COLUMBIA, SC –
South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was charged with murder Thursday following the deaths of his wife and young son, who were fatally shot outside their home more than a year ago.
Murdaugh has been jailed and faces dozens of criminal charges that have piled up in the months since his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, were killed. But so far he has not been charged in connection with the deaths of his wife and son.
The indictments brought by a grand jury in Colleton County, where the shooting took place, allege that Murdaugh killed his wife with a rifle and son with a shotgun. They did not include details of how police linked Murdaugh to the death after a 13-month investigation. More details could be released in a bond hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Murdaugh, 54, has repeatedly denied any role in the death, saying he was visiting his ailing mother and father and discovered his son and wife had been killed when he returned to his estate. surname.
“Alex wants his family, friends, and everyone to know that he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loves them more than anything in the world,” Murdaugh’s defense attorney Jim said. Griffin and Dick Harpootlian said in a statement. .
Murdaugh was also charged Thursday with possession of a weapon in a violent crime.
The Murdaugh family has dominated the legal field in small, neighboring Hampton County for nearly a century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were the district’s elected prosecutors for 87 years in a row.
Murdaugh, who worked for the centuries-old family-founded law firm, said in September that he was stealing money.
Throughout the investigation, state police have released several details about the case, and Thursday’s indictment was no exception. A joint statement from State Chief of Law Enforcement Mark Keel and State Attorney General Alan Wilson said they would not comment on specific evidence because the investigation is still active and a lawsuit is pending. .
“For the past 13 months, SLED agents and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against who is responsible for the murders of Maggie and Paul and rule out those who are not. . this investigation,” Keel said in the statement.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said it was “very clear from day one” that law enforcement was focusing on Murdaugh and no one else. They say they want his trial to be held in the next three months,
“We know that Alex did not have any motive to kill them,” the defense attorneys said.
If convicted of murder, Murdaugh faces 30 years in prison without parole. Prosecutors may also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person has been killed.
The death in June 2021 prompted authorities to look into every nook and cranny of Murdaugh’s life. At least a half-dozen investigations led to allegations that he stole US$8.5 million from his hires and that he lied to police by saying he was shot by a gunman. roadside stranger when, officials said, he actually asked a friend to kill him. he let his surviving son be able to collect a $10 million life insurance policy just days after the family company determined he was stealing money.
State police said the information they gathered during the Murdaugh investigations also led them to consider what was initially reported as the tragic death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith in Hampton County in July 2015, despite although they did not provide further details. .
Agents also exhumed the body of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s housekeeper, who the family said died in hospital days after the fall in 2018. Prosecutors said Murdaugh had asked the companies His home insurance paid more than $4 million in false death claims in Satterfield’s case by saying he was negotiating for her family but not giving them any money.
In June, Murdaugh was indicted in what prosecutors say was money laundering and eight-year pain relief involving the same friend and former client accused of trying to help him commit suicide.
Murdaugh wrote 437 checks for $2.4 million that his friend cashed over eight years, keeping some for himself and giving the rest to wide-ranging illegal activities , according to the indictment unsealed last month.
The South Carolina Supreme Court stripped Murdaugh of his rights on Tuesday, confirming the inevitable after Murdaugh’s attorneys refused to argue at a hearing in June.
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were shot multiple times between 9 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on June 7, 2021, outside their home on the family’s property near Islandton, authorities said. Their bodies were found near the dog’s kennel, according to Richard Harvey of Colleton County Coroner.
At the time, authorities reported that Alex Murdaugh had discovered the bodies and called 911. Murdaugh appeared extremely upset and agitated during the call, immediately identified and told the house. operating “his wife and children have been shot” on his property.
“I’ve already done that,” Murdaugh said. It sucks,” Murdaugh said.