Richard “Alex” Murdaugh, the South Carolina lawyer found guilty of killing his wife and son in a grisly and complex case that has garnered international attention, faces 30 years to life in prison when he is sentenced by a judge today.
On Thursday, a South Carolina jury declared Murdaugh, 54, guilty on two counts of shooting dead his wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son, Paul, 22 on their family estate on June 7, 2021. He was also convicted of two related firearms charges.
On Friday, during his sentencing hearing, he still protested his innocence, telling the court: “I would never hurt my wife Maggie. I would never hurt my son Paul Paul.”
Murdaugh, the scion of an influential legal family in an area west of Charleston, faces 30 years to life in prison for each of the two counts of murder under South Carolina law.
Remarkably, Murdaugh has one more thing to say: “I am innocent. I would never hurt my wife Maggie. I would never hurt my son Paul Paul.”
Still, he protests his innocence.
He will now be sentenced.
Prosecutors call for two life sentences
Murdaugh, sat in a beige prison jumpsuit should be given two consecutive life sentences, Mr. Waters says.
He adds that there won’t be anyone representing the victims speaking at the sentencing hearing.
Sentencing hearing begins
Creighton Waters, prosecuting, says that Murdaugh “violated the trust of his friends, family and partners but most importantly, Maggie and Paul.
“I am so grateful that the jury gave them a voice.
“Paul was described as a fun-loving young man.”
“Maggie was cut down in the prime of her life.”
No-one who thought they knew this man really knew who he was.
How this will play out
Murdaugh will be brought into the courtroom shortly.
There may be victim impact statements read out in court.
Buster Murdaugh, whose mother and brother were killed in the attack, will now watch his father be taken away to spend what’s likely to be the rest of his life behind bars. He was in the witness box during the trial, but may speak again today.
Maggie Murdaugh’s parents were on the witness list but were never called. They too could deliver a victim impact statement.
After, will be the sentencing. Murdaugh is facing anywhere between 30 years to life in prison. Commentators expect he will be given a full life fee.
He will then be taken into custody by the department of corrections.
Murdaugh family dynasty shattered
As Alex Murdaugh stands before a judge to learn his fate, he’ll be in the same courtroom on the circuit his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years. His grandfather’s portrait hung in the back of the room until the judge ordered it taken down for the trial.
Instead of the dress shirt and sport coat he wore through the six-week trial, the attorney who made millions suing big companies on behalf of people injured in wrecks arrived at court in a jail jumpsuit the day after he was convicted of two counts of murder .
Why the extraordinary story is gripping America
Between the drama taking place in the courtroom and a well-timed Netflix documentary on the small screen, the nation is hooked.
Read Josie Ensor’s piece on how the trial has gripped America.
Sentencing due to begin at 2.30pm GMT (9.30am EST)
The Telegraph will be carrying a live stream of the sentencing of Alex Murdaugh, which is due to begin at 9:30am in South Carolina, which is 2:30pm in the UK.
The 54-year-old faces anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.
How we got here
The case has drawn intense media coverage given the family’s immense political power in and around Colleton County, where the trial took place. For decades until 2006, family members served as the leading prosecutor in the area, and Murdaugh was a prominent personal injury attorney in the Deep South state.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors portrayed Murdaugh as a serial liar and argued that only he had the means and the opportunity to commit the murders. Prosecutors said he gunned down his wife and son to distract from an array of financial crimes, including the theft of millions of dollars from his law partners and clients – money used to feed a years-long addiction to opioids and support an expensive lifestyle.
For their part, Murdaugh’s lawyers tried to paint their client as a loving family man who, while facing financial difficulties and suffering from an opioid addiction that led him to lie and steal, would never harm his wife and child.
Murdaugh pleaded not guilty, but admitted to lying about his whereabouts on the night of the murders after evidence emerged placing him at the scene, denting his credibility with the jury.