Disbarred South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was found guilty on all counts in the brutal double homicide of his wife and son in Colleton County on Thursday evening. After less than three hours of deliberations, twelve jurors returned the unanimous murder verdicts – along with two guilty verdicts on associated weapons charges.
“I’m sorry,” Murdaugh mouthed to his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, as he was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom. “I love you. I love you.”
Buster Murdaugh – who testified on his father’s behalf last week – offered no visible response to his father.
Murdaugh will be sentenced tomorrow by S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman – who is expected to impose back-to-back life sentences on the two murder charges and additional years behind bars on the two weapons charges. Upon being sentenced, Murdaugh will be transferred at some point to the custody of the S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC).
Murdaugh will be handcuffed, shackled and dressed in prison garb upon his arrival at the Colleton County courthouse on Friday – representing a stark visual departure from his appearance over the past six weeks in jackets, dress shirts and slacks.
Why the change? Because as of 7:07 p.m. EST, Murdaugh is a convicted murderer … not an accused killer.
The dramatic conclusion to the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century’ almost didn’t happen, though …
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Prior to the removal of a juror earlier in the day, sources familiar with the deliberations indicated Murdaugh’s trial – which drew international attention – would have likely ended in a hung jury.
As our researcher Jenn Wood reported earlier today, Newman removed the juror in question for having improper conversations with three individuals about the case. The juror allegedly lied to Newman about these communications – which violated his order that jurors not discuss the case with anyone (or each other).
Newman removed her “in order to protect the integrity of the process.”
“You have been by all accounts a great juror,” Newman said, telling her she had been “attentive to the case.”
Newman added he was “not suggesting you intentionally did anything wrong” – and thanked the juror for her service.
Her removal paved the way for a guilty verdict hours later …
“She was dug in,” a source familiar with the deliberations confirmed. “She said he was ‘not guilty’ and there was nothing anyone could do to change her mind.”
“She would have hung the jury,” another source confirmed.
At approximately 6:00 p.m. EST, jurors indicated to court officials they would not need to have dinner delivered to them. This was the first indication that the lone holdout on the panel had been swayed …
The next indication came as one of the bailiffs in the courtroom instructed members of the gallery at around 6:50 p.m. EST to refrain from making any sounds “whether you agree with the verdict or not.”
After that, things began moving swiftly – and by 7:02 p.m. EST judge Newman entered the courtroom and announced that a verdict had been reached. Three minutes later, at 7:05 p.m. EST, he addressed the forewoman.
“Have you reached a verdict?” Newman asked.
“Yes,” she responded.
“Is it unanimous?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
Moments later – at 7:07 p.m. EST – Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill read the four verdicts aloud beginning with the two murder charges.
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Murdaugh is now convicted of killing his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and youngest son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on June 7, 2021 at Moselle – the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties. He pleaded not guilty to those charges last July and for the last six weeks stood trial in Walterboro – part of a five-county region of the Lowcountry his famous family ruled like a fiefdom for more than a century.
The scion of an influential South Carolina legal dynasty, Murdaugh once led the Palmetto State’s powerful trial lawyers’ lobby. Today, he remains squarely at the epicenter of a maze of alleged criminality known as the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
Murdaugh’s attorneys – led by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – have thirty days to file a notice of appeal in the case. Sources close to the defense have told us such a notice will be filed prior to that deadline.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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