Former South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday morning, one day after he was convicted of murdering his wife and son in 2021.
Murdaugh, 54, who had to trade his dress shirt and sport coat for a beige jail uniform following the verdict, maintained his innocence when addressing the judge before sentencing, The Associated Press reported. “I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paul Paul,” he said.
The disgraced lawyer was found guilty of two charges of first degree murder Thursday after a month-long trial and just three hours of jury deliberation. More than 75 witnesses testified as the prosecution built the case showing that Murdaugh, the head of a prominent, powerful family in their small county, shot his son Paul, 22, and wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, at a family property in Islandton, South Carolina, in June 2021.
The high-profile double murder was covered in Netflix’s 2023 docuseries “Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal” and HBO Max’s 2022 docuseries “Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty.”
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The prosecutor, Creighton Waters, said in court Friday that no members of Murdaugh’s family, nor the parents and relatives of his wife, wished to enter victim’s statements before sentencing.
“The depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes are stunning,” Waters said, according to the AP. “The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he is, including here, sitting right over there in this witness stand — your honor, a man like that, a man like this man, should never be allowed to be among free, law abiding citizens.”
Murdaugh learned his fate in the same courtroom where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years, The AP noted. His grandfather’s portrait hung in the back of the room until the judge ordered it taken down for the trial.
“It was especially heartbreaking for me to see you go from being a grieving father, who lost a wife and assigned to be the person indicted and convicted of killing them,” South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman, who added a subdued drama to the proceeding.
“Obviously, as appeals are probably expected or absolutely expected. I would not expect a confession of any kind,” Newman continued. “As I’ve presided over murder cases over the past 22 years, I have yet to find a defendant who can go there who can go back to that moment in time when they decided to pull the trigger, or to otherwise murder someone.
“I have not been able to get anyone, any defendant, even those who have confessed to being guilty, to go back and explain to me what happened at that moment in time when they opted to pull the trigger, when they opted to commit the most heinous crimes known to man.”
Newman spent some time reflecting on the now convicted man he has faced in court many times and how the person who committed the crime did not seem to be the same individual who had practiced law as a member of the community’s elite.
He noted that the prosecutor had a choice to seek the death penalty but did not, and while he didn’t question the decision, Newman remarked on the Murdaugh’s long family history of prosecuting crimes in that courtroom. Many of the people his father and grandfather convicted there received the death penalty, he said, “probably for lesser conduct.”
He chided Murdaugh for his “web of lies,” and told the now convicted murderer “within your own soul you have to deal with that.”