Wealthy US lawyer gets double life for killing wife and son
Patrician South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul on Friday. Judge Clifton Newman called the evidence against him “overwhelming” and handed down the longest sentence possible.
Following a lurid six-week trial, Murdaugh was found guilty of one count of murder each for his wife and son, plus two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime related to the assault rifle and shotgun he used to shoot them. The jury took just 45 minutes to convict him on all charges.
Murdaugh, the scion of a powerful Hampton County family, supposedly found Maggie and Paul Murdaugh dead of multiple gunshot wounds near the kennels of the family’s hunting property on June 7, 2021. However, cell phone video footage placed him at the scene with his family just minutes before they were killed, forcing him to change his story – something he would do repeatedly during the trial.
Prosecutors claim the lawyer killed his family to distract from the fraud schemes he had concocted over the years to pay for his opioid addiction. He was confronted by the CFO of his law firm PMPED about missing money just hours before the murders, they pointed out.
Murdaugh is still facing more than 100 other charges, most related to the fraud that amounted to nearly $8.5 million stolen from clients he represented in wrongful death suits.
Three months after killing his wife and son, Murdaugh was fired for stealing from his clients. He quickly came up with a plan to hire a hitman to kill him and secure a hefty life insurance payout for his surviving son, Buster. The disgraced lawyer paid his drug dealer, Curtis Smith, to shoot him, but survived and soon confessed to the plot, landing both men in jail.
An investigation has also been reopened into the suspicious death of a 19-year-old boy in a 2015 roadside shooting and the 2018 slip-and-fall death of the family housekeeper, who had worked for the Murdaugh family for two decades before her ‘accident’ resulted in a wrongful death settlement from which Murdaugh stole $4 million.
While Murdaugh admitted he was guilty of fraud, he insisted he was innocent of murder. His defense attorneys have vowed to appeal the verdict.