Alex Murdaugh trial: Disgraced lawyer jailed for wife & son murder - does South Carolina have death penalty?

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Murdaugh was convicted of shooting dead his 22 year-old son Paul Murdaugh and 52 year-old wife, Maggie Murtagh in June 2021.

Disgraced former US lawyer, Alex Murdaugh, who is at the centre of a new docu-series on Netflix callled The Murdaugh Murders, has been sentenced to life without parole after he was convicted of murdering both his wife and youngest son in June 2021. Moments before he was sentenced, Murdaugh continued to claim his innocence saying: “I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paul.”

Prosecutor Creighton Waters described the disbarred South Carolina lawyer’s crimes as “depraved” and urged Judge Clifton Newman to sentence Murdaugh to life in prison without parole. “The depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes are stunning. The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he is, including here, sitting right over there in this witness stand – your honour, a man like that, a man like this man, should never be allowed to be among free, law-abiding citizens,” MrWaters said.

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After sentencing, Judge Newman told the court that whilst he was not commenting on the jury’s decision not to pursue the death penalty he did however wonder about those people sentenced to death in the same courtroom “probably for lesser conduct” than Murdaugh.

"I don't question at all the decision of the state not to pursue the death penalty. But as I sit here in this courtroom and look around at the many portraits of judges and other court officials and reflect on the fact that over the past century, your family — including you — have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom, and many have received the death penalty, probably for lesser conduct," Judge Newman said.

Does South Carolina have the death penalty?

Yes. However, due to pharmaceutical companies refusing to sell the drugs required for lethal injection no prisoner has been executed in the state since 2011. However, in 2022 the South Carolina Department of Corrections announced they were ready to carry out executions by firing squad. Inmates will now have the choice to be executed via electrocution or firing squad; with electrocution being the primary method.

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