(NewsNation) — Alex Murdaugh, the disbarred South Carolina attorney who has been accused of a murder-for-hire plot, embezzling millions from his clients and trafficking drugs, is set to go on trial Monday for the murder of his wife and son.
It will be the culmination of years of media coverage surrounding Murdaugh and the numerous mysterious deaths to which he’s been linked. A housekeeper died in the family’s home in 2018, and a year later, a young woman died in a boating accident in which Murdaugh’s son was involved.
Murdaugh was indicted by a grand jury in July 2022 for the killings of his wife and son in the 2021 double homicide. Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found shot to death June 7, 2021, on the family’s 1,700-acre property roughly 70 miles west of Charleston.
Prosecutors alleged in court filings that Murdaugh killed Maggie and Paul because of the threat of “personal, legal and financial ruin.” The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said Murdaugh sought to portray himself as a victim to distract from multiple investigations into a decade of financial crimes.
The state argued there were two versions of Murdaugh: the one the public knew, and the person he really was — “an allegedly crooked lawyer and drug user who borrowed and stole wherever he could to stay afloat and one step ahead of detection.”
Prosecutors are expected to ask a judge to admit evidence of financial crimes “and related offenses” to establish motive.
Criminal defense Sara Azari said Tuesday on “CUOMO” that it’s unclear how much of the evidence will be admissible.
“The one thing that I think the judge will limit this to, and admit, may be the boating accident, the facts and circumstances around that that support motive,” Azari said. “These other deaths he’s not behind, but it’s more about what he did in response and after the fact — the cover-ups, the embezzlement, the fraud.”
After Murdaugh’s housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, died after falling down the stairs in the home in 2018, he told the family he would make sure they were financially taken care of. But the family never saw a dime, and Murdaugh agreed in June 2022 to pay $4.3 million to Satterfield’s estate.
Murdaugh was disbarred by the state Supreme Court a month later.
“It was him trying to take advantage of the situation and steal the money from a potential lawsuit,” Eric Bland, attorney for the Satterfield family, said Tuesday on “CUOMO.”
Murdaugh’s defense team contends he wasn’t home when his wife and son were killed, but instead had left for his mother’s just before the shootings, the Post and Courier reported. The defense had previously asked to have his alibi stricken, claiming the prosecution didn’t provide a specific enough time for the killings.
Rachel Fiset, managing partner at Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo LLP, suggested Tuesday on “NewsNation Live” that the defense will likely zero in on the issue of motive, as well as the fact that two guns were used in the shooting.
“I think there’s just so much to choose from in this case that both sides will be picking and choosing what best represents their side,” Fiset said.