Former lawyer Alex Murdaugh stood trial for the double murder of his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and son Paul Murdaugh, who died on June 7, 2021. Alex’s trial began on January 23, 2023. The public received more information on the case after the February 22, 2023, release of the Netflix docuseries The Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal. The series follows the murders of Maggie and Paul and four other deaths that are allegedly connected to the prominent family. Now, the South Carolina native is facing a 22-count indictment for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
What Was the Verdict In Alex Murdaugh’s Trial?
After just hours of deliberation on March 2, 2023, Alex was found guilty of murdering his wife and son. The jury had to be unanimous in its decision to either acquit or convict the former lawyer, and had until 10 p.m. EST to come to a ruling. The defense presented its closing argument just six hours before jurors found Alex guilty of murder as well as guilty on two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, according to multiple reports. After a break for lunch and the removal of one of the jurors due to inappropriate conversations with a member of the public not affiliated with the case, the jury delivered the verdict to Judge Clifton Newman.
How Long Will Alex Murdaugh Be in Prison?
Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life behind bars. The attorney was sentenced to two life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders of his wife and son, per CNN.
Buster Murdaugh Addresses Alex’s Sentencing
Alex’s eldest son has always supported him and advocated for his alleged innocence.
Buster told Fox’s Martha MacCallum in August 2023 that he did not believe Alex was “affiliated with endangering” his mother and brother, while claiming to “believe” the killer is running free.
“I think I set myself up to be safe but yes, when I go to bed at night, I have a fear that there is somebody that is still out there,” he admitted.
Who Is Alex Murdaugh?
Alex and late wife Maggie met and started dating in college while attending the University of South Carolina. The pair got married on August 14, 1993, in South Carolina and welcomed their first child, son Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh three years later. Their youngest son, Paul, was born on April 14, 1999.
Alex comes from a formerly prestigious family in South Carolina. He was a partner for the state’s private injury law firm now known as The Parker Law Group formerly Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), which his great-grandfather Randolph Murdaugh Sr. founded in 1910.
He also worked for the 14th Judicial Circuit, as the Murdaugh family ran the Solicitor’s Office – which prosecutes criminal cases over five counties – since 1920. Alex’s great-grandfather, grandfather Randolph Murdaugh Jr, and father Randolph Murdaugh III ran the office until 2006.
However, the law firm went through a rebrand in January 2022 after Alex faced legal troubles, resulting in the current name The Parker Law Group.
Alex worked for his family’s law firm until September 3, 2021, when he was forced out of the firm for stealing millions of dollars from the firm and its clients, leading him to resign from his position.
The state alleges “four schemes” were “employed” by Alex to “steal money from and deceive his clients, friends, family, law firm and business associates,” according to the court document obtained by In Touch.
Alex faced another issue in his law career that same month. On September 4, 2021, Alex called 911 to report he had been shot in the head on the side of the road close to his home – which is also known as Moselle Farm. He had claimed he was shot by a person driving by in a passing truck, per the Netflix docuseries, which featured a clip of the phone call.
However, Alex admitted shortly after that he hired former client Curtis Edward Smith, a.k.a “Cousin Eddie,” to kill him in hopes that his surviving son, Buster, could collect his $10 million insurance policy, according to Fox News.
Alex and Curtis were indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges and charged with felonies for distributing and purchasing narcotics in June 2022. The act resulted in Alex being disbarred by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
How Did Maggie and Paul Murdaugh Die?
Maggie and Paul were shot and killed on the Moselle property of their Islandton, South Carolina hunting estate in June 2021.
Sources claimed that Maggie and Alex were having marital problems and she was living in the family’s beach house on Edisto Island, located nearly an hour away from the family’s estate, per People.
The night of her murder, Maggie met Alex at the kennels at his request and allegedly texted a friend that her husband was acting “fishy” and was skeptical that he was “up to something.”
Paul’s body was found in the doorway of the storage room at the dog kennels while his mother’s body was found approximately 30 feet away in the grass around the corner of the kennel, per Fox News.
The late family matriarch was shot five times by a rifle. Her body was found face-down, and two of the five shots were fatal, forensics expert Kenneth Kinsey said under oath on February 16, 2023, according to a video posted by CourtTV. Of the deadly shots, one went through her left breast and one went through the back of her head.
Paul, however, was shot twice by a shotgun — which was a separate murder weapon than the one used on his mother. Kinsey stated that the then-22-year-old was first shot from “several feet away” in the chest before being blasted with a bullet to the head, instantly killing him and detaching his brain from his head.
Did Alex Murdaugh Kill Maggie and Paul?
The family patriarch made the 911 call at 10:07 p.m. the night his wife and son were murdered, claiming he “found” Maggie and Paul dead. Part of the 911 call aired during an episode of Netflix’s The Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.
During the phone call, Alex said he was not on their Moselle property during the killings, and claimed he discovered their bodies after visiting his mother.
The former lawyer was formally charged with two counts of murder and two weapons charges on July 14, 2022, according to court documents obtained by In Touch. However, Alex pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, per Fox News. According to NPR, Alex maintained his innocence until his trial began.
The State believes Alex committed the murders of Paul and Maggie to “divert attention from the looming exposure of death, fraud and deceit,” per the court documents obtained by In Touch, which were tied to his alleged financial schemes at his law firm.
Additionally, prosecutor Creighton Waters revealed that investigators recovered a raincoat covered with gun residue that Alex allegedly hid at his mother’s home one week after Paul and Maggie’s death. Waters revealed the information during his opening statement on January 25, 2022.
When Alex took the stand on February 23, 2023, witnesses resurfaced a video uploaded by Paul on the night he and his mother were killed. The video was timestamped at 8:44 p.m. at the kennels and Alex was heard talking to Maggie in the background. However, nobody was seen in the video.
The clip was used in court, leading Alex to confess that he lied about his whereabouts, blaming it on his then-substance abuse with opioid painkillers, per NPR.
“I did lie to them. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I don’t think I was capable of reason, and I lied about being down there, and I’m so sorry that I did,” Alex said in court on February 23, 2023, claiming, “I didn’t shoot my wife or my son, anytime, ever.”
The grand jury believes Alex killed Maggie and Paul with a deadly weapon, according to documents obtained by In Touch.
Prosecutors rested their case on February 17, 2023.
What Other Murders Are the Murdaughs Connected To?
In addition to Maggie and Paul’s death, the Murdaugh family has been connected to four other deaths.
In 2015, then-19-year-old Stephen Smith was found dead in the middle of a Hampton county, South Carolina road at night. Although his death looked like a hit-and-run at first glance, Stephen had a deep gash on his head. Furthermore, his loose-fitting shoes were still on his feet, implying he was not hit by the blunt force of a moving vehicle, per the Netflix docuseries.
In the series, viewers learned that Stephen’s car ran out of gas on the side of the road, which explained why he was on the road. Anonymous tips also suggested that Stephen was in a romantic relationship with Alex’s older son, Buster, and he was the one to assist Stephen with his car problems. According to anonymous witnesses in the Netflix docuseries, Stephen called Buster to help with his car troubles. Buster was allegedly in the area and retrieved Stephen from the road, hours before his death.
Stephen’s case turned cold and was reopened by investigators in 2021.
On March 21, 2023, South Carolina authorities announced that Stephen’s death will be investigated as a homicide. Police initially believed he died of “highway vehicular manslaughter,” according to a Bland Richter Law Firm press release.
“We have a chance to right eight years of wrongs, and we intend to do just that,” attorney Eric Bland, who is representing Stephen’s mother, said.
Four years later, Paul drunkenly drove his boat with five of his friends while returning from an oyster bake, hitting a bank of a dam near Paris Island, South Carolina. Four friends were injured in the crash and Mallory Beach, then 19 years old, suffered blunt-force trauma to the head and drowned.
Paul was indicted on one count of boating under the influence causing death and two counts of boating under the influence and causing great bodily harm two months after the February 2019 boating accident, per Fox News.
According to the Order of Judge Newman Allowing Evidence of Other Crimes Into the Trial, Paul and Alex were sued for the deadly boat crash and Alex was served with “a motion to compel his financial information.” Alex was preparing for a hearing that was scheduled three days after Paul died.
As stated in the court documents, at the scene of Paul and Maggie’s deaths, Alex admitted he “believed” Maggie and Paul’s murders were connected to the boat case.
The third death connected to the family involved the Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield on February 26, 2018.
Maggie called 911 and reported Gloria fell back on the brick steps outside their home after their dogs jumped on her. She died at the hospital later that day due to her injuries.
Paul’s ex-girlfriend Morgan Doughty claimed in the Netflix series that Gloria was like a mother to him. Their bond was so close that she felt comfortable enough to tell Paul she allegedly found bags of drugs taped under Alex’s bed before her deadly accident.
Morgan’s parents even revealed that Gloria “knew too much” about the Murdaugh family during a confessional in the docuseries, implying there could be a motive for her death.
The Satterfield family filed a wrongful death claim 10 months after the mysterious fall in December 2018. After further investigation, Alex was arrested at a Florida rehab center in October 2021 and charged with embezzling money from Gloria’s insurance settlement.
Gloria’s brother, Michael Satterfield, testified against Alex on February 3, 2023, in the double murder case, claiming Alex “denied receiving” the $4 million in insurance settlements after she fell at his home, In Touch can confirm.
Did Alex Murdaugh Steal From His Dead Housekeeper?
Two months after being convicted in the murders of his wife and son, Murdaugh was indicted on 22 counts of federal fraud.
On May 25, Murdaugh was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.
According to the indictment, Murdaugh allegedly “engaged in three different schemes to obtain money and property from his personal injury clients.”
One of the alleged victims was the family’s former housekeeper, Gloria, who died after falling in the Murdaugh house in February 2018. The former personal injury attorney allegedly conspired with another personal injury lawyer and friend, Cory Fleming, while siphoning settlement money following Gloria’s death, according to ABC News. Meanwhile, banker Russell Laffitte, who allegedly assisted Murdaugh in stealing from additional personal injury clients, was convicted in November 2022 of six federal charges.
“Trust in our legal system begins with trust in its lawyers,” U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs said in a statement, per ABC News. “South Carolinians turn to lawyers when they are at their most vulnerable, and in our state, those who abuse the public’s trust and enrich themselves by fraud, theft, and self-dealing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Meanwhile, Murdaugh’s legal team remains confident that the 22 new charges will be “quickly resolved” outside of the courtroom.
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