Alex Murdaugh Can't Keep Jury in Dark on Money Woes

Judge rules against him at double-murder trial
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 7, 2023 8:25 AM CST
Judge's Ruling May Be Bad News for Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh, front left, takes his seat in the Colleton County Courthouse before his double murder trial in Walterboro, S.C., on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.   (Jeff Blake/The State via AP, Pool)

A judge ruled Monday he will allow jurors to hear evidence that disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was stealing money from his law firm and clients and committing other financial crimes long before his wife and son were killed in 2021. Murdaugh, 54, is standing trial in the shootings of his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, in 2021 at their Colleton County home. The defense argued that prosecutors want to smear Alex Murdaugh with details of his finances because they have lots of evidence he stole money but none on the killings, per the AP.

In explaining his ruling, Judge Clifton Newman said the jury is entitled to consider whether Murdaugh's “apparent desperation” and “dire financial situation” resulted in the killings of his family. Newman said he didn't think the financial crime evidence alone would persuade the jury to convict Murdaugh of murder. The decision, called a "tremendous win" for prosecutors by the Daily Beast, means jurors over the next several days will hear from witnesses who testified previously before a judge about how Murdaugh secured $4 million in settlements for the family of the longtime Murdaugh housekeeper who died in a fall. He allegedly kept the money for himself.

Other testimony includes the office manager confronting Murdaugh over almost $800,000 in missing law firm fees the day of the killings and how a key hearing in a wrongful death lawsuit that might reveal the true condition of Murdaugh's finances was scheduled for three days after his wife and son were shot. The hearing was canceled.

(More Alex Murdaugh stories.)

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