Alex Murdaugh sentenced to life in prison for murder of wife and son

Disgraced lawyer showed little emotion and continued to maintain his innocence

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Disgraced US lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Friday after he was convicted of killing his wife and son in a case that garnered national attention.

A South Carolina jury on Thursday found Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife, Maggie, and their youngest son, Paul, at their sprawling South Carolina estate in June 2021. He was also found guilty of two firearms charges.

Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murders.

Wearing a beige jail jumpsuit inside the courtroom on Friday morning, Murdaugh maintained his innocence.

“I’m innocent. I would never hurt my son Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paul,” Murdaugh told Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman before sentencing.

Prosecutor Creighton Waters asked the judge to impose two consecutive life sentences for Murdaugh.

“The depravity the callousness of selfishness of these crimes are stunning. The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he lies including here, sitting right over there, in this little space,” Mr Waters said.

The jury deliberated for less than three hours after a six-week trial that involved evidence from dozens of witnesses and a visit to the Moselle estate, the former Murdaugh property that was the scene of the crime.

Juror Craig Moyer told ABC News that the mobile phone video was a crucial piece of evidence for the jury's decision. Mr Moyer said that when deliberations began, nine of the 12 jurors thought Murdaugh was guilty. He said it did not take long to convince the other three.

Mr Newman on Thursday said he believed the jury had made the right decision, saying: “The evidence of guilt is overwhelming.”

Murdaugh took the stand in the trial, in which he denied killing his wife and son. The former lawyer said he discovered their bodies at the estate's dog kennels, with his wife shot five times with a rifle and Paul killed by a shotgun blast.

The area on the Murdaugh estate where the bodies of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh were found. AP

Prosecutors sought to characterise Murdaugh as a serial liar and accused him of killing his wife and son to distract authorities from his financial crimes.

But the defence said investigators had failed to pursue other possible suspects, including Murdaugh's drug suppliers and people angry over his son's involvement in the 2019 boating death of a teenage girl.

It is “totally illogical, irrational and insane … for somebody to kill their loved ones when their criminal conduct is being exposed”, Murdaugh lawyer Jim Griffin told the jury.

But a video captured by Paul moments before the murders contained a recording of Murdaugh's voice, showing he was at the dog kennels about five minutes before the shootings.

Mr Newman denied the defence team's request for a mistrial.

In a separate case that has yet to go trial, Murdaugh faces 99 charges linked to his alleged financial crimes.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: March 03, 2023, 3:56 PM