Attorneys for ex-lawyer Alex Murdaugh reasserted their client’s presumed innocence on the eve of his double-murder trial.
“In order to preserve the integrity of the trial process, our team will not be providing any further statements or responses to anything that occurs at trial, which commences with jury selection tomorrow, Monday, January 23,” Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said in a statement released Sunday. “We are fully prepared to challenge the State’s allegations, and to demonstrate the weaknesses in the State’s case before a Colleton County jury. Alex looks forward to this opportunity to clear his name of these heinous charges so that the Attorney General can finally begin looking for the actual killer or killers of Alex’s beloved wife and son.”
Jury selection begins Monday in South Carolina. Law&Crime will cover the trial.
Defendant Murdaugh shot and killed both his wife Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh and their son Paul Murdaugh on the family property, a palatial 1,770-acre hunting lodge that locals refer to as “Moselle.” Authorities say he lied to investigators by claiming the deaths were tied to his slain son’s tragic past: Paul Murdaugh allegedly drove a boat while drunk and got into an accident, killing his friend Mallory Beach. Prosecutors say that Alex Murdaugh later hired a former client, Curtis Edward Smith, to shoot him in the head so that Murdaugh’s surviving son would get insurance money, though the injury wasn’t fatal.
Murdaugh, whose family held the position of 14th Circuit Solicitor for almost a century, is now disbarred as an attorney.
As far as prosecutors are concerned, defendant Murdaugh’s actions were the heinous conclusion to a morass of corruption and greed. Facing “personal, legal and financial ruin,” he killed his wife and their son.
“The jury will need to understand the distinction between who Alex Murdaugh appeared to be to the outside world — a successful lawyer and scion of the most prominent family in the region — and who he was in the real life only he fully knew – an allegedly crooked lawyer and drug user who borrowed and stole whatever he could to stay afloat and one step ahead of detection,” State Grand Jury Section Chief Attorney Creighton Waters previously wrote. “Proof of years of Alex Murdaugh’s unbroken series of misappropriations, lies, loans, debts, and thefts is necessary to explain that distinction to a jury. Only then can a jury understand that the clouds of Defendant’s past were gathering into a perfect storm that was going to expose the real Alex Murdaugh to the world — and which would mean facing real accountability for his life.”
Prosecutors are seeking life in prison without parole.
In 911 audio from June 7, 2021, defendant Murdaugh claimed he found the victims dead.
“My wife and child were shot badly,” he said.
Neither Maggie nor Paul were breathing or moving. Asked by a dispatcher not to touch them, defendant Murdaugh said he had touched them to see if they were breathing.
The defense has attacked the state’s assertion that he got blood on his shirt from high-velocity impact spatter. They maintain that any blood that got there was from when he “frantically checked them for signs of life.”
Colin Kalmbacher and Angenette Levy contributed to this report.
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