What you should know about the Alex Murdaugh homicide trial

On the witness stand during his murder trial, Alex Murdaugh becomes emotional as defense attorney Jim Griffin grills him

In the well-known US trial of a former attorney accused of killing his wife and son, the defense has concluded its testimony.

A now-disbarred South Carolina lawyer named Alex Murdaugh, 54, has entered a not-guilty plea.

The trial, which is currently in its sixth week, has already heard allegations of corruption, opioid abuse, and a botched hitman suicide plot.

Later this week, it is anticipated that jury deliberations will start.

Detailed information is provided below.

Alex Murdaugh, a seasoned personal injury lawyer, is the last of a legal dynasty that has ruled over South Carolina's Lowcountry for more than a century.

He reported discovering his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, dead on the family's expansive estate on June 7, 2021, close to the dog kennels.

In spite of the fact that there hadn't been any arrests for more than a year, Mr. Murdaugh was indicted in July on two counts of murder and two counts of having a weapon while committing a violent crime.

State prosecutors contend that he shot the pair at close range with a rifle and shotgun despite his denials that he was involved in their deaths.

He could spend anywhere between 30 years and the rest of his life behind bars if found guilty. The death penalty was not sought by the prosecution.

Susan Williams, a defense lawyer for local criminal cases who was not involved in the trial, stated that "the Murdoch name is an extremely big name in the area.". "This is the biggest case I've ever seen here in my life,' the author said. ".

A string of financial allegations against Mr. Murdaugh include claims that he stole millions from the family-run law firm where he was a partner.

To divert attention from his numerous crimes and win sympathy, the prosecution claims he killed his wife and son.

In an effort to undermine Mr. Murdaugh's alibi and highlight numerous contradictions in his version of events, they called more than 60 witnesses over the course of four weeks.

Although the murder weapon was never discovered, the prosecution developed its case using circumstantial evidence such as mobile phone data and gunshot residue.

Additionally, they used a video that Paul recorded just before he passed away. In this video, Mr. Murdaugh is audibly present and has since admitted to lying about not having been at the kennels that night.

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters stated in his opening statement, "This has been a long, exhaustive investigation, but you will reach an inescapable conclusion, that he murdered Maggie and Paul.

According to Neama Rahmani, head of the law firm West Coast Trial Lawyers, a lack of concrete evidence could render the prosecution ineffective.

In a case like this, "you would want to have a lot more forensic evidence," he said. "Alex's decision to kill his wife and son lacks a compelling motive. ".

He continued, however, that the judge's choice to accept proof of financial wrongdoing and drug use may also prove to be important.

Attorneys for Mr. Murdaugh maintain that their client is an honorable husband and father who was wronged by careless law enforcement.

Buster, Mr. Murdaugh's surviving son and the first witness for the defense, claimed that his father was "devastated" and "heartbroken" following the murders.

The defendant had enough time to commit murder, get rid of the evidence, and drive to the location where his alibi put him, the defense claims, but it is "not believable" that he did so.

They emphasize that the state's case is merely "a theory" because there are no eyewitnesses, no concrete evidence, and no blood was discovered on any of Mr. Murdaugh's clothing that evening.

Dick Harpootlian, the lead attorney, emphasized to the jury that "he is presumed innocent.". Your presumption is that he didn't do it; however, they must persuade me otherwise. ".

Mr. Murdaugh testified in his own defense last week for two days on the witness stand, a risky move for any defendant.

For the first time, he acknowledged being at the dog kennels that evening, just before his wife and son were killed.

He acknowledged lying to investigators several times and blamed his long-term addiction to prescription painkillers for making him "paranoid.".

And he acknowledged that he had stolen for years from customers and others he "loved and cared about" in order to support his opiate abuse.

However, he insisted that none of it proved his guilt. He cried as he addressed the victims as "Mags" and "Paw Paw," adding, "I would never do anything to hurt either one of them. ".

According to Mrs. Williams, the testimony was Mr. Murdaugh's "Hail Mary.". She claimed that because he was a former prosecutor, he was aware of the jury's preference for hearing from defendants and that he needed to justify his denial of guilt.

A number of connected incidents that have come to light since the double homicide have contributed to interest in the Murdaugh murders.

Gloria Satterfield, the family's longtime housekeeper, passed away in 2018 following an apparent accident at their residence. She had adult children, and Mr. Murdaugh encouraged them to bring a wrongful death claim. The Satterfields did not receive any of the $4.3m in payouts made by Mr. Murdaugh's insurance company. Later, Mr. Murdaugh acknowledged that he had kept it all. .

Additionally, police are investigating Ms. Satterfield's death. She fell down the stairs after tripping over their dogs, according to the Murdaugh family.

The following year, Paul crashed a boat while intoxicated, killing Mallory Beach, one of his passengers. At the time of his passing, he was facing charges and was free on bail. On the witness stand, Mr. Murdaugh made a suggestion that since the incident, he had received death threats.

Mr. Murdaugh was hurt in a roadside shooting in September 2021, three months after the deaths of his wife and son. Authorities later disclosed that he had staged a failed hit on himself with the help of a distant cousin in order for Buster to be able to collect a life insurance policy.

In addition to the ongoing trial, Mr. Murdaugh faces legal repercussions in all three investigations. He appeared to think about his situation while testifying.

Oh, what a knotty web we spin, he said.

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