Murdaugh charged with manslaughter on wife, son

COLUMBIA, SC –

More than 13 months after the disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh called 911 after finding his wife and son shot outside their home, a grand jury charged him Thursday with murder charges in their homicide.

But the legal documents shed some light on the ongoing mystery of the deaths that captured the public, who have clicked on hundreds of stories and podcasts describing dozens of other criminal charges that have piled up in the months since Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, was killed on June 7, 2021.

Murdaugh, 54, has repeatedly denied any role in the deaths, saying he visited his mother and sick father and discovered his son and wife killed when he returned to their property.

“Alex wants his family, friends and everyone to know he had nothing to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loved them more than anything else in the world,” Murdaugh defense attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian said in a statement.

Each charge of murder was a section with exactly one new detail accusing Murdaugh of killing his wife with a rifle and his son with a shotgun. They include no details about how police linked Murdaugh to the deaths after 13 months of investigation, or why a man who had no criminal history and was part of a wealthy, well-connected family that dominated the legal community in small Hampton County , could have wanted to kill his own family members.

More information could be released in a bond hearing for the new charges Wednesday in the Colleton County Courthouse. Murdaugh is already in jail unable to pay a $ 7 million bail on the dozens of other charges.

Murdaugh was also charged Thursday with two counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to prosecutors from a grand jury in Colleton County, the site of the Murdaugh hunting lodge where the killings took place.

Murdaugh’s family has dominated the legal scene in small, nearby Hampton County for nearly a century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were the area’s elected prosecutors for 87 years in a row. Murdaugh once worked for the century-old, family-run law firm, which in September said he stole money.

During the course of the investigation, state police have released few details of the case, even in the fight against a lawsuit in which the newspaper The Post and Courier accused the agency of refusing to release information required by state law. Thursday’s charges were no exception. A joint statement from Attorney General Mark Keel and Attorney General Alan Wilson said they would not comment on specific evidence because the investigation remains active and a lawsuit is pending.

“Over the last 13 months, SLED agents and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against the person responsible for the murders of Maggie and Paul and to exclude those who were not. At no point did the agents lose focus on this study, “Keel said in the statement.

Murdaugh’s lawyers said “it was very clear from day one” that law enforcement focused on Murdaugh and no one else. They said they would have his trial held within the next three months.

“We know Alex had no motive whatsoever to assassinate them,” defense attorneys said.

If convicted, Murdaugh faces up to 30 years in prison without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed.

The deaths in June 2021 caused authorities to look into every corner of Murdaugh’s life. At least half a dozen investigations resulted in allegations that he stole $ 8.5 million from people who hired him and that he lied to police by saying he was shot by a stranger at a roadside when he actually prayed a friend about killing him. so his surviving son could get $ 10 million in life insurance just days after the family business determined he stole money. The friend said the gun went off as he tried to break it from a suicidal Murdaugh’s grip.

State police said the information they gathered in the Murdaugh investigations also prompted them to review what was originally reported as 19-year-old Stephen Smith’s crash in Hampton County in July 2015, although they did not provide further details.

Agents also said they plan to exhume the body of Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, whom the family said died at the hospital several days after a fall in 2018. Prosecutors said Murdaugh made his home insurance companies pay more than $ 4 million in untimely deaths. claims in Satterfield’s case by saying he negotiated for her family but did not give them any of the money.

In June, Murdaugh was indicted in what the prosecution said was an eight-year money laundering and analgesic ring that also involved the same friend and former client charged with trying to help him commit suicide.

Murdaugh wrote $ 437 checks worth $ 2.4 million, which his friend cashed over eight years, keeping some of the money to himself and donating the rest to extensive illegal activities, according to the indictment released last month.

The Supreme Court of South Carolina dismissed Murdaugh on Tuesday, confirming the inevitability after Murdaugh’s lawyers refused to challenge arguments at a June hearing.

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