Alex Murdaugh admits guilt to state financial charges.
Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh, already serving two life sentences for the heinous murder of his wife and son, made headlines again as he entered a guilty plea on Friday to nearly two dozen state financial charges.
These charges include money laundering, breach of trust, conspiracy, forgery, and tax evasion.
This unexpected development unfolded as part of a plea deal meticulously negotiated between Murdaugh’s defense team and prosecutors.
The revelation of the plea deal emerged after a prolonged delay in a pretrial hearing initially slated to address a motion for a “change of venue” and other issues pertinent to Murdaugh’s impending state financial trials in Beaufort County.
Murdaugh faced an array of state charges related to alleged schemes targeting victims, involving embezzlement, computer crime, money laundering, and tax evasion.
Lead prosecutor Creighton Waters emphasized that the deal aimed to bring “finality to the matter” and ensure Murdaugh’s extended stay in state prison.
The proposed agreement, if approved, would result in Murdaugh serving a cumulative 27-year sentence in a South Carolina state prison, according to Waters.
During the court proceedings, Waters meticulously detailed the numerous charges across several South Carolina counties to which Murdaugh was pleading guilty.
The charges spanned various schemes, with specific prison times agreed upon for each.
However, when questioned by Judge Clifton Newman about his agreement with Waters’ account of the crimes, Murdaugh expressed disagreement with “some of the narrative.”
While Murdaugh admitted, “I wrongly took all of that money and did all of those crimes,” he maintained disagreement with certain aspects of the narrative.
“I am guilty, and I believe I would be found guilty,” he added, expressing relief at the opportunity to finally plead guilty for various reasons.
The deal’s approval and the official sentencing now rest in the hands of Judge Newman, who has scheduled a November 28 hearing for the sentencing.
The guilty plea specifically addresses state financial charges, leaving open the question of the remaining county charges Murdaugh faces.
Attorneys Eric “EB” Bland and Ronnie Richter, representing some of Murdaugh’s victims, issued a statement expressing that Murdaugh’s guilty plea would initiate the healing process for his financial victims.
They acknowledged the imperfections of justice but emphasized that justice was served in this case.
With two life sentences already imposed for the murder of his wife and son, Murdaugh, a disbarred attorney, remains entangled in various state and federal cases, facing over 100 other charges.
The guilty plea pertains solely to state financial charges and does not encompass the remaining county charges.
Judge Newman highlighted that his acceptance of the plea agreement would be contingent on meeting all requirements from the Victims Bill of Rights.
In South Carolina, the constitution protects the rights of victims in criminal cases, ensuring their participation in proceedings and their right to receive restitution from the convicted person.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson expressed satisfaction with Murdaugh’s guilty plea, deeming it a “win for the victims and for justice in South Carolina.”
He emphasized that, irrespective of one’s last name, position, or connections, no one is above the law in South Carolina.
This marks the second plea deal for Murdaugh, who previously pleaded guilty in September to nearly two dozen federal charges, including wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering.
These charges allege the misappropriation of millions of dollars from clients and carry a maximum punishment of 20 to 30 years in federal prison.
Sentencing for the federal charges will be determined at a later date.
In March 2023, a Colleton County jury convicted Murdaugh of murdering his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, at the family’s hunting estate in June 2021.
Judge Newman sentenced him to two consecutive life sentences in a South Carolina state prison, where Murdaugh is currently serving his time.
However, his appeal of the murder convictions is on hold as his defense team pursues a motion for a new trial based on allegations of jury tampering by the Colleton County Clerk.
Clerk Becky Hill has denied these allegations in a signed affidavit submitted to the court.
Judge Newman recused himself from post-trial motions related to Murdaugh’s murder case, and a decision on whether Murdaugh will receive a new trial is pending.