A jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife and son on Thursday after just a few hours of deliberation.
Murdaugh was a prominent attorney who hailed from a historic, well-known South Carolina family with multiple members working in the law, but he has fallen from grace in recent years following allegations that he killed his wife and son and committed financial crimes against his clients and law firm.
The investigation into the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh began almost two years ago when Alex Murdaugh called police on June 7, 2021, telling them that he had found them dead after he returned home from visiting his mother.
Officers found Maggie, who was 52 years old, hit with four or five bullets from a rifle and Paul, who was 22, shot twice by a shotgun. A report on the crime scene indicated that they were injured near dog kennels on the family’s rural property, called Moselle, before being shot in the head.
Murdaugh’s attorneys confirmed he was a person of interest in the investigation in October 2021, but he was not arrested until one year after the killings occurred.
Prosecutors argued in the trial that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract from financial crimes that he committed. Without access to the weapons used in the killings, the evidence that the prosecution has focused on has been topics like the brutality of his wife and son’s deaths and information about bank records.
The defense turned to experts to scrutinize the way that investigators handled the scene. The experts testified that they found investigators did not dust for fingerprints or collect and test blood.
Family and friends were also able to walk around the crime scene. The bodies were covered by a sheet, which can absorb fluid, instead of a tarp and the sheet was not saved. Rain, on some occasions, fell on Paul’s body.
But Murdaugh’s credibility about the night the killings happened was thrown into question after the prosecution proved he lied to police about his whereabouts. A video that Paul took, which was locked in his phone for a year before authorities gained access to it, revealed that Alex was present at the kennels where his wife and son were shot five minutes before officials think it happened.
Murdaugh told officers that he was never at the kennels, but his voice was on the video that Paul took.
His attorneys made what legal experts said was a risky move in having Murdaugh himself testify in his own defense. He adamantly denied to his own attorneys and to prosecutors during cross-examination that he killed his wife or son or that he would ever hurt them.
Murdaugh admitted, though, to stealing millions of dollars from clients he represented and from his law firm.
Following the murder trial, Murdaugh will stand trial for the financial crimes he has been accused of, some of which he has admitted to. He has been charged with about 100 other counts of financial and other crimes.
For one charge of insurance fraud, prosecutors allege that Murdaugh asked someone to kill him so that his surviving son, Richard, could receive $12 million from life insurance. He is also facing charges of tax evasion and money laundering.
Jurors were taken to the scene of the crime Wednesday following the end of Murdaugh’s testimony before closing arguments occurred.
Updated at 7:50 p.m.
Julia Shapero contributed to this article.
Source: Rocky Mountain News
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