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Disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh is found guilty in the deaths of his wife and son

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

A rural South Carolina lawyer with powerful family connections is now a convicted killer. Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife and son. Today is his sentencing hearing, where he could be told he'll spend life behind bars. South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen reports.

VICTORIA HANSEN, BYLINE: After six weeks of testimony, it took jurors just three hours to reach a verdict. The lead prosecutor looked nervous, but Murdaugh smiled until the judge asked him to stand as the clerk of court read the jury's decision.

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UNIDENTIFIED COURT CLERK: Guilty verdict.

HANSEN: Jurors did not believe the 54-year-old simply found the bodies of his loved ones on the family's rural property in June of 2021 before calling police. They believe Murdaugh killed them, ambushing Paul twice with a shotgun, then firing several rounds into Maggie with an assault rifle, a weapon once owned by the family that is now missing. The defense quickly motioned for a mistrial, which Judge Clifton Newman denied.

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CLIFTON NEWMAN: The jury has now considered the evidence for a significant period of time, and the evidence of guilt is overwhelming.

HANSEN: Defense attorneys declined to comment following the verdict but said they are ready for sentencing. Murdaugh was then handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters addressed the public and the press outside the courthouse, even as it began to rain.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CREIGHTON WATERS: Justice was done today. It doesn't matter who your family is. It doesn't matter how much money you have or people think you have. It doesn't matter what you think, how prominent you are. If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be done in South Carolina.

HANSEN: Waters said Murdaugh's repeated lies had finally come to an end. Those habitual lies to protect a secret life of alleged drug abuse and embezzlement had been exposed. The biggest lie, Waters argued, was the one that shattered Murdaugh's alibi. A video recently extracted from his slain son's cellphone showed Murdaugh was with his loved ones just minutes before they were killed, and the boy he'd often called his little detective had ultimately provided the final and crucial clue.

For NPR News, I'm Victoria Hansen in Walterboro, S.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.