‘No one is above the law’

Alan Wilson gives a press conference in Walerboro on Thursday 2 March  (Law and Crime via YouTube)

Alan Wilson gives a press conference in Walerboro on Thursday 2 March (Law and Crime via YouTube)

Prosecutors in South Carolina reacted with elation to the guilty verdict against Alex Murdaugh on Thursday night, telling a cheering crowd: “Justice has been done”.

At a jubilant press conference outside the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, state attorney general Alan Wilson hailed “a great day for the people of South Carolina”.

“Today’s verdict proves that no one – no one, no matter who you are in society – is above the law.”

“Our criminal justice system worked tonight. It gave a voice to Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, who were brutally mowed down and murdered on the night of 7 June, 2021 by someone that they loved and someone they trusted…

“A lot of people doubted that this process would work, and hopefully we have instilled and put a little bit of faith back into you and your lives.”

Mr Wilson’s speech came after a Walterboro jury unanimously found Murdaugh, 54, guilty of brutally murdering his wife Maggie and son Paul in what local media described as South Carolina’s “trial of the century”.

Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters likewise praised the verdict, saying: “Justice was done today. It doesn’t matter who your family is. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or people think you have. It doesn’t matter what you think how prominent you are.

“If you do wrong, if you break the law, if you murder, then justice will be done in South Carolina. And I think South Carolina has shown to the nation, and the world, how a process can work, and work well. Thank y’all.”

A judge will now decide Murdaugh’s sentence, with prosecutors seeking life in prison without parole.

Murdaugh’s arrest in 2022, more than a year after the murders, sent shockwaves through South Carolina, where his family has reigned over the justice system of Hampton County for almost a century.

In a dramatic six-week trial, prosecutors said the disbarred lawyer had been pushed by a “gathering storm” of financial crimes, opioid addiction, and years of “living a lie” into becoming a “family annihilator”.

Beyond his murders, he faces at least 100 other criminal charges over a string of allegations ranging from a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme to allegedly conspiring to hire a hitman to murder him so that his remaining son could inherit a $10m life insurance windfall.

On Thursday night, Mr Wilson described the verdict as the fruit of “nearly two years of blood, sweat, and tears”, with officials working long hours and sometimes hardly eating to deliver “justice”.

In a press conference that sometimes resembled an awards acceptance speech, punctuated by cheers, whoops, and shouts of “amen!” from the crowd, he gave his thanks to a long list of officials, prosecutors, law enforcement officers, clerks, bailiffs, and others, as well as the jurors and the media.

“When you go home tonight, hug your loved ones, Hug your spouse, hug your children,” he concluded. “Because this case reminds us, if anything, that you just can’t take for granted that people in your family are always going to be there

“When I get home tomorrow I’m gonna hug mine, and I hope you hug yours.”

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