COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. – Jury selection starts Monday in the trial of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, who has been charged with murdering his wife and son in 2021.
Murdaugh, 54, has adamantly denied the allegations. He called 911 on the night of June 7, 2021, after finding his wife, 52-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and his son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, shot dead at the family’s home in Islandton. Maggie had been killed with a rifle and Paul with a shotgun, authorities said.
Murdaugh did not answer shouted questions as authorities escorted him into the Colleton County Courthouse on Monday, according to WYFF.
Prosecutors argued that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to gain cover and sympathy as he committed a host of other financial crimes, the AP and The Post and Courier reported. Murdaugh faces nearly 100 other charges in addition to murder. Among the allegations, prosecutors have accused him of stealing millions of dollars from his clients and attempting to arrange for someone to kill him to allow his surviving son to collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh’s attorneys have argued that the motive offered by prosecutors makes no sense and that charges instead stemmed from public pressure to solve the case, according to the AP and The Post and Courier. They have argued against allowing prosecutors to present evidence about their client’s other alleged crimes, saying that they are unrelated and would only serve to smear Murdaugh for the jury, according to The Post and Courier.
Prosecutors last year said they had substantial evidence linking Murdaugh to his wife and son’s murders, although they did not elaborate.
The Murdaugh family has long been influential in southwest South Carolina, where members of the family have served as elected prosecutors for decades. Last month, Judge Clifton Newman ordered that a portrait of Alex Murdaugh’s grandfather hanging in the courtroom where the 54-year-old is set to be tried be taken down, WCSC-TV reported.
Remember this? It’s Murdaugh’s grandfather’s portrait that hangs in the courtroom where he’ll be tried for double murder. The judge has ordered it to be taken down. @Live5News pic.twitter.com/RoilHRdWr6
— Blair Sabol-Live 5 News (@BlairSabolTV) December 9, 2022
Alex Murdaugh previously served as a part-time prosecutor for the state’s five-county 14th Judicial Court. He also worked for a personal injury attorney at his family’s prominent law firm.