Murdaugh Trial Judge Says He’s Not Surpised by Jury’s Swift Guilty Verdict

Jurors convicted Alex Murdaugh in three hours

The South Carolina judge who presided over Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial spoke about the ordeal for the first time on Tuesday.

According to Today, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman said during a speech at his alma mater, Cleveland State University, that the defense’s request to visit the crime scene was detrimental as it benefitted the prosecution. Earlier this month, a jury convicted Murdaugh of fatally shooting his wife and son in 2021, and Newman gave him two consecutive life sentences.

According to the Associated Press, Newman said he was not shocked that the jury took only three hours to convict Murdaugh.

“When they go back to deliberate, they don’t want to look at those 800 exhibits. They don’t want to spend their time combing through everything they have laboriously sat there and listened to for that period of time,” he commented.

Newman went on to explain why he allowed evidence of Murdaugh’s financial crimes to be shown to the jury. During the trial, Newman said the defense’s questioning about Murdaugh’s character “opened the door” for the prosecution to show evidence of Murdaugh stealing money from his law firm and clients.

“Once the defendant takes the stand and testifies almost everything is fair game at that point. We’ll see where it goes,” Newman said on Tuesday. “I think the record speaks for itself.”

Murdaugh has appealed his murder convictions. Today reported that Newman has been assigned to preside over Murdaugh’s fraud trial. Though Newman is required to retire this year as he turns 72, he may remain on the bench past that if the trial goes into next year.

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[Featured image: Clifton Newman/Grace Beahm Alford/The Post And Courier via AP, Pool, File; Alex Murdaugh/Joshua Boucher/The State via AP, Pool]