A South Carolina jury has found once-prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh guilty on all counts in the deaths of his wife and son.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours before convicting him on two counts of murder and two counts of using a weapon during the commission of a violent crime. Murdaugh showed little emotion as the verdicts were read.
Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday.
The 54-year-old took the stand in his own defense. He was found guilty of using a rifle to kill his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and a shotgun to kill his son Paul, 22. They died on the night of June 7, 2021, at the family's sprawling Moselle hunting estate in South Carolina's Lowcountry region.
Before he was disbarred, Murdaugh was an influential attorney in South Carolina and belongs to one of the most prominent families in the state.
He faces a sentence of 30 years to life in prison for each murder conviction. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty.
"Justice was done today," prosecutor Creighton Waters said after the verdict. "It doesn't matter who your family is. It doesn't matter how much money you have or people think you have. It doesn't matter what you think how prominent you are. If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be done in South Carolina."
Judge Clifton Newman described the evidence of guilt in the case against Murdaugh as "overwhelming" and denied a request from the defense to declare a mistrial.
The judge's comments concluded the six-week trial, which captivated South Carolina — and the nation. Media coverage included live broadcasts of the trial itself, true crime podcasts and a docuseries on Netflix.
Murdaugh admitted to lying about his alibi, but insisted he did not kill his wife and son.
Earlier in the day, Murdaugh's defense team made its final bid to prevent him from spending decades in prison, delivering their closing argument in the trial of the disbarred South Carolina attorney charged in the murders of his wife and son.
A defense attorney for Murdaugh sought to sow doubt about the work by police and forensics teams, saying they fell far short of preserving evidence from the crime scene. Murdaugh's lies and revisions to his alibi stemmed from paranoia induced by his opiate addiction, the defense insisted.
In response, the prosecution urged the jurors to pay attention to "common sense" and "facts," after hearing an abundance of testimony about Murdaugh's character.
Prosecutors said the once influential lawyer lied to those close to him when he stole millions of dollars from his colleagues and clients and — in an act of desperation, as his financial pressures were mounting — fooled his wife and son, too, when he killed them.
Murdaugh's defense says investigators fabricated evidence
Defense attorney Jim Griffin said law enforcement was biased against Alex Murdaugh from early on — adding that they later fabricated evidence against him. Pulling at threads of the prosecution's case, Griffin said state investigators "failed miserably in investigating this case."
Had the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED, done a "competent job" of gathering evidence, Griffin said, Murdaugh would have been excluded from the list of potential suspects long ago.
"Unless we find somebody else, it's gonna be Alex," Griffin said, giving his version of investigators' thinking. Saying his client's opioid habit made him "an easy target for SLED," Griffin added. "They started fabricating evidence against Alex."
SLED took samples from Alex Murdaugh's clothes, but they never took DNA samples off Maggie and Paul's clothes, Griffin said. Once investigators seized on the idea that tests showed high-velocity blood spatter on Alex Murdaugh's T-shirt, he added, they refused to dismiss that idea and pursued it "with vengeance."
But when the state was faced with mixed results and questions over tests of Murdaugh's shirt, Griffin said, they embraced a "Mr. Clean theory," which purported that Murdaugh committed the grisly murders, quickly washed himself off with a hose and got into a golf cart "butt-naked, I guess," to drive back to the house, before leaving to visit his mother.
Griffin accused the agency of a list of failures, saying the state never explained if tests were performed on hair he said was found in Maggie's fingers. He also faulted the way Maggie's phone was secured after it was found on June 8, accusing investigators of not preventing the device from continuously pinging GPS locations — which, he said, eventually overwrote data from the night of the murders.
As for the lies Murdaugh admitted telling, Griffin said his client lied because "that's what addicts do." He added that Murdaugh had "a closet full of skeletons" that he didn't want exposed.