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Alex Murdaugh is on trial for the 2021 murders of his wife and child

by Ana Lopez
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As his life fell apart over the past two years, disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh fought to surrender his legal license, claiming he committed many blunders related to missing client money and a financial catastrophe that led to 100 felony charges.

But since then he discovered the bodies of his wife and youngest son, both shot multiple times on the family estate in June 2021, he has maintained he is not the killer. From now through Monday, 12 jurors will deliberate whether or not to agree. Lawyers expect jury selection to continue several days before testimony begins.

Murdaugh has been charged with two murders following a lengthy investigation by state agents; the judge has scheduled three weeks for the trial. Murdaugh insisted on the trial as soon as possible. If found guilty of murder, prosecutors have announced they will not seek the death penalty, but will instead seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Murdaugh.

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In this case, 30 years is the absolute minimum. While the population of Colleton County is only 38,000, hundreds of lawyers and their support staff, reporters and true crime fans are expected to grow the county’s population to more than 100,000 over the course of the trial.

murder of Alex Murdaugh
murder of Alex Murdaugh

The murders and the evidence

Murdaugh, 54, told investigators that on June 7, 2021, he and his 52-year-old wife Maggie found their 22-year-old son Paul dead in the driveway of their Colleton County home. He explained that he was gone for an hour to take care of his ailing parents.

The only details revealed by authorities are that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh was killed with a shotgun, with none of the victims known to police. The prosecution has not produced any specific evidence linking Murdaugh to the murders.

So far, they have not filed any confession or testimony about the murders in court. Neither firearm was found the day before the trial. A video recorded on Paul Murdaugh’s phone moments before the murders were discovered. There is no sign of animosity between the three people discussing. Lawyers for Alex Murdaugh have stated that their client has never denied being in the house.

Alex Murdaugh’s defense claims the presence of the victim’s DNA on his shirt is a result of his vital signs search after discovering their deaths. Murdaugh’s shirt was stained with blood after his child was shot, and the prosecution and defense are currently debating whether to recognize expert testimony to that effect.

Defense attorneys claimed that the expert who examined the shirt lied and destroyed the garment for further examination. Murdaugh’s financial woes, the prosecution alleges, motivated him to steal and kill settlement funds from clients to cover his tracks.

The murders, according to the prosecution, enabled Murdaugh to gain sympathy and, more importantly, to cover up his robberies and other criminal activities. Murdaugh’s lawyers have stated that it is ridiculous to suggest that their client believed the death of his wife and children would lessen the scrutiny of his money.

murder of Alex Murdaugh
murder of Alex Murdaugh

Murdaugh is charged with a wide variety of crimes, including murder, but only two of about a hundred. He is also being tried on two felony gun possession charges. Dozens of state indictments are still hanging over his head. Police say he tried to get someone to kill him so his son could get a $10 million life insurance policy, among other things.

He also stole millions of dollars from clients and funneled a wrongful death benefit for the family’s longtime housekeeper away from her family and into his own pocket. Multiple former clients are suing Murdaugh, and a 2019 boating accident that killed a teen has led to additional lawsuits.

Paul Murdaugh faced criminal charges after the death of a teenagersaid the police. In the aftermath of the 2021 murders, the teen’s relatives vigorously pursued the Murdaughs, seeking financial information.

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Powerful family

Murdaugh’s name is widely recognized by judges and legal professionals in South Carolina. Alex Murdaugh had worked for a family-run law firm in the much smaller neighboring county for more than a century, and the firm had won several multimillion-dollar settlements for tragic accidents and workplace injuries.

murder of Alex Murdaugh
murder of Alex Murdaugh

Three generations of the Murdaugh family served a total of 87 years as elected prosecutors in South Carolina counties Colleton, Hampton and three others. Regular visitors to the Colleton County Courthouse may notice a portrait of Murdaugh’s father. Before his son’s trial, Judge Clifton Newman ruled that it should be removed.

Multiple true crime news outlets and podcasts have covered Murdaugh’s fall from grace. It is the most high-profile case in the state of Palmetto since 1995, when Susan Smith was found guilty of murdering her children in Union County and sentenced to life imprisonment.

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