By Kayla Epstein in Walterboro, South Carolina & Madeline Halpert in New YorkBBC News3. March 2023, 13:24 GMT
Updated 31 minutes ago
Disgraced former attorney Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison a day after his conviction for the murder of his wife and son.
Judge Clifton Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two life terms at a hearing in Walterboro, South Carolina. They are served one after the other.
Mr Newman called the case “one of the most disturbing” he had seen.
Murdaugh spoke briefly in court twice to plead his innocence.
The jury deliberated less than three hours Thursday before convicting 54-year-old Murdaugh on two counts of murder after a six-week trial.
Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were shot dead at close range on June 7, 2021 at their family home.
Alex Murdaugh led a legal dynasty that had occupied a powerful place for decades – the jurisdiction has been dubbed by some as “Murdaugh Country”.
That privilege — and Murdaugh’s new position on the other side of the criminal justice system — was addressed by the judge at sentencing.
“It was particularly heartbreaking for me to see how you grew in the media from a grieving father who lost a wife and son to the person who was accused and convicted of killing them,” Judge Newman said.
“You’ve been so duplicitous here in the courtroom, here on the witness stand,” he added. “You lied and lied throughout your testimony.”
During the trial, investigators revealed how Mr Murdaugh stole nearly $9 million from clients to fund an addiction to painkillers and a lavish lifestyle.
Prosecutors argued he killed his wife and son to divert attention from his financial crimes and gain sympathy.
The full court fell silent as Judge Newman began the sentencing process.
Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, dressed in a simple navy blue blazer, sat still and silent throughout the trial – even as the judge sentenced his father to two concurrent life sentences.
The judge suggested the murders may have been carried out while under the influence of the drugs.
“Maybe it wasn’t you, but it could have been the monster you became taking those pills.”
Watch: From police interrogations to trial testimony, who is Alex Murdaugh?
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters argued the evidence against the South Carolina attorney was “overwhelming” and showed he was a “cunning, manipulative man who put himself above everyone else, including his family.”
Murdaugh, meanwhile, reiterated his claim that he was not guilty.
“I would never hurt my wife and I would never hurt my son,” he said in brief remarks at the hearing. He stared straight ahead and didn’t react when his sentence was read.
A video Paul shot just minutes before he was recorded showed his father’s voice in the background, dramatically contradicting his claim that he wasn’t there at the time.
A jury convicting him told ABC News that that was when he began to think the defendant was guilty.
The high-profile case garnered national attention, sparking true crime podcasts and documentaries.