After less than three hours of deliberations, a jury found Alex Murdaugh guilty on all counts Thursday evening for the June 7, 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie, and youngest son, Paul in a trial that spanned more than five weeks and drew attention from across the nation to rural Colleton County, South Carolina.
The jury was dismissed from the courtroom to begin deliberations at 3:50 p.m. on Thursday. They returned with a verdict at 6:41 p.m.
Murdaugh was found guilty on all four charges two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
“What a great day for the people of South Carolina,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said during a news conference held outside the courthouse. “Today’s verdict proves that no one, no one, no matter who you are in society is above the law.”
Prosecutor Creighton Waters, who received applause from the crowd who gathered around the courthouse,
“Justice was done today, It doesn’t matter who your family is. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or people think you have. It doesn’t matter what you think how prominent you are. If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be done in South Carolina. And I think South Carolina has shown the nation and the world how a process and work and work well.”
According to former Attorney General Charlie Condon, who was in the courtroom, Murdaugh mouthed, “I’m sorry, I love you!” to his surviving son Buster before being escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs.
Judge Clifton Newman said he would issue a sentence Friday morning. Court is expected to resume Friday at 9:30 a.m.
State prosecutors presented a largely circumstantial case that failed to produce a “smoking gun.” Much of the prosecution’s focus instead was on motive, showing how Murdaugh was facing imminent downfall from his life of wealth and prominence due to years of thefts.
Prosecutors also zeroed in on the repeated lies Murdaugh told investigators in the aftermath of the murders as to his whereabouts that night specifically, whether he was with Maggie and Paul by the family’s dog kennels where they were murdered.
Murdaugh initially told investigators he wasn’t at the kennels in the time leading up to Maggie and Paul’s deaths, but a video from his late son’s cell phone proved Murdaugh was there within five minutes of when investigators believe Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were killed.
The defense argued that contrary to what the State presented, they believed that two shooters may have carried out the murders and that Murdaugh trying to avoid facing punishment for his admitted financial crimes was not a plausible motive for maliciously killing his wife and son.
The defense also alleged that had state investigators done a proper job of processing the scene and securing evidence, Alex would have been eliminated as a suspect long before the start of the trial.
Murdaugh has been in custody since October 2021 on charges unrelated to the slayings. In July 2022, a year and a month after the murders of Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh was officially indicted on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.