‘It might have been the monster you become’: Judge sentences Alex Murdaugh
Murdaugh defense team to hold news conference on sentence
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - The judge in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial has passed his sentence a day after a jury convicted the disbarred Lowcountry attorney of murdering his wife and son.
Judge Clifton Newman asked Murdaugh, 54, if he had anything he wanted to say before sentencing him to two consecutive life terms, and the South Carolina attorney maintained his innocence.
“As I tell you again, I respect this court. But I am innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul-Paul,” Murdaugh responded.
“And it might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become,” when taking large amounts of opiates, Newman replied, noting Murdaugh’s decadeslong addiction to painkillers.
As Murdaugh stood before the judge to learn his fate, he was in the same courtroom on the circuit where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years. His grandfather’s portrait hung in the back of the room until the judge ordered it taken down for the trial.
Defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin are expected to hold a news conference at approximately 11:45 a.m. on the judge’s ruling.
“You have a wife who has been killed, murdered. A son savagely murdered. A lawyer, a person from a respected family who has controlled justice in this community for over a century. A person whose grandfather’s portrait hangs at the back of the courthouse that I had to have ordered removed in order to insure a fair trial,” Newman told Murdaugh.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said none of the victims of the crime — members of Murdaugh’s family and the parents and relatives of his wife — wished to speak on behalf of the prosecution before sentencing.
“The depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes are stunning. The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he is, including here, sitting right over there in this witness stand — your honor, a man like that, a man like this man, should never be allowed to be among free, law abiding citizens,” Waters said.
Prosecutors asked for a life sentence to hold Murdaugh responsible for what they say are decades of lying, stealing and using his family’s considerable clout in their tiny county to his advantage. Any sentence would have no chance of parole.
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
After the defense finished its closing arguments and the state finished its rebuttal, Judge Clifton Newman read specific instructions to the jury and sent them to deliberations at approximately 3:50 p.m. They notified the court at approximately 6:41 p.m., just less than three hours later that they had reached a verdict.
Murdaugh faces 30 years to life in prison for each of the two murder charges and up to five years for both weapons charges.
After the verdicts were published, Newman denied a defense motion for a mistrial.
Copyright 2023 WCSC the Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.