After being found guilty of murdering his wife and son, Alex Murdaugh has sent a harsh wake-up call to anyone who thought their privilege and power would put them above the law.
After less than three hours of jury deliberation, Murdaugh was convicted on all four counts: two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a violent crime.
His conviction makes it clear that justice is justly administered regardless of social status or financial means. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson echoed this sentiment when he expressed his appreciation for the justice system of the criminal justice system in this case.
“It’s been a long six weeks, but Maggie and Paul Murdaugh deserved justice, and they certainly didn’t deserve to die brutally at the hands of someone who was supposed to love and protect them,” Wilson said in a statement. “Alex Murdaugh’s house of cards, built on lies, manipulation and theft, came crashing down.”
As the verdict was read in the Colleton County courtroom, emotion filled the room. Alex Murdaugh appeared to be saying “I love you” to his only surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, who could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.
None of the jurors looked in Murdaugh’s direction or made eye contact as he was handcuffed. This was after a lengthy six-week trial that had resulted in a guilty verdict for the murders of his wife and son.
Prosecutors have stated that this sentence would carry a life sentence without parole, abolishing the death penalty. It is also noted that jurors were not sequestered when deliberating their decision on this case, which allowed them to think more freely about the current situation.
After months of litigation, the jury has concluded closing arguments in Walter Murdaugh’s case and has now retired to consider their verdict.
The courtroom was abuzz with anticipation as they left at 3:30 p.m. Thursday night, with speculation that a decision could be made tonight before the self-imposed 10 p.m. deadline.
Arguments centered around an investigation into the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son, with attorney Jim Griffin accusing state law enforcement officials of fabricating evidence to prosecute his client. Many believe that if Griffin succeeds in convincing the court, Murdaught can go free – an outcome no one expected when this tortuous trial began months ago.
Had the detectives done “skillful work,” as attorney Griffin argued, Alex Murdaugh would have been excluded from the investigation a year or two earlier.
The defense tried to shake the state’s case through a plethora of investigative errors, such as failing to test locks of hair found in Ms. Murdaugh’s hand and preserving shoe prints from the crime scene.
In addition, prosecutors failed to collect DNA samples from the victims’ clothing. Despite these allegations against investigators, it remains uncertain whether the defendant is guilty of the alleged crimes.
The defense attorneys’ main argument was that prosecutors had failed to present a report from the state’s forensic expert who found evidence of blood spatter on a T-shirt worn by Alex Murdaugh — a now-disbarred attorney charged with murder.
Although the prosecution initially claimed that the T-shirt in question was covered in blood spatter, further tests would prove otherwise; not only did the garment test negative for any trace of blood, but it also appeared washed.
Griffin put this strange turn of events into perspective in his own words: “They went from Mr. Bloody Shirt leading up to this trial to Mr. Clean during this trial”.
Indeed, such an abrupt change in the story posed a challenge to both sides in the courtroom drama. However, it was also an opportunity for the defense attorneys to point out potential holes in the prosecution’s case and tarnish their credibility.
The credibility of the Murdaugh case was rocked by a seemingly compelling piece of evidence that just didn’t add up.
Months after the murders, investigators found a blue raincoat covered in gunshot residue, seemingly a major break in the investigation. Sadly, “despite being used as the basis for the charges against him,” it never held up at trial.
Defense attorneys even argued that its late appearance cast doubt on its real relevance to the case. As a result, Murdaugh was largely given the benefit of the doubt when it came to this baffling and crucial element in what would eventually become an obscure case.