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Alex Murdaugh sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering his wife and younger son

Jurors in South Carolina deliberated for about three hours Thursday before returning a guilty verdict against the disgraced former lawyer.

What to know about Alex Murdaugh's sentencing

Here's what's next for Murdaugh

The South Carolina Department of Corrections will process Murdaugh at the Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center, part of the state prison in the state capital, Columbia.

He will undergo medical tests, mental health and education assessments, and other evaluations in a process that takes about 45 days, the department said.

He will then be assigned a specific custody level and transported to one of the department's maximum-security prisons for inmates serving life sentences.

During the trial, Murdaugh was being held on bond at the Richland County Jail on financial crimes charges related to the embezzling of money from clients.

Defense criticizes SLED's handling of the crime scene

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"What effort are you making to find the real killer?" a reporter asked Murdaugh's defense attorneys.

Harpootlian responded that it was not the defense's job to find the perpetrator. He also said he had no faith in the real killer being found, due to how how he said SLED investigators poorly managed the crime scene and forensic evidence.

“If they had taken fingerprints, if they had gotten footprints, if they hadn’t destroyed — if they had preserved Maggie’s phone with her GPS. They misrepresented to the grand jury that they had a shirt with his blood on it. If Owens had opened his email, he says he didn’t get, it would’ve told him a year before that there was no human blood on that T-shirt. It was a comedy of errors in terms of forensics on this," he said.

"Do I have faith they’d find the real killer? No."

Newman rebukes Murdaugh during his sentencing as the ‘monster you’ve become’

Before he gave Murdaugh two consecutive life sentences for murdering his wife and younger son, Newman admonished the former lawyer for his lack of remorse and said he must reckon with his conscience and the “monster you’ve become.”

“Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand ... ‘Oh, what tangled web we weave.’ What did you mean by that?” Newman asked Friday in a packed Colleton County Courthouse.

“I meant when I lied,” Murdaugh, 54, said. “I continue to lie.”

Murdaugh spoke in court only briefly and did not address his role in what happened to his wife, Margaret, and their younger son, Paul, when they were fatally shot June 7, 2021, at the family’s estate.

He has proclaimed his innocence since a grand jury indicted him in the murders last year, and prosecutors alleged he killed them to gain pity before being exposed for a slew of financial crimes.

Read the full story here.

Why Buster Murdaugh didn't speak at his dad's sentencing

Griffin said Murdaugh's older son, Buster, did not speak on his father's behalf at the sentencing because the team didn't want to put him through more trauma.

"We could have Mother Teresa speaking up there on behalf of Alex on sentencing" and it wouldn't have made a difference, Griffin told reporters, because Newman is a "very stringent punisher when it comes to crimes and sentences."

Murdaugh's lie about alibi was 'damning,' his lawyer says

A video clip — a vital piece of the state's evidence taken from the cellphone of Paul before his death — proved that Murdaugh was at the crime scene after he had repeatedly insisted to investigators that he was not.

In response to the video, Murdaugh admitted on the stand last week that he lied about being at the family kennels in the minutes before the murders.

"How damning was the lie about the kennel video?" NBC News' Craig Melvin asked the defense team.

"Damning," Harpootlian said.

"Extremely," Griffin added.

"You know, we were looking for a way to get around the, we call it, 'the lie,'" he said. "How do you get around it? How do you explain it? And apparently, he didn't."

NBC is airing a special “Dateline” episode about the Murdaugh trial at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT tonight.

Defense plans to appeal Murdaugh's conviction

Murdaugh's defense lawyers said they will appeal his double murder conviction after a jury found him guilty in the deaths of his wife and younger son.

In an interview with NBC News' Craig Melvin, Griffin said the appeal is just "one step in the process."

"You know, we're very, very disappointed, Craig," Griffin said. "You know, we came in here hoping we could get a fair trial. You know, there's so much media spotlight on the Murdaugh Lowcountry dynasty. And frankly during the course of the trial, you know, Netflix aired their documentary during the weeks of the trial."

Murdaugh has "a very strong appeal," he added. "We respect the judge’s rulings. But that's why we have appellate courts."

There are no winners today, SLED chief says after the sentencing

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"Today is not the end. It's the next step in a long road to justice for every person who has been victimized by Alex Murdaugh," S.C. Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said after Murdaugh's sentencing.

"I’m here to provide a voice for Maggie and Paul. I’m here to recognize the heart-wrenching journey that that family and friends of Maggie and Paul have endured," he said.

Murdaugh's legal team to speak following his sentencing

Murdaugh's defense team, led by veteran lawyers Richard "Dick" Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, are expected to make their first public statements at 11:45 a.m. in front of the Colleton County Courthouse.

The defense has not spoken to the media since Murdaugh was convicted of murdering his wife and younger son Thursday evening.

As he left the courthouse Thursday, Harpootlian said, "We are obviously disappointed."

Court is adjourned

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The almost six-week-long double murder trial that captured nationwide and global attention — a saga of fraudulent crimes, deaths and lies — has come to an end. Jurors were escorted out of the courtroom as spectators, the media and family members rose from their seats.

“Our business is done here in Colleton County,” Newman said as he banged the gavel.

Murdaugh still faces dozens of financial crimes charges

While Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the double murders of his wife and son, it likely won't be his last time in court.

The disbarred lawyer still faces at least 99 financial-related crimes in 19 different indictments tied to stealing from his law clients over several years.

Murdaugh admitted to various financial crimes when he took the stand in his defense last week. During the trial, he was being held on a $7 million bond for the financial charges.

Murdaugh sentenced to life in prison without parole

Murdaugh is punished with the maximum sentence of life in prison without parole for the fatal shootings of his wife, Margaret, and their younger son, Paul.

For a separate charge of two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, he is not sentenced because of the life sentence.


Judge to Murdaugh: 'When will the lies end?'

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Earlier in Murdaugh's testimony, the disgraced lawyer said that the lies he told were compounding: "What a tangled web we weave, once you tell a lie."

Newman asked Murdaugh what he meant when he testified about the web of lies.

"I meant when I lied, I continued to lie," Murdaugh replied.

Newman noted that the jury has concluded he has lied throughout his testimony, particularly about his alibi and his omission of being at the scene of the murder moments before his wife and son were fatally shot.

"When will it end?" Newman asked.

Judge speaks of the 'monster you've become' to Murdaugh

Murdaugh declined to speak further when asked by Newman if he wanted to address the court before his sentencing.

"I'll tell you again, I respect this court, but I'm innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son, Paul Paul," Murdaugh said.

"It might not have been you," Newman said. "It might have been the monster you've become."

Newman gets personal

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Murdaugh was a once-prominent lawyer in South Carolina's Lowcountry. Newman addressed the community they shared as legal practitioners.

"As a member of the legal community and well-known member of the legal community, you’ve practiced law before me and we’ve seen each other in various occasions throughout the years," Newman said to Murdaugh.

“It was especially heartbreaking for me to see you go in the media from being a grieving father who lost the wife and son to being the person indicted and convicted of killing them."

Murdaugh addresses the court

Murdaugh spoke briefly during his sentencing, telling the court: "I'm innocent. I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son, Paul Paul."

No victim impact statements

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters told Newman that there will be no victim impact statement during the sentencing hearing on behalf of the prosecution.

A victim advocate said none of them wished to speak.

"I want to commend our victim advocate on the excellent job handling this complex situation," Waters said.

Judge will hear from both sides as he weighs the sentence

Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman is going to balance a number of factors in the sentencing today.

Watch for the defense to try to argue there are mitigating factors that should weigh against life in prison — such as Murdaugh's lack of criminal history and drug addiction. But the prosecution will point to other factors, including his lack of remorse.

Murdaugh will also have an opportunity to speak, if he chooses. But he may decide to keep quiet today, especially if he wants to file an appeal.

Murdaugh arrives at the courthouse

Murdaugh arrived at the Colleton County Courthouse just before 9:30 a.m. for his sentencing hearing.

Unlike during his trial, when he wore a dress shirt and jacket each day, Murdaugh arrived in a tan jail jumpsuit, white socks and orange slippers. His hands were cuffed and his legs were chained.

Image: Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh arrives Friday at the Colleton County Courthouse.Chris Carlson / AP

South Carolina AG details what worked

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson spoke Friday ahead of the sentencing about the moments in the high-profile trial that sealed Murdaugh’s fate.

“That kennel video that no one knew existed until months after the murders occurred, it was basically Paul speaking from beyond the grave. That, yes, Alex Murdaugh was there just moments before Maggie and Paul were brutally murdered. That was a major piece of the state’s case,” he said on NBC's "TODAY" show.

In the case, the state presented the Snapchat video evidence taken from Paul’s cellphone that placed Murdaugh at the estate’s kennels at 8:44 p.m. the night of the murders, countering his denial to investigators that he had last seen his family at dinner time. 

The attorney general said Murdaugh himself was the “biggest piece of evidence.”

“When he took the stand, I think that was fatal for him ultimately,” Wilson said.

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Timeline of the case