Alex Murdaugh’s Murder Conviction Explained: What Was The Prosecution’s Argument?

Alex Murdaugh, a discredited former lawyer, was convicted guilty of killing his wife and son at their country residence in 2021 by a South Carolina jury.

In less than three hours of deliberation, the jury found four defendants guilty of murdering Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on Thursday. Also, Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of having a weapon while committing a crime. He received a life sentence on Friday. Below are some details concerning the case and the 28-day trial that resulted in the decision.

Who Is Alex Murdaugh?

The P.M.P.E.D. law practice was founded by Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, where the “M” stood for Murdaugh (the firm has since been renamed). The 64-year-old University of South Carolina law school alumnus is a member of a powerful legal clan with a long history in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

The judge ordered that the grandpa portrait of Murdaugh, who passed away, be taken out of the courtroom where his trial is currently being held. Before being ejected from the firm and later disbarred in July of last year, the majority of his professional activity was as a personal injury attorney.

Since his multimillion-dollar bond was not posted in October 2021, Murdaugh has been detained at the Richland County Correctional Center. He was able to see his 26-year-old son Buster, who attended the trial daily along with Murdaugh’s brothers on most days.

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Murdaugh is accused of several additional crimes unrelated to this murder case, including reportedly planning his demise to receive an insurance claim. He is charged with approximately 100 financial offenses, including fraud, money laundering, tax evasion, and forgeries. On the witness stand during this trial, he admitted to several of these offenses; however, the legal process for the other counts won’t start until the murder trial is over.

What Happened The Night Of The Murdaugh Murders?

On June 7, 2021, at after 10 p.m., Alex Murdaugh made a 911 call from his home in Islandton, South Carolina, stating that he had discovered his son Paul, 22, and his wife Maggie, 52, dead. “I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and son were just shot badly,” Murdaugh told emergency dispatch on the road. 

On the more than 1,700-acre property, he claimed to have discovered the couple in the open near some kennels and checked on them both for breathing. Maggie and Paul were found dead in pools of their blood by responding police officers. “Any reasonable person would have assumed they were dead,” first responding officer Sgt. Daniel Greene testified.

Greene’s body camera footage of the night shows that Murdaugh was quick to offer Greene an explanation for why this might have happened. “This is a long story, months back he was in a boat crash, my son has been getting threats, mostly beginning stuff, but he’s been getting punched,” Murdaugh says on the video. 

That alludes to the boat accident in 2019 that claimed the life of South Carolina youngster Mallory Beach. A number of the other boat passengers were suing the Murdaugh family on behalf of Paul Murdaugh, who was purportedly operating the vessel the night of the horrific collision.

What Was The Prosecution’s Argument?

Under the direction of Creighton Waters, the state’s prosecution team portrayed a helpless Alex Murdaugh. They contend that Murdaugh was under enormous pressure due to his alleged decades-long financial misdeeds, which resulted in a perfect storm that drove him to murder Paul and Maggie to win sympathy and stop inquiries into the money he’s accused of stealing.

“We couldn’t bring you any eyewitnesses because they were murdered,” Waters said in his closing statement. “But common sense and human nature can speak on behalf of Maggie and Paul. Look at this in its totality.”

One of the critical pieces of evidence for the state is a video Paul took only minutes before he passed away. Numerous witnesses claimed to have heard Alex Murdaugh’s voice, despite Murdaugh’s denials that he was ever at the kennels that night. Although shot at close range, neither Paul nor Maggie displayed any signs of defensive wounds.

Alex Murdaugh is shown in a Snapchat video that Paul also captured wearing a different set of clothes than the ones he wore when the police discovered him the night of the killings. The earlier set of clothes has never been found and the later location was “freshly laundered,” Despite Murdaugh’s allegation that he examined the bodies of both Paul and Maggie for signs of life, a witness stated that they were found without any blood on them.

Alex Murdaugh's Murder Conviction Explained

The prosecution’s case also centered on persuading the jury that Murdaugh was a coward who lied to hide his involvement in the murder and was desperate.

“People lie because they knew they did something wrong … and just like always, when confronted with evidence he can’t deny, he backtracks and pivots and tells another new lie … the one thing you know is a constant is he is lying to them,” Waters said in his closing.

What Was Going on With The Jury?

The original Colleton County jury, made up of 12 regular members and 6 alternates, was reduced to just one alternate by the time the case was over after several members were expelled for medical reasons. One member was expelled for discussing the issue in clear violation of the judge’s order.

The jury visited Moselle, the Murdaughs’ expansive hunting estate, and the crime scene the day before the dismissal. Jurors could determine the shed’s size and the separation between the home and the kennels where Maggie and Paul were slain.

Waters requested that the jury rewatch the police interviews during the closing remarks. The jury, consisting of five women and seven men, was not required to decide, but they did have access to all of the material. They finally reached a unanimous decision of guilty on all counts in less than three hours.

It was “surprising,” according to Rikki Klieman, a legal expert for CBS News, that the jury reached a verdict so rapidly. The jury did not request to see any evidence or hear any testimony again.

“It was one thing for them to come to a rather quick decision, meaning a day or two, if they were going to find Alex Murdaugh guilty,” Klieman said. “It’s another thing to come to the decision within three hours.” 

What Happens Next?

While the judge in the case dismissed the defense’s motion for a mistrial, saying the “evidence of guilt is overwhelming,” the defense team may choose to appeal, Klieman said.

“The defense may have grounds for an appeal on a variety of legal issues, but this was also a case that was very, very well tried on both sides,” she said.

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