Alex Murdaugh goes on trial in 2021 killings of spouse, son

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As his life unraveled during the last two years, disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh didn’t combat giving up his regulation license, saying he made loads of errors tied to lacking shopper cash and a monetary mess that led to 100 prison expenses.

However he has adamantly insisted, from the second he reported discovering the our bodies of his spouse and youthful son each shot a number of instances on the household’s property in June 2021, that he was not their killer. Starting Monday, will probably be as much as 12 jurors to determine in the event that they agree.

Attorneys count on jury choice to take a number of days earlier than testimony begins. It took state brokers 13 months of investigation to cost Murdaugh with two counts of homicide, and a choose has put aside three weeks for the trial. Murdaugh insisted on a trial as quickly as potential.

Prosecutors usually are not searching for the loss of life penalty, however stated they might ask for all times with out parole if Murdaugh is convicted of homicide. The minimal sentence is 30 years.

Right here’s an summary of the trial and the scene surrounding it as a whole lot of attorneys and their assist workers, reporters and true-crime lovers are anticipated to swell Colleton County’s inhabitants of 38,000 within the rural, southern a part of South Carolina.

The killings and proof

Murdaugh, 54, informed police he discovered his spouse, Maggie, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, useless outdoors their Colleton County residence June 7, 2021. He stated he’d been gone for an hour to go to his ailing father and mom.

Authorities launched little details about the killings past saying that Maggie Murdaugh was killed with a rifle and Paul Murdaugh with a shotgun.

Prosecutors haven’t detailed direct proof linking Murdaugh to the deaths. Thus far they’ve filed with the court docket no confession or witness statements concerning the killings. There isn’t any proof on the eve of the trial that both gun has been discovered.

There’s a video from Paul Murdaugh’s cellphone with a time stamp not lengthy earlier than the killings. The three are speaking with out proof of anger. Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys stated he has by no means denied being at his residence.

There may be DNA from the victims on Alex Murdaugh’s shirt, however his protection stated that got here from checking for indicators of life when he discovered their our bodies.

The protection and prosecution are preventing over whether or not to permit an skilled to testify that the blood on Murdaugh’s shirt was splattered on it when his son was shot. Protection attorneys stated the skilled testing the shirt is mendacity and destroyed it earlier than the protection might conduct its personal checks.

Prosecutors are anticipated to rely closely on proof of Murdaugh’s monetary issues, which they stated led him to kill to purchase time as he lined up his theft of settlement cash from shoppers.

Prosecutors stated the killings gave Murdaugh sympathy and, extra importantly, allowed him to cover his thefts and different crimes.

Murdaugh’s attorneys have stated it’s absurd to say Murdaugh would have thought his spouse and son dying violently would reduce scrutiny of his funds.

Different crimes

The homicide expenses are solely two of about 100 completely different prison counts Murdaugh faces. He is also on trial on two counts of possession of a weapon throughout a violent crime.

Nonetheless hanging over his head is a broad vary of dozens of state expenses. They embrace stealing tens of millions of {dollars} from shoppers, diverting a wrongful-death settlement for the household’s longtime maid from her household to himself, operating a drug and money-laundering ring, evading taxes and committing fraud in what police stated was an try and have somebody kill him in order that his surviving son might gather on a $10-million life insurance coverage coverage.

Murdaugh additionally faces a variety of civil fits from former shoppers and over a ship crash in 2019 that killed a teenage lady. Police stated that Paul Murdaugh was driving the boat whereas grossly intoxicated and that he confronted prison expenses when the lady died. The household of the lady was aggressively making an attempt to get details about the Murdaugh household funds on the time of the 2021 killings.

Highly effective household

The Murdaugh identify is well-known in judicial circles in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Alex Murdaugh labored for the household regulation agency, which had been in enterprise in tiny neighboring Hampton County for a century, successful a variety of multimillion-dollar settlements over deadly accidents and office accidents.

Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather have been the elected prosecutors for 87 years straight in Colleton, Hampton and three different counties.

Sometimes, a portrait of Murdaugh’s father hangs within the Colleton County Courthouse. Decide Clifton Newman dominated that or not it’s eliminated for his son’s trial.

Small city, massive trial

Murdaugh’s downfall has spawned media protection from all over the world and dozens of true-crime podcasts. It’s most likely essentially the most sensational trial in South Carolina since Susan Smith was convicted of killing her youngsters and sentenced to life in 1995 in tiny Union County.

The Murdaugh trial is happening on the historic Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, the place the big outdated Southern courtroom can seat practically 250 folks, or about 5% of Walterboro’s inhabitants of 5,500.

Walterboro calls itself “The Entrance Porch of the Lowcountry” as a gateway to South Carolina’s standard seashores. It sits alongside busy Interstate 95 with a drag of quick meals eating places and a smattering of chain motels alongside its two freeway exits.

The town final month requested meals vans to park close by to assist a handful of downtown eating places deal with the lunchtime crowds. On a county web site for reporters on the case, 9 residents provided their houses or companies to media shops to make use of as a base to cowl the trial.

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