Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh admitted he is haunted by the memory of the wife and son he murdered as he was given two life sentences Friday morning.
Before reading the sentence, Judge Clifton Newman said to Murdaugh: “I know you have to see Paul and Maggie during the nighttime when you’re attempting to go to sleep… and reflect on the last time they looked you in the eyes,”
“All day and every night,” the fallen patriarch, 54, admitted at the Colleton County Courthouse in Waterboro.
Murdaugh was found guilty on Thursday night of callously gunning down wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, in cold-blooded executions at the family’s estate on June, 7, 2021.
During the trial, the court heard extremely graphic testimony about how Maggie had been shot five times, twice in the head, and Paul had been blasted with a shotgun, exploding his skull and splattering brain all over the dog kennels.
The judge’s measured but unpitying address to Murdaugh was underscored by the death of his own son, former Columbia councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman, on Jan. 5.
Murdaugh, who was stone faced in court, continued to deny the verdict and told the unimpressed judge he would “never hurt” his wife and son.
While Newman, 71, said he understood the state’s decision not to pursue the death penalty, he commented on the weight of Murdaugh’s conviction and sentence in light of his family’s historic influence in the Low Country courts.
“As I sit here in this courtroom and look at the portraits of many judges and court officials…your family, including you, have been prosecuting people in this courtroom and many [defendants] have received the death penalty, probably for lesser conduct,” he said.
Before the trial started in January, a portrait of Murdaugh’s late grandfather, Randolph “Buster” Murdaugh Jr., was removed from the courtroom, Newman said, explaining that he did not want it to affect the jury.
“You’ve practiced law before me, and we’ve seen each other at various occasions throughout the years,” Newman told Murdaugh.
“[The murderer] might’ve been the monster you become when you take…opioid pills. Maybe you become another person,” he continued, referring to the convicted killer’s admitted drug addiction.
Newman also slammed the troubled scion’s pattern of “duplicitous conduct” both in court and during the investigation.
“Appeals are probably or absolutely expected, [but] I would not expect a confession [from you] of any kind,” he said.
Before Newman’s lengthy address, prosecutor Creighton Waters called for the maximum sentence, arguing that there was “overwhelming evidence” that Murdaugh was a “cunning manipulator” who killed his wife and child out of selfishness.
“No one who thought they were close to this man could see who he really was, and that’s chilling,” Waters told the court.
Murdaugh, dressed in a dark khaki prison jumpsuit, socks, and sandals, was supported in court by his surviving son, Buster, 26, and his younger brother, John Marvin Murdaugh.
Buster, who testified on his father’s behalf, appeared emotionless as the sentence was read. John Murdaugh was slightly more emotional, and blinked several times while tightening his jaw.
Within moments of learning his fate, Murdaugh was escorted from the courtroom in silence.
In addition to the murder convictions, he is still awaiting trial for a host of financial crimes, the total prison sentence for which could amount to over 700 years.
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