Disgraced US lawyer Alex Murdaugh found guilty of killing wife and son

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Disgraced US lawyer Alex Murdaugh found guilty of killing wife and son

A powerful South Carolina lawyer has been found guilty of murdering his wife and son to distract from his multi-million dollar financial crimes.

The jury deliberated for less than three hours before convicting Alex Murdaugh, 54, of two counts of murder at the end of a six-week trial.

He faces 30 years to life in prison without parole for each murder charge.

Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot at close range near the dog kennels on their family estate on 7 June 2021.

Alex Murdaugh stood impassively as he learned his fate during Thursday evening’s hearing in Walterboro.

“Today’s verdict proves that no-one, no matter who you are in society, is above the law,” said South Carolina’s top prosecutor, Attorney General Alan Wilson.

The case – chronicling the downfall of a family born to power and privilege – has captivated the country, inspiring documentaries on Netflix and HBO.

Murdaugh was once an influential personal injury attorney in the state, and for decades until 2006 his family members had served as the leading prosecutors in the area. Such was their influence that the jurisdiction became known as “Murdaugh Country”.

But the trial heard that for years he had been stealing from his law partners and clients to feed an addiction to painkillers and an extravagant lifestyle.

Murdaugh had pleaded not guilty to killing his wife and youngest son in an attempt to conceal years of financial corruption – fraud that he himself had acknowledged in court.

After the 12-person jury’s verdict, dozens of spectators gathered outside the back of the court where officers ushered a handcuffed Murdaugh quickly into a black van.

Reporters shouted questions, though he remained silent. As police tucked him inside the vehicle, one man behind the media line shouted that he was praying for him.

Paul and his mother were killed at the kennels on the family’s sprawling hunting estate, known as Moselle.

For 20 months after their murders, Alex Murdaugh told law enforcement repeatedly he had not been at the dog kennels at all that evening, and was at home napping.

But in the Snapchat video filmed by Paul just minutes before the shootings, the defendant’s voice could be heard in the background.

On the stand at trial, Murdaugh admitted he had lied, saying his years-long addiction to painkillers had put him in a paranoid state.

The court also heard of Murdaugh’s bizarre attempt to stage his own death in an insurance fraud scheme just three months after he murdered his 52-year-old wife and 22-year-old son. The hitman he hired botched the shooting and the bullet only grazed his head.