WALTERBORO, S.C. (WSAV) — Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in the double murder of his wife and son Friday.
Murdaugh was found guilty Thursday 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.
Murdaugh continuously proclaimed his innocence to the judge at sentencing Friday, saying, “I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son Paul-Paul.”
After over a month of testimony from dozens of witnesses, in less than three hours of deliberation Thursday, jurors convicted Murdaugh on all charges — two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
The defense immediately motioned for a mistrial but Judge Clifton Newman denied the motion, saying the evidence was overwhelming.
The state established that Murdaugh was motivated to kill due to his alleged financial crimes and stealing money from his former law firm.
“They won this case the day the judge bought in to letting them put in everything,” said Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh’s defense attorney. “Stealing from kids who lost their mother to someone with pancreatic cancer to a paraplegic.”
“It didn’t matter about what we put up,” he continued. “They would never, ever, ever acquit him after that.”
In an exclusive interview with WSAV News 3, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson and Creighton Waters, chief prosecutor, said it was a team effort that made this happen.
“It’s such a long process that I felt comfortable leaving it in the jury’s hands,” Waters said.
For decades, Murdaugh’s family held a powerful influence over the legal system in the Lowcountry. But Wilson said this trial was all about accountability.
“The one message that we wanted to send in this case, and we will send it in other cases, too, is that no one is above the law, no matter what your station is in life,” he said.
Prosecutors had previously said that they would seek life in prison without the possibility of parole, sparing Murdaugh the death penalty.
Meanwhile, his attorneys have vowed to file a motion of appeal on the first day they’re eligible — 10 days from now.
According to the South Carolina Department of Corrections, Murdaugh will now have 45 days of evaluation before being transferred to a maximum-security state prison, like all new inmates serving life sentences.
ALEX MURDAUGH MURDER TRIAL LIVE BLOG:
9:00 a.m. – Alex Murdaugh arrives at the Colleton County courthouse for sentencing in a prison jumpsuit and shackles.
9:40 a.m. – Court is gaveled into session.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters says the state has no impact statements. Waters opts to offer remarks. He offers condolences to Maggie’s family.
Waters goes on to speak on the evidence saying, “It shows this man to be a cunning manipulator, a man who placed himself above all others, including his family, a man who violated the trust of so many – including his friends, his family, his partners, his profession, but most of all Maggie and Paul.”
Waters asked Judge Clifton Newman to sentence the maximum for both counts.
Defense attorneys say they have no comment, but Alex wants to speak.
“I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son Paul-Paul,” Murdaugh says while standing.
Judge Clifton Newman asks Murdaugh to prepare for sentencing.
Judge Newman speaks on how troubling the case and trial has been.
“We have a wife who has been killed, murdered, a son savagely murdered, a lawyer, a person from a respected family who has control of justice in this community for over a century… a person whose grandfather’s portrait hanged at the back of the courthouse – that I had to have ordered removed in order to ensure that a fair trial was had,” Newman said of the trial.
Judge Newman asks what Murdaugh meant when he previously said “oh what a tangled web we weave” during prior testimony. Murdaugh replies, “I meant that I lied and continued to lie.”
“The question is, when will it end,” Judge Newman asked. Newman tells Murdaugh that his proclamation that he is innocent could be a part of these continued lies.
Murdaugh again claims he’s innocent. “I respect this court, but I’m telling you I’m innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie. And I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul Paul,” Murdaugh says.
“And it might not have been you, it might’ve been the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 60 opioid pills,” Newman tells Murdaugh. “Maybe you become another person… the person standing before me was not the person who committed the crime, though it’s the same individual.”
Newman sentences Murdaugh a life sentence each for both Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.
10:12 a.m. – Judge Newman adjourns court.