Alex Murdaugh’s highly watched trial drew to a close as he was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday for the murder of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul.
On June 7, 2021, Murdaugh called the police, saying that he found the dead bodies of his wife and son near the family’s dog kennels. Greenville News reported that they were shot multiple times.
Murdaugh resigned from his family’s “storied” law firm and later was arrested on Sept. 16 after being charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
The disbarred South Carolina attorney’s trial proceedings lasted nearly six weeks and spurred a Netflix documentary, in addition to being the focal point of podcasts. The Murdaughs were something of a legal dynasty in South Carolina, with a sprawling estate to boot, which contributed to the trial’s visibility. Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, per CNN, but the verdict was unanimous.
The trial brought to light several different revelations about Murdaugh and his family. Here are some of the key revelations from the trial.
Murdaugh’s alibi ended up being suspect
During the trial, Murdaugh admitted that he lied about his alibi, saying that paranoia and his addiction to opiates were to blame for his deception.
In his initial story to investigators, he said that he didn’t see his wife and son after they ate dinner together at their hunting estate, according to NPR. He claimed that he was napping while his wife and son were killed near the dog kennels. He said that he woke up and then found the bodies.
But investigators were able to use witnesses to identify Murdaugh’s voice in a video taken by Paul Murdaugh near the dog kennels minutes before Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were murdered. The video was taken at 8:44 pm. Phone data showed that Murdaugh’s phone was immobile at his main home and then suddenly became active after the murders were believed to take place.
Then, Murdaugh drove 80 mph, well above the speed limit, down rural roads to his mother’s home, per NPR. A caregiver there said she saw Murdaugh carrying a blue tarp, which he denies happened, even though he admitted that he lied about his alibi.
The alleged assisted-suicide attempt
Just a few weeks after the murder of Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh said that he was shot when he was changing a tire on the side of the road, according to ABC News. The date was Sept. 4 and investigators say that he went to the hospital and was treated for a “superficial wound.”
He had called 911 and said he was shot. But he later contradicted that story. “Murdaugh later claimed in an affidavit that he had asked the alleged gunman to assist him in dying by suicide, so his remaining son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy,” ABC News reported.
The alleged gunman denied this story. According to South Carolina Public Radio, Murdaugh said that the alleged gunman was someone who he knew and that he paid as much as $60,000 each week for his drug addiction.
Murdaugh’s financial dealings were questioned
Evidence of alleged financial misconduct was presented throughout the trial. CNN reported that Murdaugh faces 99 charges related to allegedly defrauding the government, former clients and his former law firm of millions of dollars.
During the trial, prosecution used testimony of Murdaugh’s alleged financial misconduct and alleged deception.
“They said Murdaugh lied when he set up a fake bank account mimicking a legitimate company. He lied as he used that account and others to embezzle millions from his family’s law firm,” reported South Carolina Public Radio. “And he lied when he told the vulnerable sons of his late housekeeper a much promised, insurance settlement had yet to be reached.”
Prosecutors connected the alleged shooting incident to Murdaugh’s financial dealings by saying that Murdaugh staged that shooting when he was fired from his law firm and a friend had confronted him regarding $792,000 missing from the law firm, per South Carolina Public Radio.
Cellphone data was key evidence used in trial
Paul Murdaugh’s video, mentioned above, was used to identify Alex Murdaugh as near the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul minutes before the murders were believed to take place. Other cellphone data was part of the trial as well.
Paul Murdaugh was texting his friend about movie recommendations at 8:48 and 8:49 was the last time his phone was unlocked. Maggie Murdaugh’s phone was last unlocked at 8:49:31. Alex Murdaugh’s phone recorded 283 steps from 9:02 to 9:06 and he called Maggie’s phone twice during that period, according to The New York Times. His car left at 9:07 and passed the area where Maggie Murdaugh’s phone was later found at 9:08.
Cellphone data was used to establish that Alex Murdaugh was near the dog kennels with Maggie and Paul minutes before the murders took place, show that he was near the main home moments after the murders took place and establish a theorized timeline.
Mallory Beach’s wrongful death suit
Mallory Beach died on Feb. 23, 2019, during a boating accident where Paul Murdaugh was present. During cross-examination, Alex Murdaugh referred to this incident, according to CBS News. Alex Murdaugh has said that this incident was tied to his son Paul’s death.
Prosecutors disputed this and said that Murdaugh had murdered his wife and son to get sympathy because he was worried about alleged financial crimes coming to light, per CBS News. But this incident has other dimensions involving Alex Murdaugh as well.
Six friends, including Paul Murdaugh and Mallory Beach, had gone boating on Feb. 23, 2019. In an accident, Beach died. Paul Murdaugh was said to have been driving the boat and his blood alcohol level was measured by hospital staff to be three times above the legal limit. CBS News reported that Paul Murdaugh was charged with multiple felonies and pleaded not guilty.
Beach’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, according to Fox News, which was settled with the Murdaugh estate. Alex Murdaugh was accused of confronting other passengers on the boat and saying that they shouldn’t speak to law enforcement about the incident. Beach’s family’s lawyer, Mark Tinsley, also said that Murdaugh approached him and attempted to convince him not to pursue Beach’s case.
Where is Alex Murdaugh now?
Alex Murdaugh will now spend life in prison without parole for the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.