As his life unravels over the past two years, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh hasn’t fought to give up his license to practice law and says he’s made numerous mistakes regarding the Loss of customer money and a financial mess resulted in 100 criminal charges.
But he has steadfastly insisted, from the moment he found the bodies of his wife and youngest son shot multiple times at the family estate in June 2021, that he was not the killer. People. Starting Monday, up to 12 jurors will decide if they agree.
Attorneys expect jury selection to last several days before testimony begins. It took state agents 13 months of investigation to charge Murdaugh with two counts of murder, and a judge spent three weeks on trial. Murdaugh insisted on a trial as soon as possible.
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, but have said they will ask for life without parole if Murdaugh is found guilty of murder. The minimum sentence is 30 years.
Here’s an overview of the trial and the context surrounding it as hundreds of lawyers and their support staff, reporters and true crime enthusiasts are expected to grow the population of 38,000 people of Colleton County in the rural, southern part of the state.
The Murder and the Evidence
Murdaugh, 54, told police he found Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, dead outside their Colleton County home on June 7, 2021. said he had gone for an hour to visit his ailing parents.
Authorities have released little information about the murder other than to say that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh with a shotgun.
Prosecutors did not have detailed direct evidence related to Murdaugh’s death. So far they have filed with the court no confessions or witness statements about the murder. There was no evidence the night before the trial that either gun was found.
There’s a video from Paul Murdaugh’s phone with a timestamp not long before the murder. All three are talking without evidence of anger. Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys say he has never denied being at his home.
There was DNA of the victims on Alex Murdaugh’s shirt, but his defense said it came from checking for signs of life when he found their bodies.
The defense and prosecutors are fighting over whether to allow an expert to testify that the blood on Murdaugh’s shirt was splattered on it when his son was shot. Defense attorneys say the expert who examined the shirt was lying and destroyed it before the defense could conduct its own tests.
Prosecutors are expected to rely heavily on evidence of Murdaugh’s financial affairs, which they say prompted him to kill people to buy time as he covered up the theft of payments. payments from customers.
Prosecutors said the murder gave Murdaugh empathy and, more importantly, allowed him to hide his theft and other crimes.
Murdaugh’s attorneys have said it is absurd to say that Murdaugh might have thought that his wife and son’s violent death would lessen his oversight of his finances.
The murder charges are just two of about 100 different charges Murdaugh faces. He is also being tried on two counts of possession of a weapon in a violent crime.
Still hanging over his head are a series of state charges. These include stealing millions of dollars from customers, diverting the family’s longtime maid’s unjust death settlement from her family to him, running a drug ring and laundering money. , tax evasion and committing fraud that police believe to be attempted murder. he let his surviving son get a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh also faces a number of civil lawsuits from former clients and over a boat crash in 2019 that killed a teenager. Police say Paul Murdaugh was driving the boat while intoxicated and he was facing criminal charges when the teenager died. The teenager’s family is actively trying to get information about the Murdaugh family’s financial situation at the time of the 2021 murder.
EXTREMELY STRONG FAMILY
The name Murdaugh is well known in judicial circles in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Alex Murdaugh has worked for the family law firm that has been doing business in neighboring small Hampton County for a century, winning several multimillion-dollar settlements for fatal crashes and injuries in Workplace.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were elected prosecutors for 87 consecutive years in Colleton, Hampton, and three other counties.
Usually, a portrait of Murdaugh’s father hangs in the Colleton County Courthouse. Judge Clifton Newman ruled that it would be removed for his son’s trial.
SMALL STREET, BIG CARD
Murdaugh’s downfall attracted media coverage from around the world and dozens of podcasts on true crime and other news. It was perhaps the most sensational trial in South Carolina since Susan Smith was convicted of child murder and sentenced to life in prison in 1995 in tiny Union County.
Murdaugh’s trial is taking place at historic Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, whose large, quaint Southern courtroom can hold nearly 250 people, or about 5% of Walterboro’s population of 5,500.
Walterboro calls himself “The Front Porch of the Lowcountry” as a gateway to South Carolina’s famous beaches. It is located along the busy Interstate 95 with a variety of fast food restaurants and several hotel chains along the two highway exits.
Last month, the city asked food carts to park nearby to help some downtown restaurants deal with lunchtime crowds. On a county website for reporters on the case, nine residents offered their homes or businesses to media outlets to use as a basis for coverage of the trial.