Alex Murdaugh convicted of murdering wife Maggie and son Paul

Disgraced South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was found guilty of the grisly 2021 murders of his wife and son Thursday evening at Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro.

As the jury reconvened at 7 p.m. local time —after just three hours of deliberations —Murdaugh sat ashen-faced on the stand. The foreman announced they had reached a unanimous verdict, which they passed to Judge Clifton Newman.

As the two guilty murder verdicts were announced, Murdaugh, 54, stood still and did not speak or react. He was also then found guilty of two counts of possession of a weapon in the commission of a crime.

Sitting a few rows back, Murdaugh’s remaining living son, Buster, 26, cradled his chin in his hands and also showed no apparent emotion.

Addressing the court after the verdict had been read, Judge Newman said: “The minimum sentence [on the homicide charges] is 30 years and the maximum is life imprisonment.”

He then set sentencing for Friday morning at 9:30. As Murdaugh was led from the court, Buster did not stand for his father.

Many were shocked the jury came to a unanimous decision so quickly after the jurors heard testimony from more than 70 witnesses in a grueling 28-day trial. 

“I am surprised,” said Joseph McCulloch Jr., a Columbia, South Carolina lawyer and close friend of the Murdaughs. “I expected much more deliberation after six weeks of testimony and all that evidence. I thought it would end with a hung jury.”

Another Palmetto State attorney, who didn’t know the Mudaugh family personally, said he felt the jury rushed to a judgment. 

“It was six weeks of testimony, hundreds of exhibits, many many witnesses, conflicting testimony and the jury gave it two hours of deliberation at the end of the day when they were all exhausted,” Robert Reeves told The Post. “It’s hard to imagine that they could even have sifted through the exhibits in that amount of time.”

The stunning verdict comes after a six-week trial that painted two starkly different images of Murdaugh — one as a cold-blooded killer and the other as a fumbling, guilt-ridden drug addict who nevertheless loved his family and would not hurt them.

The lurid saga, which garnered national attention, started on June 7, 2021, when Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul, 22, were shot dead by the kennels at the family’s Islandton hunting lodge.

During their four weeks of testimony, prosecutors argued that Murdaugh, the scion of a storied legal dynasty, had killed them both to cover up his extensive financial misdeeds, which were on the verge of being discovered by his business partners after his drug addiction had spiraled out of control.

The devastating evidence presented by the state included unnerving bodycam footage of Murdaugh standing just feet away from his relatives’ bullet-ridden bodies.

Within moments of the police arriving on the estate, Murdaugh can be heard trying to blame the shooting on the threats Paul had been receiving following a drunken 2019 boat crash that killed his friend Mallory Beach – a claim he later repeated on the stand.

Based on an audio tape of an interview from three days after the murders, lead prosecutor Creighton Watters also told the jury that Murdaugh sobbed, “I did him so bad!” when shown images of his son’s mangled body.

Evidence suggests that Paul was shot twice with a shotgun, once at close enough range to completely detach his brain from his head, a forensic expert said.

A defense witness, Murdaugh’s former law partner, later testified that he found a piece of the troubled son’s skull “the size of a baseball” at the scene, which the jury then visited before the defense rested.

While Murdaugh’s defense team refuted the state’s claims about the tearful quasi-confession, Murdaugh himself admitted on the stand that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the night of the murders.

Though he initially maintained that he was visiting his mother, who had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, at the time of the killings, Murdaugh testified that he was the voice captured by Paul in a Snapchat video at 8:45 p.m. – just five minutes before experts believe the young man and his mother were gunned down.

Murdaugh maintained, however, that he subsequently visited his mother, and only found his family’s bodies when he returned to the kennels over an hour later.

He frequently sobbed on the stand and blamed his pattern of deceit on years-long drug addiction, the same struggle that allegedly drove him to pilfer funds from clients and defraud his family’s law firm.

Buster had stood by his father during the trial and testified for the defense last month saying Murdaugh was “destroyed” and “heartbroken” by Maggie and Paul’s deaths.

In addition to the murder convictions, Murdaugh also faces trial over dozens of alleged financial crimes that could total over 700 years behind bars, Law&Crime reported.

Former friends and South Carolina locals said they were stunned to see the once-powerful lawyer’s fall from grace and ultimate guilty conviction Thursday.

“I am totally shocked,” said ex-friend of the patriarch, John Wright. “The evidence is overwhelming but I can’t believe the jury was brave enough to convict him. I honestly didn’t think they would. Everyone knows these guys, and in addition to that, they had a lot of influence here. I thought the jury might be more reticent or fearful about convicting him.”

The lawyer for the Murdaugh family’s late housekeeper said in a statement to The Post that he was glad to see Maggie and Paul get justice.

“Too many people who are not from South Carolina did not understand the connection between the South Carolina hands who served on the jury in the soil they live on, and what it means that somebody who is in this kind of position of power and authority abuses that power,” said attorney Eric Bland, who represents relatives of Gloria Satterfield.

“Alex Murdaugh now drinks from the same cup of justice as every other murderer.”

Satterfield, 57, died in 2018 after Murdaugh said she tripped over his dogs, according to the family’s lawsuit. No autopsy was ever conducted, according to Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper, who said that the death was suspicious.