Murdaugh has pleaded not responsible to 2 counts of homicide and two counts of possession of a weapon in the course of the fee of a violent crime within the killings of his spouse Margaret (referred to as Maggie) and 22-year-old son Paul on June 7, 2021.
South Carolina Legal professional Normal Alan Wilson, whose workplace is prosecuting the case, introduced final month prosecutors wouldn’t search the demise penalty however life in jail with out parole if Murdaugh is convicted.
Prosecutors accuse Murdaugh of committing the murders to distract consideration from a collection of alleged illicit schemes he was working to stave off “personal legal and financial ruin,” in response to court docket filings.
Proof will present, the state claims, that Murdaugh’s alleged monetary crimes had been “about to come to light” when his spouse and son had been killed.
“You’re gonna hear some of what was going on in Alex Murdaugh’s life, leading up to that day – stuff that happened that very day, stuff that was leading up to a perfect storm that was gathering,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters mentioned in his opening assertion Wednesday, after two days of jury choice ended with 12 trial jurors and 6 alternate options being seated.
Waters laid out for the jury proof he mentioned the state had amassed towards Murdaugh, saying that proof will present the victims had no defensive wounds, as in the event that they “didn’t see a threat coming from their attacker.” It can present that Maggie was shot at shut vary by a “family weapon” – an AR-style rifle – that Murdaugh purchased his son to interchange one other that went lacking, Waters mentioned.
And whereas Murdaugh “told anyone who would listen” he was not current on the scene of the killings, the proof will present he was there , Waters mentioned, holding up a cell phone.
Murdaugh’s voice, the prosecutor claimed, shall be heard in video Paul recorded from the kennels on the household’s property the night time of the killing, alongside together with his spouse’s and son’s, minutes earlier than his son’s cellphone “locks forever.”
“Listen for that evidence,” Waters mentioned, “listen to that gathering storm that all came to a head on June 7, 2021 – the day the evidence will show he killed Maggie and Paul.”
Murdaugh’s protection legal professional, nonetheless, mentioned the state’s opening was crammed solely with “theories” and “conjecture,” calling his consumer “the loving father of Paul and the loving husband of Maggie.”
Not a single witness will inform the jury that Murdaugh and Maggie’s relationship was something however loving, legal professional Dick Harpootlian mentioned. Paul, he mentioned, was the “apple of his (father’s) eye,” as exhibited by a Snapchat video the jury will see from the night time of the killings, exhibiting the daddy and son laughing and bonding over bushes they planted.
“To find Alex Murdaugh guilty of murdering his son, you’re going to have to accept that within an hour” of bonding, “that he executes him in a brutal fashion,” Harpootlian mentioned. “Not believable.”
A Colleton County grand jury indicted Murdaugh of their deaths 13 months after the killings. By that point, Murdaugh had “fallen from grace,” within the phrases of his personal legal professional, buried beneath a mountain of allegations of white-collar theft and fraud.
Murdaugh, who has denied involvement of their deaths, referred to as 911 the night time of the killings to report he’d discovered his spouse and son shot useless on the household’s dwelling. Murdaugh’s attorneys blasted prosecutors for the costs, issuing an announcement addressed to household and associates saying he beloved his spouse and son “more than anything in the world.”
Murdaugh’s attorneys are “fully prepared to challenge the State’s allegations, and to demonstrate the weaknesses in the State’s case before a Colleton County jury,” they mentioned in an announcement Sunday.
“Alex looks forward to this opportunity to clear his name of these heinous charges,” they mentioned, “so that the Attorney General can finally begin looking for the actual killer or killers of Alex’s beloved wife and son.”
The jury choice course of was sophisticated by the prominence of the Murdaugh household and title: What was already a gripping tragedy worthy of true crime podcasts and documentaries was given a Southern Gothic twist, largely as a result of three generations of Murdaughs over 87 years served as solicitor for the 14th Circuit, which oversaw prosecutions all through the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Certainly, within the Colleton County courtroom the place Murdaugh pleaded not responsible final summer time, a portrait of his late grandfather, one of many solicitors, had held on the wall.
The portrait was eliminated forward of Murdaugh’s trial.
The facade started to crumble a number of months after the killings, when Murdaugh referred to as 911 to report he’d been shot on the aspect of the street in Hampton County, not removed from his dwelling.
However he later instructed authorities he conspired with a former consumer, Curtis Edward Smith, to kill him as a part of an insurance coverage fraud scheme, per court docket paperwork, purportedly so his surviving son may acquire a $14.1 million life insurance coverage payout.
Murdaugh had resigned from his legislation agency Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, or PMPED, the day previous to the taking pictures. His attorneys mentioned he struggled with an opioid dependancy and was coming into rehab, whereas the agency mentioned his resignation adopted “the discovery by PMPED that Alex misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies.”
The Murdaugh killings additionally led to renewed curiosity in different deaths inside the household’s orbit, together with that of their longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. She died in 2018 in what was described as a “trip and fall accident” on the household’s dwelling. Prosecutors would later allege Murdaugh linked Satterfield’s household to a different legal professional to assist them sue Murdaugh himself for insurance coverage cash he finally pocketed.
The Murdaugh case additionally introduced recent scrutiny to February 2019 demise of 19-year-old Mallory Seashore, who was killed when a ship, allegedly pushed by Paul Murdaugh, struck a bridge piling. On the time of his demise, the 22-year-old was dealing with expenses of sailing beneath the affect inflicting nice bodily hurt and inflicting demise. He had pleaded not responsible, and court docket data present the costs had been dropped after his demise.
Seashore’s household filed go well with towards Alex Murdaugh, who owned the boat, and his monetary data – which state court docket filings mentioned “would expose (Murdaugh) for his years of alleged misdeeds” – would seemingly have been disclosed in a listening to scheduled for June 10, 2021, three days after Maggie and Paul had been killed.
Following their deaths, the listening to was cancelled, pushing aside what prosecutors described in court docket data as a “day of reckoning.”
Prosecutors have indicated these circumstances and others assist illustrate a possible motive for Murdaugh to kill his spouse and son. When Murdaugh was arraigned on the homicide expenses, prosecutor Creighton Waters mentioned the knowledge gathered within the grand jury case, together with allegations of white-collar fraud, “provides the background and the motive for what happened on June 7, 2021.”
As for Murdaugh, he remained defiant that day. When requested how he needed to be tried, responded, “by God and by country.”