murdaugh driving very fast on the way to his parent’s house. On the way to his parent’s house he calls his living son, Buster, Paul’s friend Rogan Gibson and one of Murdaugh’s close friends Chris Wilson.
He also called his brother John Marvin on his way to his parent’s home. Maggie’s phone shows activity on the side of the road at the same time Murdaugh passes that spot on the way to his parent’s house.
He stayed at his mother’s house for around 20 minutes before heading back to the crime scene. He arrives back at his home at 10 p.m. and heads straight to the main house. At 10:05 he drives down to the kennels and places the first 911 call around 10:07 p.m. to report Paul and Maggie were killed.
Murdaugh tells the officer on scene he checked their pulses and immediately places blame on someone else. Murdaugh told the officer he thought the person who killed Paul was retaliating for Paul’s involvement in a 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach.
“Our criminal justice system worked tonight,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a press conference following the verdict. “It gave a voice to Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, who were brutally mowed down and murdered on the night of June 7th, 2021, by someone that they loved and someone that they trusted. And they couldn’t be here to testify for themselves tonight. Their testimony came through the evidence and the information that was gathered by the men and women of the [law enforcement] agencies I just mentioned.”
Wilson went on to say the verdict proves that no matter who is caught breaking the law they will be held accountable for it.
“I also want to thank the jurors for their long and arduous service. We had no doubt that we had a chance to present our case in a court of law that they would see through the one last con that Alex Murdaugh was trying to pull. And they did. And we’re so grateful for that, “Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
Watch the full press conference in the video player below.
Jurors sat through six weeks of testimony in this case, visited the crime scene and heard lengthy closing arguments from both sides. Testimony came from local police and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigators. Colleton County coroner and a pathologist who performed the autopsy. Murdaugh’s former law partners also took the stand to discuss their friendships with Murdaugh and also their shock when they found out Murdaugh allegedly stole millions from the law firm.
One point the state tried to make was that Murdaugh was a habitual liar and that theory was backed up by Murdaugh himself. Murdaugh’s story admittedly changed every time he sat down with police.
First telling them he wasn’t at the kennels when Paul and Maggie were killed. Instead, he claimed he ate dinner with them, took a nap and then went to check on his ill mom. He says he arrived at his Mom’s house and stayed for around 45 minutes. He spoke to his mom, sat on her bed and watched TV with her caretaker. Then he left for his home., he said.
However, the state played a video recorded by Paul — which placed him at the scene minutes before they were killed — several friends and family members identified his voice.
Then when he took the witness stand, he admitted he was at the murder scene just minutes before the slaughter.
His new story was that he drove down to the kennels on a golf cart to meet Paul and Maggie there. He said he stuck around for a short time, grabbed a chicken out of one of the dog’s mouths and then hopped on his golf cart to drive back to the main house. But the jury didn’t buy it.