Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison on Friday, a day after the once-prominent attorney was found guilty of murdering his wife and son.
Judge Clifton Newman handed down the ruling after a jury convicted Murdaugh on two counts of murder for shooting his wife, Maggie, and son Paul in 2021 at the family’s hunting property in Islandton, South Carolina. Prosecutors said Murdaugh killed his family members in an attempt to gain sympathy and keep a bevy of financial crimes from being exposed.
Murdaugh spoke briefly before his sentencing, saying, “I’m innocent. I would never hurt my wife Maggie, and I would never hurt my son [Paul].”
He had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, but prosecutors showed he had lied about being at the scene of the crime just minutes before his wife and son were killed. Murdaugh admitted he lied about being at his estate’s dog kennels, where the shootings took place, but said he left the pair and returned to find them dead.
The jury rejected that claim, reaching a guilty verdict on both counts of murder and two counts of possessing a deadly weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
The six-week trial rocked the state. The powerful Murdaugh family has been a legal dynasty in the Deep South for generations, with members controlling a regional prosecutor’s office for more than 80 years and running a powerful law firm in the area.
“Today’s verdict proves that no one, no one — no matter who you are in society — is above the law,” South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said after the verdict was delivered Thursday.
The minimum sentence for murder in South Carolina is 30 years in prison. Prosecutors had said they would seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole before Newman’s decision was rendered.
Murdaugh can appeal the ruling.
He is still awaiting trial for a series of financial crimes he admitted to while on the stand in his murder case, as well as charges of insurance fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.
Murdaugh was disbarred last summer. Prosecutors have charged him with stealing nearly $9 million.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Murdaugh was sentenced to concurrent terms; the terms are consecutive.