Alex Murdaugh has not spared himself a lifetime behind bars after he pleaded guilty to a string of financial crimes at his murder trial.
Murdaugh was found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul at the family’s $4 million Moselle estate in Islandton and was sentenced to life in prison in South Carolina.
Despite his conviction, Murdaugh continues to profess his innocence – even when he is given one last chance to confess at his sentencing hearing.
His legal team, state Sen. Dick Harputlian and friend Jim Griffin have already vowed to fight the guilty verdict, appealing the case all the way to the US Supreme Court.
But, as eminent lawyer Duncan Levin said The independent this week, it will be no different.
First, Mr. Levin is doubtful that an appeal would be successful.
“I see no basis for appeal. When he took the stand, he erased any real possibility of wrongdoing as he put it in his own words,” said the former assistant U.S. attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office and a prominent criminal defense attorney at Levin & Associates who has represented clients including Harvey Weinstein and Anna Delvay. .
And second, even if the appeal was successful, Mr. Levin said Murdaugh had sentenced himself to life in prison after implicating himself in a series of financial fraud crimes.
“He will spend the rest of his life in prison – there is no solution at this point,” he said.
“Not only has he been convicted of two heinous murders, but he has also engaged in financial crimes to earn a life sentence.”
In addition to the murder case, Murdaugh faces a whopping 99 counts – punishable by up to 700 years in prison – for stealing at least $8.7 million in settlements from dozens of legal clients he represented through his PMPED law firm.
The alleged plans date back to 2011. They are detailed in a collection of 19 separate indictments in cases that have yet to go to trial, but the crimes emerged as a motive during his double-murder trial.
Prosecutors said Murdaugh killed his wife and son to distract attention from his financial crimes that were about to come to light.
When Murdaugh took the witness stand to testify in his own defense, he confessed to stealing from PMPED and at least 18 law firm clients.
These confessions – while under oath – are now likely to have significant implications in fraud cases.
“He had to admit to committing other crimes in his testimony, and that’s part of the problem with his testimony,” Mr. Levin said.
“Right now he’s already facing two life sentences.”
Having worked as a defense lawyer in numerous high-profile cases, Mr. Levin said it was certainly “unusual” to see a defendant confess to other crimes on the stand.
“But most people don’t engage in a lifetime of pervasive crime, so it’s an unusual situation where he’s not only facing charges of double murder but also a lifetime of financial crimes,” he said.
“So it’s unusual [to confess to other crimes on the stand] but everything in this case is unusual.’
Incriminating himself in a string of financial fraud crimes isn’t the only reason Murdaugh’s decision to testify was a “colossal mistake,” the legal expert said.
Mr. Levin described Murdaugh’s move to take the witness stand as navigating a “land minefield” given the other crimes and lies he was confronted with during cross-examination.
“I thought it was a colossal mistake in this case to take a stand,” he said.
“Initially he had to admit that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts on the night of the murders.
“He also had to admit to years upon years of cheating and lying to his clients from whom he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“He looked them in the eye like a jury in the eye and lied to them to get their money … he had to look the jury in the eye and say I’ve lied to so many people on so many occasions but this time I have to trust that I am telling the truth.”
Mr. Levin added: “His testimony was appalling and essentially helped prosecutors convict him.”
When he took the stand, Murdaugh admitted he lied about his alibi on the night of the murders.
For the past 20 months, he had claimed he had never been to the kennels with his wife and son that night.
But he was forced to admit he had lied after jurors were shown a damning cellphone video recorded by Paul that put Murdaugh at the crime scene moments before the murders.
Despite the “disgust” of his testimony, Mr. Levin said he doubted the verdict would have turned out differently even if he had not taken the stand, given that “all the evidence points” to Murdoch as the killer.
Dramatic moment Alex Murdaugh faced for lying about night of murders
In fact, Mr. Levin said he was surprised it took jurors so long to convict him.
Jurors spent less than three hours deliberating before returning a unanimous guilty verdict – a time frame that led to speculation from some on social media that the panel did not spend enough time looking at the evidence.
“I’m surprised it took three hours. I actually predicted an hour,” Mr. Levin said.
“There is no magic time,” he said, defending how long it took jurors.
“The jury paid close attention to the trial for many weeks. They didn’t just have a few hours to consider the evidence – they actually thought and pondered and considered it for weeks and weeks.”