The judge presiding over the South Carolina murder trial has said the evidence against the ex-lawyer is “overwhelming.”
Alex Murdaugh, the 54-year-old scion of a longstanding South Carolina legal dynasty, has been found guilty of murdering his wife and youngest son after a jury in the United States deliberated for less than three hours.
In the aftermath of the verdict, Murdaugh’s defense team moved quickly to get the suit declared a mistrial. But Judge Clifton Newman dismissed the appeal.
“The evidence of guilt is overwhelming,” Newman told the court.
The long-awaited verdict ends six weeks of testimony and evidence as prosecutors attempted to link the former lawyer to the shooting deaths of his wife Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and his 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. He now faces 30 years to life in prison.
Murdaugh’s defense team presented its closing arguments ahead of jury deliberations on Thursday, with defense attorney Jim Griffin pointing out what he considered serious flaws in the murder investigation.
Griffin argued that investigators and prosecutors jumped to conclusions about Murdaugh and targeted him as a suspect without properly collecting evidence or considering alternative theories.
The defense alleged that investigators failed to collect fingerprints and blood evidence while discarding important materials such as the victims’ clothing and the cloth sheet used to cover the bodies, which could have contained DNA that could have been traced to other suspects. orphan.
Griffin also noted that there was no DNA evidence linking Murdaugh to the crime scene. The murder weapons have also not been recovered.
“How could he have slaughtered Maggie and Paul without leaving a trail of evidence in minutes?” Griffin said. Given the amount of blood spatter from the shootings and the short time Murdaugh would have had to act, Griffin argued there was no way his client could have committed the crime.
“He had 17 minutes. He’d have to be a wizard to make all that evidence go away,” Griffin said.
But the prosecution ultimately made final comments to the jury, arguing that the 12-member panel didn’t have to solve every mystery in the Murdaugh case to know he was guilty.
“You can’t answer every question and the law doesn’t require it,” attorney John Meadors told the jury.
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found shot to death on June 7, 2021, outside the dog kennels on their sprawling estate in a remote part of Colleton County, South Carolina.
Four to five gunshots were identified on Maggie Murdaugh’s body. Paul Murdaugh, meanwhile, had been killed by two shotgun blasts, each with a different sized bullet.
Murdaugh has denied any involvement in the double murder throughout the proceedings, saying he was visiting his ailing mother, who suffers from dementia, at the time of the death.
He also initially claimed that he was nowhere near the dog kennels that night. But a key piece of evidence from the prosecution brought him close: After a year of efforts, detectives managed to unlock Paul Murdaugh’s iPhone, which contained a video taken near the kennels on the night of the attack. His father’s voice can be heard on the recording.
Murdaugh belongs to a powerful family of lawyers in South Carolina. His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all elected attorneys on the state’s 14th Circuit Court, putting them in charge of prosecuting and prosecuting criminal cases in five South Carolina counties.
In addition to Thursday’s murder trial, Murdaugh still faces more than 100 felony charges, including numerous financial misdeeds. For example, he is accused of stealing $7 million from his family’s law firm and taking money from his clients’ legal settlements, amounting to $8.8 million.