Alex Murdaugh’s defense team says the intense interest in his trial has cost him a fair price, telling reporters outside his sentencing hearing today that the jury could have “watched anything on Netflix.”
Murdaugh was found guilty yesterday of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul at the family’s hunting lodge in South Carolina.
He pleaded his innocence during a six-week blockbuster, but failed to convince the jury that someone else was responsible for their deaths.
Today he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences by a judge who labeled him a “monster”.
During the trial, Netflix released a documentary series about his crimes and the family’s intricate web of controversy and death.
Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian (left) and Jim Griffin speak out of court following his sentencing
Alex Murdaugh was sentenced today to two consecutive life sentences after a six-week trial
There was also 18 months of intense public interest in the family, Murdaugh, and his alleged crimes, including a botched suicide attempt, embezzlement from his law firm, and theft of his late housekeeper’s sons.
Today, Murdaugh’s attorneys, Senators Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, said he never stood a chance at a fair trial given that interest, and that prosecutors won the case when they convinced the jury he was a liar.
“The (jury) heard everything. We were hoping to get a jury that could ignore the noise and focus on the murder.
“In the end they tried a case they could have watched on Netflix,” Griffin said.
Harpootlian also defended putting Murdaugh on the stand – a move that scared off the jurors – saying he had “no choice” but to try to defend himself against the picture that was painted.
“He had been portrayed as a monster who stole from children and crippled people… he had to try and push that back.
“If he had left that without taking the stand, he would have been toasted. Taking the stand – could he pull it off? Apparently not.’
Harpootlian also criticized a ‘comedy of error’ by the police during evidence gathering. Initially, the grand jury indicting Murdaugh was told that police found blood spatter on his shirt, when no such blood spatter was ever detected.
Murdaugh claims that someone else killed his wife and son, but that police were too focused on him from the start to ever seriously look for other suspects.
It’s not our job to find the real killer. If they had taken fingerprints, taken footprints… they would have misrepresented to the grand jury that they had a shirt with his blood on it…
Defense attorneys said it wouldn’t have made a difference if Buster Murdaugh had given a statement Friday and that he’s already been through “more trauma than anyone can imagine.”
Alex Murdaugh with wife Maggie and their sons Buster (left) and Paul (right)
Tracy Kinsinger holds up a sign as Alex Murdaugh walks into the Colleton County Courthouse for sentencing Friday, March 3, 2023 in Walterboro, SC
Prosecutor John Meadors (right) exits Colleton County Court on March 3, 2023
Members of the media wait for Alex Murdaugh to arrive at the courthouse during his sentencing at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, SC, on Friday, March 3, 2023
Officers walk past Daniel Brothers before Alex Murdaugh is brought to court during the sentencing of Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, SC, on Friday
During the trial, the Netflix series Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal was released
“It was a comedy of forensic errors.
“But am I confident that they will find the real killer? No,’ he hissed.
They have vowed to appeal the case and say they will take the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The lawyers added that Murdaugh’s family is “steadfast” in their support of him and more than ever convinced of his innocence.
“The state has gone to great lengths to convince the family that Alex is the killer. The family went to court every day expecting to hear positive evidence that he killed Maggie and Paul.
“They came more convinced that he hadn’t done this,” Griffin said.
He also explained why Buster, Murdaugh’s surviving son, did not make an impact statement today before his term of office was declared.
“We could have had Mother Teresa speak up there in support of him and it wouldn’t have made any difference. He received a double life sentence.
‘That was to be expected. This is Judge Newman. He is a very strict punisher when it comes to crimes and punishments, that was never in dispute.
“If Buster stood up and spoke for his father, it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Harpootlian, who is also a senator, said a ‘comedy of error’ in evidence gathering led to Murdaugh’s arrest
Alex Murdaugh took the stand, but failed to convince the jurors of his innocence
“And why do you want to traumatize that child more than anyone we can ever imagine has ever experienced?”
Buster supported his father every day in court, but he has yet to make a public statement about the murders of his mother and brother, or about the allegations against his father.
As Alex Murdaugh exited the courthouse, a heckler shouted, “Buster’s next!” Justice for Stephen Smith!’
He was referring to Buster’s 19-year-old friend who died in 2015 and whose death remains unexplained.
Police reopened the investigation into Smith’s death after Maggie and Paul were killed.
Smith was found dead on the side of the road in 2015. Initially his death was considered a hit-and-run, but police now say he also suffered a blunt trauma wound to the head.
The Murdaugh family name is mentioned in the police file detailing his death.
Alex Murdaugh told the court that at the time of his wife and son’s deaths, he was spending up to $50,000 a week on opioids to feed a crippling addiction that caused him to lie frequently.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Clifford Newman said Murdaugh would be pursued by his wife and son.
“You have to see Paul and Maggie at night when you’re trying to sleep.” I’m sure they’ll come visit you. I’m sure,’ he said.
Murdaugh replied, “All day, all night.”
Judge Newman shot back, “I’m sure. And they will continue to do so.’