WALTERBORO, S.C. (AP) — Alex Murdoff, the disgraced South Carolina attorney convicted Thursday of shooting and killing his wife and son, capped the unsolved tale of a powerful Southern family with tales of privilege, greed and addiction .
The jury deliberated for less than three hours before convicting Murdo on two counts of murder at the end of a six-week trial.
Murdo, 54, faces up to 30 years in prison without parole at sentencing, which in South Carolina usually occurs immediately after the verdict, but could be delayed if a judge chooses.
A defense attorney for Alex Murdo said Thursday that state agents were so determined to convict the disgraced South Carolina attorney in the murder of his wife and son that he lied or falsified evidence. Presented.
At the end of final arguments, the judge turned Murdaugh’s fate to the jurors after giving his final instructions, and they went to their jury rooms to begin deliberations.
Attorney Jim Griffin concluded the defense by emphasizing Murdoff’s main point—that investigators focused solely on him and did the investigation so poorly that fingerprints or possible DNA on Maggie’s or Paul Murdoff’s clothing could not be found. No evidence pointing to anyone else was ever gathered.
“How could he have killed Maggie and Paul in a matter of minutes without leaving a trail of evidence?” Griffin said.
If convicted, Murdaugh, 54, could face up to 30 years to life in prison. Investigators said his 22-year-old son, Paul, was shot twice with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, was shot four or five times with a rifle on June 7 in the doghouse on their rural Colleton County property. was outside , 2021.
After Griffin spoke, the prosecution got the last word with rebuttal arguments.
Prosecutor John Meadors said, “You can’t answer every question, and the law doesn’t require it.”
Investigators find that Murdo had more than 17 minutes of sleep between the time his wife and son stopped using his cellphone, and the time he left the property to visit his ailing mother. was not.
Experts on both sides agreed that there should be a significant amount of blood, tissue and other material from the murders, but the prosecution presented no evidence of bloodstains on the clothing. Weapons were also never found in the case.
Griffin said, “He had 17 minutes. He would have to be a magician to make all the evidence disappear.”
No one tried to look for DNA on the victims’ clothing, which a killer might have left behind. Griffin said that no one tried to see if fingerprints or shoe prints could be taken from the blood around Paul Murdo and matched to the potential killer.
Prosecutors believe Alex Murdo killed his wife and son because he feared being exposed for years of stealing millions of dollars from his law firm and clients and his high standing in the community. He said he hoped her death would make him a more sympathetic figure and draw attention away from the missing money.
Motive is not an essential element to prove guilt. But Los Angeles-based trial attorney Rachel Fisset said the prosecution has painstakingly aimed to resolve the question that was on the juror’s mind.
Fiset said, “I don’t think there can be a conviction without answering the question of why Alex Murdoff would kill his family.”
A key piece of evidence for prosecutors is a video that includes the voices of Murdaugh, his wife and son in the kennel minutes before he was killed by investigators. The video wasn’t discovered for a year because agents initially couldn’t hack into her son’s iPhone.
For 20 months, Alex Mudoff told everyone he wasn’t at the kennels, but testifying in his own defense, he finally admitted he was there.
Griffin said, “He lied because that’s what junkies do. He lied because he has a closet full of skeletons.”
Prosecutors said Murdaugh lied—to the people he was stealing from, to the police about a key fact of their investigation, to his family about his drug use, and even to that order. In which he checked his wife and son for signs of life, who was the first to be checked in separate police interviews.
Griffin said this showed the state wanted to convict Murdoff at all costs, referring to prosecutors’ closing argument where they said the evidence showed Maggie Murdoff died while running to see her son.
“Alex was running to his baby. Can you imagine what he saw?” Griffin said. “And is it evidence of guilt that he doesn’t remember what the indexing was at that time?”
Griffin said that his time as a prosecutor pained him to say that the state law enforcement division fabricated or lied about evidence.
The lead agent in the case said on the stand that he told the grand jury that Murdaugh was indicted 13 months after the deaths, that the T-shirt Murdaugh was wearing when police arrived had splattered with high-velocity blood from his son. , which occurs when someone is shot at close range.
But other agents on the case had already reported further testing on the shirt showed no blood on it, and the shirt was never mentioned by the prosecution at trial.
Meadors said law enforcement is not on trial, Murdaugh is.
The prosecutor said he was upset that Murdo’s defense was claiming that law enforcement “didn’t do its job, while he is stalling and obstructing justice by not saying, ‘I’m in Kennel’.” I was downstairs.'”
And there was the matter of the blue rain jacket, which state agents said was covered with gunshot residue when it was found in Murdaugh’s mother’s home. Investigators theorized that Murdaugh had wrapped guns in it to hide on his parents’ property, but Murdaugh’s family did not recognize it and it was not their size.
Griffin ended his closing argument with a plea to the jury.
Griffin said, “On behalf of Alex, on behalf of Buster, on behalf of Maggie and on behalf of my friend Paul, I respectfully ask you not to connect one family tragedy with another.”
Earlier on Thursday, Judge Clifton Newman removed a juror because he discussed the case with others. Five jurors had to be replaced during the six-week trial, leaving the jury with only one choice during deliberations, which began at 3:50 p.m. (EST) on Thursday.
Newman had a pleasant conversation with the jurors on Thursday. He asked her if she needed bailiffs to retrieve any of her items from the jury room. She said she had her purse and a dozen eggs that a fellow juror brought from his farm for each juror.
Fiset said the lone alternate juror marks an alarming development given the risk of illness posed by COVID-19. In a case with little direct evidence, she expects longer deliberations – and longer periods for members to remain healthy.
“They are one person away from this jury being a mistrial,” Fiset said.
Get more AP coverage of the case: https://apnews.com/hub/alex-murdaugh