Well-known lawyer Alex Murdaugh has been found guilty of double murder. A jury found Thursday in Walterboro, South Carolina that the 54-year-old shot his wife and son. The lawyer faces a life sentence.
It took the jury less than three hours to reach their decision. With their guilty verdict, they followed the allegations of the public prosecutor's office. The lawyer, who belongs to a prominent legal family, shot dead his 52-year-old wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul on June 7, 2021 at the family's hunting estate in South Carolina.
"The evidence is overwhelming," said Judge Clifton Newman. He announced that he would like to impose the sentence on Friday. For each of the two murders, Murdaugh faces a minimum of 30 years in prison, but it can also be sentenced to life in prison for both crimes. "Today's verdict proves that no one - and no one really - is above the law," said prosecutor Alan Wilson.
The defendant himself showed little reaction to the guilty verdict. He was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after the jury's verdict. The lawyer had alerted the police in 2021 and said he had found the bodies. Later, however, he himself came under suspicion - and was finally accused of double murder in July 2022. The trial generated tremendous interest in the United States, with television stations broadcasting from the courtroom almost daily.
Murdaugh has denied the crimes. However, he had to admit in court that he lied about his presence at the crime scene. His voice can be heard on a cell phone video that his son Paul recorded shortly before the fatal shooting.
Murdaugh had previously stolen millions of dollars from his law firm, from clients and even from the family of a former maid who had collected insurance money after the woman's death in a fall. Among other things, he needed the money to finance his opioid addiction.
According to the prosecution, Murdaugh feared in the summer of 2021 that he would soon be exposed – and wanted to prevent this by killing his wife and son and buying himself time. Then, a few months after the double murder, he paid a man to kill him and his other son collected $10 million in life insurance. Murdaugh was only injured by the shot and survived. He admitted to investigators that he paid the perpetrator.
The trial against the lawyer, which started in January, attracted enormous media interest in the USA, with news channels broadcasting from the courtroom almost every day. Just recently, the streaming service Netflix released a widely watched series entitled "The Murdaugh Murders: Scandal in the Southern States".
It also deals with another case: the murdered son Paul had been involved in a boat accident two years earlier in which a 19-year-old died. Paul Murdaugh was charged with driving the boat while intoxicated.