Alex Murdaugh speaks with his legal team before he is sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murder of his wife and son by Judge Clifton Newman at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, March 3, 2023.
Joshua Boucher | The State | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Convicted killer Alex Murdaugh struck a plea deal Friday, days before the start of his trial in South Carolina’s sprawling case against him in dozens of financial crimes.
Murdaugh, 55, appeared in Beaufort County Court before Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman and agreed to plead guilty to various counts, including in a case in which he was accused of siphoning off insurance settlement funds in the death of the Murdaughs’ longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.
Chief prosecutor Creighton Waters of the state attorney general’s office said the deal means Murdaugh will serve a “lengthy sentence” that ensures he will remain in state prison “for a very long time.”
For more on the case, watch “The Murdaugh Murders: Inside the Investigation” on “Dateline” at 9 ET/8 CT Friday.
The state’s case, which played a pivotal role in Murdaugh’s double murder trial in February, included 101 financial-related charges and an alleged loss of $8.8 million to those affected by the schemes he committed while he was a personal injury lawyer.
Murdaugh is serving two consecutive life terms for the fatal shootings of his wife, Margaret, 52, and their younger son, Paul, 22, in 2021.
The deal between the state attorney general’s office and Murdaugh’s defense team means he will avoid the trial that was set to begin Nov. 27, in what would have again brought a spotlight onto the disbarred attorney.
Murdaugh’s murder trial drew intense coverage, given his lineage as the scion of a powerful legal family in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, and his actions in the wake of the shooting deaths of his wife and son at their rural estate.
The case, first classified as an unsolved double homicide, quickly unraveled into wider allegations of financial fraud, a hired hitman plot and drug addiction, and it revived inquiries into other curious deaths linked to the Murdaugh family.
Murdaugh has proclaimed his innocence in the fatal shootings of his wife and son since a grand jury indicted him in the murders last year. Prosecutors alleged he killed them to gain pity before he would be exposed for a slew of financial crimes.
He pleaded guilty in federal court in September to almost two dozen counts of financial fraud and money laundering. As part of a plea deal, Murdaugh must pay restitution to “each and every identifiable victim,” according to the agreement with federal prosecutors, who accused him of stealing about $9 million from clients in a “pattern of criminal activity” going back more than a decade.
In addition, he may be subject to a polygraph test and could be called to “testify fully and truthfully before any grand juries and at any other trials or other proceedings,” prosecutors said.
In return, his federal sentence must run at the same time as any sentence imposed in his state case.
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