Prosecutors this week revealed a possible motive for why South Carolina legal scion Alex Murdaugh allegedly murdered his wife and son, WCSC-TV reports.
In a court filing on Thursday, lawyers for the government alleged that Murdaugh committed the murders to divert attention away from his theft of almost $9 million from clients.
Because of that theory, the state asked a judge to admit evidence of Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes in the murder trial.
“The evidence will show Murdaugh accrued substantial debts over a period of years and to uncover those debts began engaging in illicit financial crimes,” a motion by the state reads, according to CNN. “The evidence will further show these financial crimes were about to come to light at the time of the killings, more specifically on the date of the killings.”
The motion continues: “Ultimately, the murders served as Murdaugh’s means to shift the focus away from himself and buy himself some additional time to try and prevent his financial crimes from being uncovered, which, if revealed, would have resulted in personal legal and financial ruin for Murdaugh.”
Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found dead at a family hunting lodge in Islandton, South Carolina, on June 7, 2021.
State grand jury chief prosecutor Creighton Waters argued in the motion that Murdaugh was expecting a payout from a high-profile case, but when it collapsed, Murdaugh allegedly committed the murders to avert his “day of reckoning,” the court filing states, according to CNN.
In fact, just hours before the slayings, law firm officials allegedly confronted Murdaugh about the alleged financial misdeeds.
Murdaugh would take time following the killings to try to collect money to cover the missing funds, according to CNN, citing Waters.
“This is a white-collar case that culminated in murders,” Waters told Circuit Judge Clifton Newman at a hearing on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Murdaugh’s lawyer Jim Griffin disputed the state’s allegations and argued that the alleged financial improprieties should not be admissible.
The court did not rule on the dispute over whether to allow the financial crime allegations into the murder case, according to WCSC-TV.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. His jury trial is scheduled to begin in January.
Aside from the murder charges, Murdaugh is facing dozens of charges for allegedly stealing money from clients and from his former law firm, stealing money from a former housekeeper who died after falling on his property, and for drug trafficking.
He also allegedly attempted to stage his own death in a failed attempt to cash out a $10 million life insurance payment for his surviving son, 26-year-old Buster. Murdaugh has also pleaded not guilty to these charges.
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[Featured image: Police handout]