Alex Murdaugh, a disgraced legal scion, received two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife and son at the family’s hunting estate on June 7, 2021.
The prosecution did not seek the death penalty, as they relied on circumstantial evidence, according to Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh’s defense attorney and a Democratic State Senator.
Harpootlian suggested that seeking the death penalty would have hindered the prosecution, as it would have allowed the defense to individually question jurors. Moreover, prosecutors would have had to prove an ‘aggravating circumstance’ to pursue the death penalty, which was not present in this case.
Harpootlian and his colleague Jim Griffin held a press conference after the trial and vowed to fight the murder conviction. Despite the unanimous verdict reached in less than three hours, Harpootlian insisted that Murdaugh is innocent and said that they had no regrets about putting him on the stand. The defense plans to file a motion arguing for a mistrial within ten days.
During the trial, prosecutors portrayed Murdaugh as a serial liar and argued that only he had the means and the opportunity to commit the murders. On the other hand, Murdaugh’s lawyers tried to paint their client as a loving family man who, while facing financial difficulties and suffering from a drug addiction that led him to lie and steal, would never harm his wife and child.
They floated alternative theories, with Murdaugh testifying that he believed someone angry over a deadly 2019 boating accident involving his son likely sought revenge.
The judge criticized Murdaugh’s ‘duplicitous conduct’ throughout the trial and called him a ‘monster’ before handing down the sentence. He also referenced Murdaugh’s addiction to opioids, which his defense attorneys sought to use as an excuse for his behavior.
Murdaugh plans to appeal the verdict all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the judge’s decision to allow testimony about all his financial misdeeds unfairly undermined his credibility with the jury.
The prosecution’s strongest evidence was Murdaugh’s admission that he had lied about his alibi, telling investigators he wasn’t at the dog kennels where the murders took place on the family estate.
Murdaugh changed his account after the jury listened to audio evidence placing him at the crime scene minutes before the murders occurred.
The judge spoke about what may have been running through Murdaugh’s mind on the night of the killings, as he faced a ‘looming storm’ that included his father on his death bed and his son facing charges in the death of a 19-year-old girl killed in a 2019 boat crash.»Alex Murdaugh avoids death penalty as prosecutors rely on circumstantial evidence«