What the Alex Murdaugh murder trial cost SC taxpayers
COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Alex Murdaugh murder trial has been dubbed “the trial of the century” and that monicker didn’t come without a hefty price tag.
Receipts show that nearly a half-million dollars was spent in taxpayer money to try the disgraced Lowcountry attorney to justice for the June 2021 murders of his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and their son, Paul Murdaugh.
It’s hard to say for sure, but the Murdaugh trial quite possibly is the largest expenditure the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office has made in prosecuting a case.
But former Attorney General Charlie Condon says the money was well-spent.
“The number might concern people. It might look high. But upon examination. I think it’s quite reasonable,” Condon said.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office does not usually track prosecution costs, nor does it have a budget for prosecution, spokesman Robert Kittle said, so it is difficult to know for sure.
However, the unique requirement for the 13-person team to travel to and stay in Colleton County for two months after the 14th circuit solicitor had recused himself accounted for most of the costs.
The office provided an itemized list of expenditures related to the six-week trial as well as salaries in response to a Live 5 Freedom of Information Act request.
The $488,000 price tag for the trial included $264,316 on Attorney General’s Office costs and roughly $141,000 in salaries for the team and costs from Colleton County, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The biggest costs were travel and lodging at the Hampton Inn, which added up to $192,000.
The salary costs are fixed, so they would have been paid no matter what was on the docket.
Prosecutors also spent another $64,000 on expert witnesses.
“I don’t think you should put a price tag on Justice,” Condon said. “Looking at these costs, I do think it’s another ‘feather in the cap’ for the state of South Carolina. Not only did they present a case really well and got a really good result, but they did it in a fiscally responsible manner. "
Expenditures from the Colleton County Courthouse are estimated to have been around $60,000, according to clerk of court Becky Hill.
The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office also spent $19,600 in overtime pay, plus another $3,471 to transport and house Alex Murdaugh during the duration of the trial.
In comparison, according to court records, the defense spent $518,000 on the trial and is still owed more than $600,000 in attorney’s fees.
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