The Alex Murdaugh Trial: How A Wealthy Family Lost It All

Photo taken by Andrew J. Whitaker, The Post And Courier via AP, Post.

Jacob Gosz, Reporter

On June 7, 2021, both Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh were brutally shot and murdered on their 1,700 acre family hunting lodge in Hampton, South Carolina. Alex Murdaugh, the successful lawyer and father of Paul, 22, and husband of Maggie, 52, was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole by Judge Clifton Newman of the South Carolina Circuit Court. 

The Murdaugh case is extremely popular due to the mystery and corruption surrounding the Murdaugh family name which has been called by social media users, “The Murdaugh Dynasty.” A hit netflix series by Campfire Studios titled, “Low Country:The Murdaugh Dynasty,” was released in late 2022 that gave first person accounts by witnesses and evidence found by investigators. 

On June 7, Alex called 911 and desperately described the killing of his wife and son while making numerous phone calls to close family members. SLED, or South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, arrived at the Murdaugh home commonly known as Moselle, and found two bodies near the dog kennels. Both Paul and Maggie were extremely wounded; Paul being shot twice with a shotgun and Maggie twice with a .300 blackout assault rifle. 

Alex was represented in court by the famed criminal defense attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, both of which have defended hundreds of cases over the course of their careers. The surprise move of the trial came from Alex Murdaugh himself, who took the stand himself to be faced with cross-examination. While the murder weapon was never found for the trail, both the defense team and prosecution team brought in many ammunition and rifle experts to testify during the trial.

The largest piece of evidence that led to Alex’s conviction was a 50 second long Snapchat video sent by Paul Murdaugh to his friends just hours before he was murdered. The video showed Paul and Maggie in the dog kennels looking at one of the family’s Labrador retriever’s tail. The interesting part of the video, however, was a deep voice heard in the background of the video. This voice confirmed by close friends of the family to be his during court testimony.

Alex Murdaugh confessed to stealing money to clients, and is charged with 99 accounts totaling nearly $8 million in stolen money. Alex was kicked out of his family-owned law firm, PMPED, after his apathetic confession to his financial crimes crumbled his relationship with some of his closest friends. 

Alex was known as a standup southernly gentleman by his friends and family which helped him create connections with many different people. These connections stretched as far as SLED, which is why there are many mysteries remaining behind cover ups. 

The Murdaugh family has had multiple unsolved deaths close to them, all of which are currently unsolved but are largely connected to the Murdaugh family. The first, Gloria Satterfield, the family housekeeper died in February of 2018 to a supposed fall down the stairs. Her children filed a settlement in October of 2021 with Alex and were awarded $4.3 Million. On July 8, 2015, 19 year old Stephen Smith was found dead on Sandy Run Road with trauma to his head and bruises on his arm. At first, the highway patrol team investigated the scene and ruled it a homicide. After the pathologist investigated Stephen’s body, he ruled it as a hit and run which brings up a lot of questions about the authenticity of the investigation due to the fact that there were ties to Buster Murdaugh, eldes son to Alex. 

Possibly the most important incident in recent Murdaugh history is the Mallory Beach case. On February 23, 2019, Paul Murdaugh and his group of friends went out on a boat late at night after having many drinks. When a number of the friends on the boat decided they wanted to go home, Paul convinced them that he could drive them home instead of getting an uber. The boat crashed into the Archers Creek Bridge at 2:20 a.m. on February 24, which killed 19 year old Mallory Beach and injured five others. Although the Murdaugh family dynasty has haunted Colleton County for generations, this case has proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Murdaugh familiy name.