Murdaugh suddenly turned upset throughout his statement in which he passionately denied murdering his family.
“I didn’t shoot either my wife or my kid. Anytime. “Never ever,” he said before the jurors, holding back tears. “I would never intentionally harm them.”
His Lowcountry neighbors were particularly fascinated when the disbarred attorney’s forceful denial was televised to people all over the globe.
Residents sat in startled silence in restaurants, pubs, and gyms as one of the community’s pillars — now gone — firmly denied on the stand that he had “blown [his] son’s brains out” or ruthlessly murdered his wife.
“Everything came to a halt when he took the stand,” Marta Chambers, who worked at a hair shop several blocks away from the courtroom, tells PEOPLE in the magazine’s newest edition.
“We were riveted to the television. No one wanted to miss a single word. After years of questioning, we were finally hearing him explain himself.”
Murdaugh is suspected of murdering Paul, 22, and Maggie, 52, on June 7, 2021. Although the state has not provided a precise reason, authorities suspect he committed the killings while dealing with a slew of personal and financial problems.
Paul was shot in the chest and head at close range with a shotgun. Maggie was shot many times, including once in the back and again when she was laying on the ground.
She was hit with 300 Blackout ammunition fired from an AR-style weapon. They were both declared deceased at the site.
When South Carolina citizens heard the evidence, even some who had previously known the Murdaughs started to rethink what they thought they knew about Alex, the scion of one of the region’s most important and powerful families.
“I believe people are still surprised by how large this is and how sick and selfish he actually was,” a former Murdaugh family acquaintance tells PEOPLE. “How did he think he was going to get away with this?”
Murdaugh, 54, is facing two counts of first-degree murder and two weapons offenses. He has pled not guilty and is facing a lengthy trial.
Murdaugh, a former famous South Carolina attorney, has been prohibited from practicing law. In addition to the murder accusations, he faces more than 85 criminal offenses, many of which were discovered when police started investigating the family after the killings. When the murder case is settled, those cases will be tried.
Several individuals close to Murdaugh are grappling with contradictory feelings as his life has crumbled around him.
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“I knew Alex for almost 25 years,” a former legal partner claims. “He was a friend. Yet hearing everything he’s accused of — from murders to fraud to narcotics to theft — it all seems very personal as though he had deceived everyone. And I’ll never forgive him for that, no matter what happens in this case.