What’s next for Alex Murdaugh? Attorneys analyze the legal troubles ahead for the convicted killer
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - One week ago, Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering his wife and son.
The disgraced attorney still faces a slew of legal troubles.
In addition to the killings of his wife Maggie and son Paul, Murdaugh is indicted on 99 charges stemming from various alleged financial crimes.
Attorney Eric Bland, who represents the family of Gloria Satterfield, the late Murdaugh housekeeper, said that he expects the Attorney General’s office to move “full-speed ahead” on the financial crimes cases.
“The state of South Carolina has their foot on Alex Murdaugh’s throat, and they’re not going to let up,” he said.
Bland anticipates that a trial for the Satterfield criminal case could possibly be scheduled within the next six months.
When asked about a timeline for the Satterfield case, Robert Kittle, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, sent WIS a statement, which reads, “Nothing is scheduled yet. We will seek a status conference at some point in the near future to discuss scheduling with the court and the defense.”
Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over the murder trial, said at Murdaugh’s sentencing last Friday that he has been assigned to hear all of the financial crimes cases.
Bland and his law partner Ronnie Richter were the first attorneys to bring Murdaugh’s financial misdeeds to light.
The convicted murderer admitted to pocketing a multi-million dollar insurance settlement owed to the Satterfield family after Gloria’s death at the Murdaugh family home in 2018.
Bland does not expect Murdaugh to plead guilty to any of the financial crimes, however, which would force the state to bring these cases to trial.
“Think of how he’s manipulated and wasted judicial and legal resources and law enforcement officers,” he said. “On the Labor Day shooting, he made them bring in a sketch artist to do a sketch of somebody that he knew already had shot him, which was Cousin Eddie. So he wasted money and three days’ worth of investigation before he came clean on that. He wasted two years of law enforcement time and money to prove that he was at the kennels.
Bland said Murdaugh is a “very dangerous man,” who will utilize every legal avenue and right available to him, “irrespective of how long it’s going to take and the cost.”
The state, Bland argues, will seek to do three of these financial crimes trials in a row, hoping to create a “backstop” that would keep Murdaugh in jail for the rest of his life in the event the murder conviction is reversed on appeal.
On Thursday, Murdaugh’s legal team filed a notice to appeal the murder convictions.
In a press conference after Murdaugh’s sentencing, his defense attorneys said their grounds for appeal could include the fact that Newman allowed evidence of Murdaugh’s alleged financial misdeeds to be admitted as evidence.
Typically, prior crimes a defendant is accused of cannot be admitted as evidence in another case, but there can be exceptions to prove motive.
The defense also asserted that Murdaugh’s Fifth Amendment rights were violated when the state asked him why he did not admit to being at the scene of the crime, the family dog kennels, just minutes before the murders.
Former assistant state prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Susan Williams said she does not believe the defense has strong grounds for an appeal.
“The motive here, of the financial crimes, was so much intertwined with the double murders that there’s almost no way around that, I don’t think that’s going to hold up on appeal,” she said. “The second issue, the post-Miranda silence, I don’t think that’s going to hold up either. I mean they seem very confident about it, but I don’t think that that’s something that’s going to hold up because of how much Alex Murdaugh talked after the crimes, because of how much he said to us during his testimony, and his cross-examination.”
Williams said Murdaugh waived his right to remain silent when he took the stand in his own defense.
The next steps in the appeal process include a memorandum with several documents that will explain the defense’s grounds for appeal, according to Williams.
However, a transcript of the trial’s testimony has to be typed up as well, and it could take at least six weeks or more to get that done.
Both attorneys said they do not expect the appeal to be heard quickly.
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