Opening statements are expected to begin in Walterboro, South Carolina, in the trial of Alex Murdaugh, who has been charged with the 2021 murders of his wife and youngest son —the most serious and the grisliest of allegations faced by the once prominent, but now disbarred, attorney.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the killings on June 7, 2021. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, whose office is prosecuting the case, announced last month prosecutors would not seek the death penalty but life in prison without parole if Murdaugh is convicted.
Prosecutors accuse Murdaugh of committing the murders to distract attention from a series of alleged illicit schemes he was running to stave off “personal legal and financial ruin,” according to court filings. Evidence will show, the state claims, that Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes were “about to come to light” when his wife, Margaret, and 22-year-old son, Paul, were killed.
Murdaugh, who has denied involvement in their deaths, called 911 the night of the killings to report he’d found his wife and son shot dead on the family’s hunting estate. Murdaugh’s attorneys blasted prosecutors for the charges, issuing a statement addressed to family and friends saying he loved his wife and son “more than anything in the world.”
Other legal trouble: Separate from the murder charges, Murdaugh faces 99 charges stemming from 19 grand jury indictments for various crimes, according to the state attorney general’s office, including allegedly defrauding his clients and former law firm of nearly $9 million. Just last month, the AG’s office announced Murdaugh had been indicted for tax evasion for failing to report almost $7 million of income earned through illegal acts, for which he allegedly owes the state almost $500,000.