Alex Murdaugh, the tarnished South Carolina attorney already serving life sentences for the brutal murder of his wife and younger son, faced another blow on Tuesday. The 55-year-old was sentenced to an additional 27 years in state prison for a range of financial crimes, including fraud and money laundering.
Murdaugh, who recently pleaded guilty to 22 counts related to the financial misdeeds, appeared before Judge Clifton Newman during Tuesday's hearing. The plea and the associated agreement were accepted by the judge, marking a new chapter in the legal saga surrounding Murdaugh.
The disgraced attorney stood accused of orchestrating a complex scheme to embezzle millions from both his law firm and unsuspecting clients. State prosecutor Creighton Waters, describing the plea deal as "unique and unprecedented," emphasized the severity of the white-collar crimes, noting that such examples were scarce both at the state and federal levels nationwide.
Waters deemed the ruling a "practical life sentence" for Murdaugh, underscoring that he would be required to serve at least 85 percent of the 27-year term. This amounts to more than 22 years behind bars, reflecting the gravity of Murdaugh's actions.
According to reports from US-based media outlets, Waters highlighted that Murdaugh exploited the trust of vulnerable individuals while operating as a personal injury attorney at his Hampton County law firm, ultimately siphoning more than $12 million.
During the sentencing, Judge Newman, who previously presided over the murder trial, expressed his disappointment, labeling the sentence a "stern" one. He addressed Murdaugh directly, stating, "It's so disappointing to see you again in this setting." Newman described Murdaugh as "empty" but expressed a glimmer of hope, stating, "I hope that something will emerge within your soul."
The judge acknowledged the unimaginable nature of Murdaugh's actions, pondering whether they were a result of personal choices or external factors such as drug use. Newman admitted uncertainty, saying, "I don't even know who I'm speaking to now."
Despite the stern sentence, some closure was achieved for the victims and their families. Prior to Murdaugh's sentencing, several of them addressed the court, providing an opportunity for their voices to be heard in the aftermath of the crimes that have shaken their lives.