What to know about the murder trial for Alex Murdaugh

During his cross-examination by the defense during his murder trial, Alex Murdaugh breaks down in tears

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

Attorney Alex Murdaugh, 54, of South Carolina, who is currently barred, has entered a not guilty plea.

In the sixth week of the trial, allegations of corruption, opioid abuse, and a botched hitman suicide plot have been presented.

Later this week, jury deliberations are anticipated to start.

Here is all the information you require.

Alex Murdaugh, a seasoned personal injury lawyer, is the next generation of a family of lawyers that has ruled the Lowcountry region of South Carolina for more than a century.

On the family's expansive estate, he claimed to have discovered his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, dead on June 7, 2021.

After more than a year without any arrests, Mr. Murdaugh was indicted in July of last year on two counts of murder and two counts of having a weapon while committing a violent crime.

State prosecutors contend that despite his denials, he used a rifle and shotgun to kill the pair at close range.

He could spend up to life in prison without the chance of parole if found guilty. The prosecution decided against seeking the death penalty.

According to Susan Williams, a local criminal defense lawyer who is not involved in the trial, "The Murdoch name is an extremely big name in the area.". "In my lifetime, this is the largest case I have ever seen here. ".

Separately, Mr. Murdaugh is dealing with a slew of financial allegations, including claims that he stole millions from the family-founded law firm where he was a partner.

He allegedly killed his wife and son to gain sympathy and divert attention from his numerous crimes.

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

The prosecution developed its case using circumstantial evidence, including mobile phone data and gunshot residue, despite the fact that investigators were unable to locate a murder weapon.

They also used a video that Paul recorded just before he passed away; in it, Mr. Murdaugh, who has since admitted to lying about not being at the kennels that night, can be heard in the background.

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

Neama Rahmani, president of the law firm West Coast Trial Lawyers, asserts that a dearth of concrete evidence might render the prosecution ineffective.

In a situation like this, "certainly, you would want a lot more forensic evidence," he said. "Alex killed his son and wife for no apparent reason. ".

But he added that it might also be important that the judge allowed evidence of financial wrongdoing and drug use to be admitted.

The legal team for Mr. Murdaugh insists that their client is a devoted husband and father who was wronged by careless law enforcement.

The only surviving son of Mr. Murdaugh, Buster, who served as the first witness for the defense, claimed that his father was "devastated" and "heartbroken" following the killings.

Additionally, the defense claims it is "unbelievable" that the defendant had enough time to commit murder, get rid of the evidence, and travel to the location of his alibi.

They emphasize that the state's case is nothing more than "a theory" because there are no eye witnesses, no concrete evidence, and no blood was discovered on any of Mr. Murdaugh's clothing that evening.

Leading attorney Dick Harpootlian reminded the jury that "he is presumed innocent.". "Your presumption is that he didn't do it; however, they must persuade me otherwise without a shadow of a doubt. ".

Last week, Mr. Murdaugh testified in his own defense for two days, which is a risky move for any defendant.

He finally admitted that he had been at the dog kennels that evening, just before his wife and son died.

He acknowledged lying to investigators several times and blamed his "paranoid" behavior on a long-standing prescription painkiller addiction.

And he admitted to stealing for years from customers and others he "loved and cared about" to pay for his opiate abuse.

But none of it implied that he was guilty, he insisted. I would never do anything to intentionally hurt either of them, he said, calling the victims "Mags" and "Paw Paw" with tears in his eyes. ".

According to Mrs. Williams, Mr. Murdaugh's "Hail Mary" testimony was given in court. She claimed that he was a former prosecutor who understood that juries prefer to hear from defendants and that he needed to justify his denial of guilt.

The Murdaugh murders have drawn attention in part because of a number of connected incidents that have come to light since the double homicide.

Gloria Satterfield, the family's longtime housekeeper, passed away in 2018 after what appeared to be an accident. Her adult children were encouraged to bring a wrongful death claim by Mr. Murdaugh. The $4.3m that Mr. Murdaugh's insurance company paid out did not go to the Satterfields. Later, Mr. Murdaugh acknowledged he had kept everything. .

Police are also investigating Ms. Satterfield's death. She tripped over their dogs, according to the Murdaugh family, and fell down the stairs.

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

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

In addition to the ongoing trial, Mr. Murdaugh is being investigated by the three different agencies. He seemed to consider his situation while testifying.

Oh, what a complicated web we spin, he remarked.

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