Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Alex Murdaugh to two consecutive life terms.
Here are his full comments:
This has been one of the most disturbing things not only for me as a judge, for the state, for the defense team, but for all citizens in this community and state.
As we’ve seen based on the media coverage around the country, you killed a woman who was murdered. A son, brutally murdered. A lawyer, a person from a respected family who has been monitoring justice in this community for over a century. A person whose grandfather’s portrait hangs at the back of the courthouse that I had to have removed to ensure that both the state and the defense received a fair trial.
I passed the lawsuit. I had to consider many things. We’ve had this case, I’ve also been assigned to lead 99 other cases. There are testimonials about many of those other cases that I will not comment on.
Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Alex Murdaugh to two consecutive life terms
As a well-known member of the legal community, you have worked for me as an attorney. We have seen each other on several occasions over the years.
It was especially heartbreaking for me to see you change in the media from a grieving father who lost a wife and son, to the person charged and convicted of murdering them.
You have engaged in duplicitous conduct here in court, here on the witness stand. Certainly, you are under no obligation to say anything other than “not guilty”.
It goes without saying that occupations are probably – absolutely – expected. (But) I wouldn’t expect any confession.
Since I’ve been running homicide cases for the past 22 years, I’ve yet to find a defendant who could go there, back to that point in time when they decided to pull the trigger or otherwise kill someone. I have not been able to get anyone, not even those who have confessed, to go back and explain to me what happened at that point when they chose to pull the trigger. When they chose to commit the most heinous crimes known to man.
This case falls under our death penalty statute. I have no doubt at all about the state’s decision not to carry out the death penalty. But as I sit here in the courtroom looking around at the portraits of other judges and court officials and reflecting on the fact that your family has been prosecuting people here in this courtroom for the past century and many have been sentenced to death. Probably for less behavior.
Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand? Oh what a tangled web we weave. What do you mean?
Murdaugh: I meant when I lied, I kept lying.
Judge Newman: The question is when will it end? It’s already over for the jury. They concluded that you kept lying and lying. There is nothing that can soften a sentence, given the crimes committed. An alibi order has been filed. You claimed to have been elsewhere when the crime was committed.
After all the witnesses placed you at the crime scene, in the last minutes you changed course and admitted that you were there. Then more lies were needed. You kept lying.
Where will it end? For many it is already over. You have to deal with that in your own soul. 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 of it.
Murdaugh: All day and every night
Judge Newman: Yes, I’m sure. They will continue to do so. I don’t know a person who has always been so sociable, a kind person can make their life become entangled in such a woven web… you turned from lawyer to best man. And now you have the chance to file your last appeal, as an ex-lawyer.
It’s almost, it’s really surprising. You waive this right at this time. If you choose to do this, it’s up to you. You are not required to say anything, but you have the option to do so.
Murdaugh: I respect this court, but I’m innocent. Under no circumstances would I hurt my wife Maggie or my son Paul Paul.
Judge Newman: Maybe it wasn’t you? It could be the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills. You may become a different person. I’ve seen that before. The person in front of me was not the person who committed the crime, although it is the same person. Let’s leave it at that.
There are other victims whose cases deserve to be heard. And this case has transcended some of those other cases – perhaps because of this case that resulted in the attack on the integrity of the judicial system in our state, law enforcement in our state. Even during this process, law enforcement has been slandered for the past five or six weeks by someone who had access to the wheels of justice to divert the investigation and, as shown in this case, talked about impending storm Mr Waters.
I can imagine the day of June 7 when a lawyer was confronted and confessed to stealing over half a million dollars from a client and has a tiger like Mark Tinsley on his tail to make discovery in the death case from Mallory Beach. And having a father on his deathbed for the most part. I can imagine – I really can’t imagine – but I know quite a lot must have gone through your mind that day.
But amazing that you came to testify that it was just another ordinary day – that ‘my wife and son and I’ were just out and about enjoying life. Not believable. Not believable. You can convince yourself, but you have had the inability to convince anyone else.
I sentence you to the state department of corrections on each of the murder charges.
On the murder of your wife Maggie Murdaugh, I sentence you for the rest of your natural life.
For the murder of Paul Murdaugh, whom you probably loved so much, I sentence you to prison for killing him for the rest of your natural life.
Those sentences run sequentially.