For a yr and a half, Alex Murdaugh denied he was wherever close to the place his spouse, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, have been brutally killed.
But it surely was one among his victims – his son – who would supply key proof after his demise that authorized specialists say uncovered his father’s internet of lies and in the end led to his conviction within the double murder.
“It’s ironic, in the long run, that it was the sufferer, Paul Murdaugh, who solved his personal homicide,” Dave Aronberg, state legal professional for Florida’s Palm Seaside County, instructed CNN Thursday evening.
Murdaugh, a now disgraced former South Carolina legal professional, was discovered responsible Thursday of fatally taking pictures his spouse and son and, a day later, was sentenced to life in jail with out the potential of parole. He has maintained his innocence.
The important thing proof got here from a video, which Paul recorded moments earlier than he was gunned down and killed. It appeared to point out one of many household’s canines close to the kennels on their property. It additionally captured Alex Murdaugh’s voice within the background – and positioned him on the scene of the crime.
The video, which Murdaugh didn’t know existed earlier than the trial, marked the crumbling of his alibi and left him no selection however to take the stand and clarify why he lied a number of instances to authorities about his whereabouts, authorized specialists instructed CNN.
Murdaugh, whereas denying he killed his spouse and son, testified he lied about the place he was due to paranoid ideas stemming from his yearslong drug dependancy to opioid painkillers, in addition to his mistrust of investigators. Whereas on the stand, he additionally confessed to extra lies, admitting in court docket he had stolen thousands and thousands from his regulation agency and purchasers over roughly twenty years.
He instructed the jury that regardless of his repeated previous deceptions, he was sincere about one factor: he didn’t kill his household.
However jurors didn’t imagine him.
And in a case with little to no direct proof linking Murdaugh to the scene, South Carolina’s prime prosecutor credited the video clip for the fast conviction by the jury.
“This was a circumstantial proof case however what folks have to know is that circumstantial proof is simply as highly effective as direct proof,” South Carolina Legal professional Common Alan Wilson, who was a part of the prosecuting crew, mentioned Friday. “I believe the kennel video hung him.”
“The jury noticed how he was attempting to control them, noticed how he was mendacity and so they learn by means of it, and so they heard the kennel video and so they made the fitting choice.”
Craig Moyer, one of many jurors who helped convict Murdaugh, instructed ABC Information in his first public interview that it took lower than an hour for the group to succeed in a unanimous choice.
The video is what satisfied him.
“I might hear his voice clearly,” Moyer instructed ABC. “And everyone else might too.”
Moyer mentioned he was shocked Murdaugh admitted he lied in regards to the video, however, he added, he nonetheless didn’t imagine the defendant was being truthful about what occurred on the evening of June 7, 2021.
Murdaugh was “a very good liar,” Moyer mentioned, “however not adequate.”
“When he took the stand – that’s, Alex Murdaugh – that was his alternative to state his declare. It was a really laborious promote, nevertheless,” mentioned prison protection legal professional and CNN Authorized Analyst Joey Jackson. “As a lot as you deny, deny, deny being on the kennels, you took the stand as a result of it got here out that you simply have been there. Mobile phone information put you there, automobile information put you there, along with the truth that your personal voice put you there, by advantage of what your son recorded.”
“I believe by advantage of what that juror mentioned, clearly he was of the view that … (Alex Murdaugh) was persevering with to lie, the proof was clear and that he was responsible,” Jackson added.
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The video was recorded by Paul at 8:44 p.m. on the evening of the killings, in line with testimony in the course of the trial.
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey testified he estimated Maggie and Paul’s time of demise to be round 9 p.m. – although he mentioned it’s potential the pair might have been shot any time between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.
After admitting he lied to authorities about the place he was that evening, Murdaugh mentioned he did briefly go to the kennels and left roughly round 8:47 p.m.
He later visited his mom and located Maggie and Paul’s our bodies when he returned house, Murdaugh testified.
Murdaugh instructed the court docket that as his longtime dependancy advanced, it usually brought about him to enter “paranoid pondering.” These paranoid ideas have been triggered on the evening of the homicides, he mentioned, when investigators examined his palms for gunshot residue and requested him about his relationship together with his spouse and son. Murdaugh claimed that was why he lied.
“All these issues, coupled collectively after discovering them, coupled with my mistrust for (the South Carolina Legislation Enforcement Division) brought about me to have paranoid ideas,” he testified. “I wasn’t pondering clearly. I don’t suppose I used to be able to motive. And I lied about being there, and I’m so sorry that I did.”
“As soon as I instructed the lie, I instructed my household, I needed to hold mendacity,” he instructed the court docket.
Former prosecutor Sarah Ford instructed CNN that Murdaugh “actually had no selection aside from to take the stand and make clear” the video on the kennel.
“And the jury didn’t purchase that clarification. He was mendacity lengthy earlier than he walked into that courtroom, lengthy earlier than he took the stand and that jury believed that he was mendacity to them on that stand,” Ford mentioned.
After his sentence, Murdaugh was launched to the South Carolina Division of Corrections.
He was processed Friday night at a reception and analysis middle in Columbia, the division mentioned in a information launch. As a part of that course of, he had his head shaved, a typical process for inmates processed into the system, division spokesperson Chrysti Shain mentioned.
Murdaugh will subsequent endure medical assessments and a psychological well being and schooling evaluation, the discharge added.
Over the subsequent month and a half, division officers will keep in mind the outcomes of his assessments and assessments in addition to his crime and sentence in deciding which maximum-security jail he might be despatched to, the division mentioned.
Correction: A earlier model of this story misstated which video captured Alex Murdaugh’s voice. It was a video taken on Paul Murdaugh’s telephone on the household’s canine kennels.