Alex Murdaugh taking the stand was a «fatal» move for him at his double murder trial, and the Snapchat video that placed him near the scene of the death of his wife and youngest son was the final «nail» that sealed the case, South Carolina prosecutor. General Alan Wilson said the Friday before the sentencing.
Appearing on NBC’s «TODAY» show Friday morning, Wilson spoke about moments from the high-profile trial that sealed Murdaugh’s fate.
On Thursday, after three hours of deliberations, a jury of seven men and five women convicted the disgraced Lowcountry attorney, 54, of murdering his wife, Margaret, 52, and son Paul, 22, in his hunting ground in rural Colleton County. in June 2021.
«That dog pound video that no one knew existed until months after the murders happened, it was basically Paul speaking from beyond the grave. Mind you, Alex Murdaugh was there moments before Maggie and Paul were brutally murdered. That was an important piece of the state’s case,» Wilson said.
In the case, the state presented Snapchat video evidence taken from Paul’s cell phone that located Murdaugh at the property’s kennel at 8:44 p.m. the night of the murders, countering his denial to investigators that he had last seen his family at dinner time. Paul and Margaret were killed between 8:50 p.m. and 9:06 p.m., according to investigators.
The attorney general said Murdaugh himself was the «biggest piece of evidence».
«When he took the stand, I think it was ultimately fatal for him,» Wilson said. «Alex had made a very successful career giving closing arguments to juries and winning big cases and making a lot of money.» his closing statement to the jury. I think in my mind that he believed that he could talk his way out of this. And at the end of the day, I think that’s what sealed it,» he said.
He explained that the state defended the plea at trial, arguing that Murdaugh was trying to elicit pity and divert attention from financial crimes that threatened to destroy his reputation, because people had a hard time understanding the brutality of the crime.
«One of the things I would get from people on the street… people can understand a spouse killing another spouse, but the way Paul and Maggie were killed, their son, the brutality of it, people just had a bad time.» take that leap,» Wilson explained.
«What you have is a family legacy that is over 100 years old, you have a man who has lived a privileged lifestyle in a world many of us will never know, and all of that was going to end eventually. And he was desperate.» , said. «He wasn’t killing his wife and son just for the money he didn’t earn, it was all, it was all a lifestyle and a life that was going to come to an end.»
Wilson said he believed Murdaugh probably loved his wife and son in his own way, «but he loved himself more. And killing them was the price he was willing to pay to preserve his way of life.»
Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison without parole. In addition to two counts of murder, the jury also convicted him of two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, which carry an additional five years in prison.
Sentencing in his case was expected to begin later on Friday morning.
Murdaugh’s lawyers filed for a mistrial after the verdicts were read. However, the motion was denied by the judge, who said that the verdict was a matter for the jury and that there was sufficient evidence to convict the disgraced lawyer.
«The evidence of guilt is overwhelming and I deny the motion,» Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman said.
The jury’s decision came after a trial that began in late January and included nearly six weeks of testimony from 75 witnesses, including Murdaugh.
Prosecutors said Murdaugh, who was disbarred last year on the charges, had been defrauding clients for years and had used the money in part to feed his addiction to pain pills. He had also been dealing with a lawsuit involving Paul, who at the time of his death was facing trial for three felony boating charges in connection with a 2019 boating accident that killed a teenage passenger.
The deaths of his wife and son halted the law firm’s investigation into Murdaugh’s alleged financial malfeasance and hampered the boating accident case in his favor, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
During closing arguments, the defense portrayed Murdaugh as a family man who was in a loving relationship with his wife and children.
Defense attorney Jim Griffin argued that the state had no direct evidence that his client carried out the murders before calling 911 on the night of the shooting, June 7, 2021, to say that he had found the bodies of his wife. and son near the kennels in their house. hunting.
Investigators testified that Paul had been shot twice with a shotgun, while Margaret had been shot multiple times with an AR-style rifle. No weapons were found, but officers said they used family firearm casings to match the murder weapons.
The prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence for much of their case to convince the jury that Murdaugh was guilty, using electronic data and video from the victims’ cell phones to suggest that he was the only person with the motive, means, and the chance to kill them.
“We had no doubt that if we were given the chance to make our case in a court of law, they would see through the latest scam that Alex Murdaugh was trying to pull, and they did,” Waters said Thursday, speaking after the audience. jury verdict.
Wilson said the case captivated the nation because of its complexity.
“You can’t write this story in Hollywood. It is a generational story. It goes back to the boat case. It goes back decades before that,” she said. “I want to remind people that as interesting as this case was, many lives were destroyed. Two people were brutally murdered and there is a trail of Alex Murdaugh victims leading up to this.»