After being found guilty of killing his wife and son, Alex Murdaugh has sent a harsh wake-up call for anyone who thought their privilege and power would put them above the law.
Following less than three hours of jury deliberations, Murdaugh was convicted on all four counts–two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime.
His conviction makes it clear that justice is administered justly, regardless of societal status or financial ability. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson echoed this sentiment as he voiced his appreciation for the criminal justice system’s delivery of justice in this case.
“It’s been a long six weeks, but Maggie and Paul Murdaugh deserved justice, and they certainly did not deserve to brutally die at the hands of someone who was supposed to love and protect them,” Wilson said in a statement. “Alex Murdaugh’s house of cards, built on the foundation of lies, manipulation, and theft, came crashing down.”
As the verdict was read out in the Colleton County courtroom, emotion filled the room. Alex Murdaugh appeared to mouth “I love you” to his sole remaining son, Buster Murdaugh, who could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.
None of the jurors looked in Murdaugh’s direction or made eye contact as he was placed into handcuffs. This was after a lengthy six-week trial which had resulted in a guilty verdict for murdering his wife and son.
Prosecutors have stated that life in prison without parole is sought for this sentence, forgoing the death penalty. It is also noted that jurors were not sequestered when deliberating their decision on this case, enabling them to think more freely about the situation at hand.
After months of litigation, the jury has completed closing arguments in the case of Walter Murdaugh and have now retired to consider their verdict.
The courtroom was abuzz with anticipation as they filed out at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, and speculation runs that a decision could be reached before the self-imposed 10 p.m. deadline tonight.
Arguments centred around an investigation into the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son, with defence lawyer Jim Griffin accusing state law enforcement agents of fabrication evidence in order to prosecute his client. Many believe that if Griffin is successful in persuading the court then Murdaught may walk free – an outcome nobody anticipated when this twisting trial began months ago.
Had investigators done a “competent job”, as defense attorney Griffin argued, Alex Murdaugh would have been excluded from the investigation a year to two years prior.
The defense attempted to shake the state’s case through a plethora of investigative errors, such as failing to test strands of hair found in Mrs. Murdaugh’s hand and preserve footwear impressions from the crime scene.
Additionally, prosecutors failed to collect DNA samples from the victims’ clothing. Despite these allegations against investigators, it remains uncertain whether or not the defendant is guilty of the alleged crimes.
The key argument by defense lawyers was that prosecutors hadn’t presented a report from the state’s forensics expert finding evidence of blood splatter on a T-shirt worn by Alex Murdaugh – a now disbarred lawyer accused of murder.
While the prosecution initially contended that the T-shirt in question had been covered in bloody splatter, further tests would prove otherwise; not only did the garment test negative for any trace of blood, but it furthermore appeared laundered.
Griffin put this strange turn of events into perspective in his own words: “They went from Mr Bloody Shirt leading up to this trial to Mr Clean during this trial”.
Indeed, such an abrupt change in story presented a challenge to both sides in the courtroom drama. However, it was also an opportunity for defense attorneys to point out potential holes in the prosecutor’s case and poke at their credibility.
The credibility of the case against Murdaugh was rocked by a seemingly compelling piece of evidence that just didn’t add up.
Months after the killings, investigators recovered a blue raincoat covered in gunshot residue, seemingly a major break in the investigation. Unfortunately, “despite using it as a basis for the charges against him” it never held up at trial.
In fact, defenders argued that its late appearance cast doubt on its real relevance to the case. As a result, Murdaugh was largely given the benefit of the doubt when it came to this perplexing and crucial element in what would be an ultimately inconclusive case.