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Murdaugh appeals murder conviction, life sentence

Prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of his wife and son. ©AFP

Washington (AFP) - Alex Murdaugh, the South Carolina lawyer sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife and son, said Friday he was appealing his conviction in the sensational case. 

Murdaugh, scion of an elite family of judges and attorneys, was convicted and sentenced last week in a televised three-week trial that captivated viewers nationwide and outside the country.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence like a murder weapon or DNA showing he shot his son Paul and wife Maggie at their sprawling hunting estate on June 7, 2021, it took a jury only a few hours to convict him.

Evidence from his son's cell phone indicated Murdaugh, 54, was the only person with them at the estate's hunting dog kennels several minutes before Maggie was killed with an assault rifle and Paul with a shotgun.

One day after the jury ruled, the judge sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences, without parole.

Just ahead of the sentencing, the lanky, red-headed attorney who made a fortune suing companies but also stole millions from his law firm to feed a huge opioid habit, denied he killed them.

"I'm innocent.I would never hurt my wife Maggie.And I would never hurt my son Paw Paw," he said, using his son's nickname.

"It might not have been you," the judge responded."It might have been the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills."

The twists and turns of the case focused on a family which the judge said "controlled justice" in the South Carolina coastal lowlands for generations.

The trial delved deeply into the culture of hunting wild pigs and other wildlife in the area, Murdaugh's admitted theft of huge sums from clients including poor families, and raised questions about two other deaths possibly tied to the Murdaugh family.

Even before the trial finished, Netflix and HBO rushed out docu-dramas on the case.

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