A former big-deal attorney from South Carolina was sentenced to life in prison this Friday after a jury found him guilty of double murder.
Richard “Alex” Murdaugh had a highly lucrative career in personal injury law.
The legal field helped Murdaugh’s dynastic family build a legacy in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Three consecutive generations served as solicitors of the 14th Judicial Circuit. The Murdaugh’s law firm grew in size and influence by litigating large corporations, railroads, and other major businesses.
Now, Murdaugh faces a life sentence for allegedly killing his wife, Maggie, and son Paul. Murdaugh was found guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of weapon possession during the commission of a violent crime.
On June 7, 2021, Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were found dead near the family’s dog kennels from fatal gunshot wounds.
During the trial, Murdaugh admitted to lying to investigators about his whereabouts when he found their bodies. He also confessed to stealing millions of dollars from his former clients in order to feed his addiction to opioids. He even revealed that he hired a hitman to kill him so that his son could collect a multimillion-dollar life insurance policy, which was ultimately botched.
But Murdaugh maintained his innocence in the killings.
“I didn’t shoot my wife or my son anytime, ever,” he said during the trial, per USA Today. “I would never intentionally do anything to hurt either one of them. Ever. Ever.”
Over the course of the six-week trial that just wrapped up with the sentencing hearing on March 3, prosecutors presented video footage that placed Murdaugh on the scene minutes before the murders. They used it to support their assertion that Murdaugh murdered his family to gain sympathy and cover up financial crimes that were about to be exposed.
However, the defense criticized the state’s reliance on circumstantial evidence and accused law enforcement of failing to collect crucial evidence. Murdaugh also claimed that a 2019 fatal boat crash in which his son Paul was involved could have been the motive for the killings. Charges had been filed against Paul, including boating under the influence, but they were eventually dropped.
The jury heard from more than 75 witnesses and was shown nearly 800 pieces of evidence. They even visited the site of the murder, together with Murdaugh.
The jury took under three hours to reach the guilty verdict.
According to Murdaugh’s defense team, they will appeal the verdict.
“They had cast Alex as a despicable human being. And that was the reason they offered it,” defense attorney Jim Griffin told AP News.
Murdaugh still faces over a hundred other criminal charges for alleged crimes, including drug trafficking, tax evasion, and money laundering.
The Murdaugh double murder case has gained national attention, leading both Netflix and HBO Max to produce documentaries on the unusual crime.
While garnering less attention, at least among City leaders, violent crime continues to be an issue in Dallas.
Late last month a father allegedly shot his own son for “misbehaving” in North Dallas, according to arrest records. As The Dallas Express reported, the 13-year-old was struck in the abdomen by the bullet, and the suspect, 53-year-old Randy Edwards, allegedly fled without offering aid. The boy was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive.
Since the beginning of the year, Dallas Police Department has logged 1,761 violent crimes and 2,273 family violence crimes. There have been 46 homicides.