Alex Murdaugh Is Sentenced To Life In Prison For Killing His Wife & Son

The Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal subject was on trial for double murder.

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Alex Murdaugh sits in court with his legal team, including attorney Margaret Fox during a judicial h...
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Netflix’s Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal centers on one of South Carolina’s most prominent families whose legacy — and decades of influence over the Lowcountry region’s legal system — unraveled amid accusations of fraud, deception, and murder. Father of two Alex Murdaugh, who hails from a long line of powerful legal figures, enjoyed unparalleled sway over authorities until his son Paul’s involvement in a drunken boating accident that resulted in the 2019 death of teenager Mallory Beach.

Then, in June 2021, Murdaugh, a now-disbarred attorney, allegedly shot and killed his wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son, Paul. In July 2022, he pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two weapon charges in connection with the slayings. But by early 2023, Murdaugh was convicted of both murders on March 2, per NBC News. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

So, what led up to the verdict? Here’s a look back at the high-profile case.

Following the June murders, in a bizarre turn of events, Murdaugh claimed in September 2021 that an assailant shot him in the head near his home. He later admitted to hiring a distant cousin, Curtis “Eddie” Smith, in a botched scheme to stage his own murder. Murdaugh said he believed that his surviving son, Buster, who was 26 at the time, would have been able to collect a $10 million insurance settlement after his death.

In an October 2022 court filing, Murdaugh also presented Smith as an alternative murder suspect, with his lawyers claiming that he failed a polygraph test, according to South Carolina’s The State. However, Smith’s legal team countered that her client has an “ironclad” alibi. “Eddie Smith continues to be a victim of Alex Murdaugh and his deeds,” attorney Aimee Zmroczek said. “If you look at this case since the murders, there has been a desire on the part of Alex Murdaugh to insinuate Eddie Smith is somehow involved. This is a continuation of that.”

After he pleaded not guilty in July 2022, Murdaugh’s trial began in January 2023. The former attorney, who was also featured in HBO’s Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty in November 2022, faces 30 years to life in prison without parole if convicted, and his crime was also eligible for the death penalty, though prosecutors chose to not seek capital punishment, according to The New York Times. In the interim, he was jailed in Richland County on a $7 million bond that his attorneys said he was unable to meet, per the Greenville News.

Additionally, Murdaugh was accused of 90 individual counts of alleged criminal activity involving “schemes to defraud victims” of nearly $9 million, in addition to facing drug-related state grand jury criminal charges and 11 civil lawsuits. The additional financial crime charges, which included misappropriating money from his law firm, defrauding clients of funds, and computer crimes, carry combined sentences of hundreds of years behind bars.

Authorities also alleged that Murdaugh defrauded the family of his former housekeeper out of a $4.5 million insurance settlement after she suffered a fatal fall at the family home in 2018, People reported. The reported accident is currently being investigated, as well as the 2021 death of a teenager who was either shot or killed as a result of a hit-and-run incident 10 miles from the Murdaugh home.

Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges against him, and his lawyers claimed that he suffers from an opioid addiction that caused him to live a double life.

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At trial, prosecutors argued that Murdaugh allegedly committed the murders to distract from financial misconduct allegations against him. Attorneys also presented evidence showing that Paul confronted his father about a stash of pills he found about a month before he and his mother were killed. “You're going to reach the inevitable conclusion that Alex murdered Maggie and Paul. He was the storm,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters told the jury in his opening statement, per CBS News. After calling more than 60 witnesses, the prosecution rested its case on Feb. 17.

Meanwhile, Murdaugh’s defense attorneys began calling witnesses the same day. Portraying him as a wrongly accused, loving family man, his lawyers contended that their client couldn’t have had the impulse or time to execute his wife and son. Murdaugh has maintained that he was away from home visiting his mother when the killings took place, telling investigators he found the bodies of his wife and son on the ground by their dog kennels upon returning to the family estate and called 911. The defendant’s only surviving son, Buster, even testified on his father’s behalf on Feb. 21.

Murdaugh himself took the stand, too, but South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson told NBC that was a “fatal” mistake. “I believe in my mind that he believed that he could talk his way out of this,” he said. “And at the end of the day, I think that’s what sealed it for him.”

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