Alex Murdo will be sentenced Friday for the murders of his wife and son
Alex Murdo, a disgraced attorney whose family enjoyed considerable legal success in parts of South Carolina for decades, will be sentenced Friday for the murders of his wife and 22-year-old son.
After hearing from dozens of witnesses for more than a month, jurors took less than three hours Thursday to find Murdog guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the June 2021 murder, as well as possession of a weapon during the trial. violent crime. .
A sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Friday in Colleton County, South Carolina. Prosecutors said they would seek to spare Murdoch the death penalty and sentence him to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Justice was served today,” senior prosecutor Creighton Waters said at a press conference Thursday evening. “It doesn’t matter who the family is. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what people think of you. It doesn’t matter how prominent you are. If you make a mistake, if you break the law, if you commit murder, justice will be served in South Carolina.
On June 7, 2021, Murdo’s wife Maggie and youngest son Paul were found shot to death on the family’s property in Islandton. Murdoch, speaking in his own defense last week, said he found the bodies after returning from a short trip. . that night to his sick mother.
The defense requested a mistrial after the verdict, but Judge Clifton Newman denied it, saying jurors had had enough time to consider the evidence and the evidence of guilt was “overwhelming.”
With little or no direct evidence linking Murdow to the scene, including no eyewitnesses, the prosecution relied largely on circumstantial evidence, including phone and vehicle tracking systems that showed Murdow’s nighttime movements. murders.
Prosecutors argued that Murdoch’s goal was to delay and distract from an investigation into his growing financial troubles. They focused on a case of fraud in which he stole millions of dollars from his former clients and law firm and lied to cover his tracks — thefts and lies that Murdow admitted to in court.
Prosecutors pointed to another lie that played a key role in the case: a video clip that Murdough placed at the scene of the killing shortly before the killing, despite repeatedly saying during the investigation that it did not exist.
Before prosecutors said he was killed, a video shot by Paul near the family’s kennels captured the voices of Alex Murdog and about a dozen friends and family in the background. family members testified. Murdow later said the voice was his and that he lied to investigators about its location because he had become paranoid, which he attributed to his addiction to opioid painkillers.
“Ultimately … this is the victim, Paul Murdo, who solved his own murder,” Dave Aronberg, Florida’s Palm Beach County District Attorney, told CNN during the trial Thursday night.
Defense attorneys said Murdog was a loving father and husband who meant no harm to his family, and argued that authorities failed to properly investigate other suspects. During closing arguments, the defense derided the prosecution’s theory of motive as silly and lied about his whereabouts because he was an “addict,” not because he was guilty.
The case has drawn national attention, including Netflix and HBO Max documentaries, to Murdo, a former personal injury attorney whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather were prosecutors in southern South Carolina from 1920 to 2006.
Murdaugh was a partner in the powerful law firm that bears his name. But that popularity belied underlying problems, and after the murders of his wife and son, embezzlement, his resignation, a suicide-for-hire plot and allegations of corporate fraud. insurance, stints in rehab for drug addiction, his firing, and eventually murder charges.
In a separate case that has not yet been filed, Murdo faces 99 counts of multiple alleged financial crimes, including defrauding his clients, his former law firm and the government out of millions.
Legal experts told CNN late Thursday that the judge will consider two main factors in determining the sentence: the nature and severity of the crime, including the fact that Murdog killed members of his own family.
Some analysts said the judge’s speech Thursday night could foreshadow the verdict.
“I thought the judge, who was very calm and even-tempered throughout the trial, was calm, but I thought he showed his view of the evidence, which he called a ‘defeat.’ said Jessica Roth, a law professor at the Cardozo School of Law.
After the trial, some attorneys told CNN they didn’t expect a unanimous guilty verdict, especially not so quickly. Murdo’s lies may have prompted the quick decision, they said.
“They convicted him by sentence,” said criminal defense attorney Sarah Azari. “I thought there was going to be some sort of struggle in the jury room. I don’t think they could get away with the lie (about the kennel video).
Legal experts told CNN that Murdog’s testimony could be a turning point and a double-edged sword for the group. Experts say it was an opportunity for jurors to sympathize with him because he admitted to his drug addiction and repeated lies during investigations into financial schemes and murders. Experts say the verdict shows jurors don’t believe Murdog is credible.
Bill Nettles, a former U.S. attorney from South Carolina, said he expected a hung jury when jurors couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict after lengthy deliberations.
“One thing you can definitely take away from this is that he’s lied to a lot of people he’s loved for a long time, so he’s obviously good at it,” Nettles told CNN.
“If he had gone there and they believed him, he might not have been guilty. But once they decide he’s ready to come and they don’t trust him, it’s a tough hill to climb,” he added.
Justin Bamberg, a lawyer for alleged victims of Murdog’s financial crimes, said he was also surprised by the speed of the verdict. When he learned the verdict came less than three hours after deliberations began, he suspected Murdog would be convicted, he said.
“I think the jury accepted that this man lied to everybody, including the clients,” he told CNN.
Victims represented by Bamberg saw Thursday’s sentencing as the beginning of bringing Murdog to justice, she said.
“All of Alex’s victims want one thing: full accountability. And full responsibility began today with the verdict of these jurors,” he said.
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