Alex Murdaugh, a once-prominent South Carolina attorney whose legal family influenced the state’s Lowcountry region for generations, has been found guilty of murdering his wife and son.
The 54-year-old was convicted Thursday of two counts of murder in the 2021 shootings of his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, at the family’s rural hunting property in Islandton, South Carolina. Each count carries a sentence that can range from 30 years to life in prison. He was also found guilty on two counts of possessing a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
The jury deliberated for just under three hours.
Murdaugh had insisted on his innocence throughout the weekslong trial, though he admitted on the stand that he stole money from clients and his law firm, and that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the night his family was killed.
Murdaugh came clean about being at the dog kennels with his wife and son minutes before they were fatally shot, after prosecutors presented cellphone video that appeared to capture his voice at the scene with them. The video was recorded by Paul on June 7, 2021, at around 8:45 p.m., just minutes before it’s believed he was shot twice from behind. The video was discovered in April 2022 when Paul’s phone was finally unlocked by authorities.
Murdaugh testified that he was briefly at the estate’s kennels, but that he left his wife and son there. He said he returned to the main house and then left to visit his ailing mother just after 9 p.m. When he returned home around 10 p.m., he said, he found his wife and son dead and called 911.
Murdaugh partially blamed his opioid addiction for his decision to lie to police about not having been at the kennels that night. The drugs made him paranoid and distrustful of state law enforcement, he said.
“I did lie to them,” he said. “Once I lied I continued to lie, yes sir ... Once I told a lie, and I told my family, I had to keep lying.”
Murdaugh, a fourth-generation lawyer, was disbarred last year from practicing law while facing multiple criminal investigations and civil lawsuits related to the shooting deaths and allegations that he stole from clients and his law firm.
He is still awaiting trial for the financial crimes he admitted to on the stand, as well as insurance fraud charges ― after being accused of attempting to arrange his own killing three months after his family’s deaths ― and tax evasion and money laundering charges.