Prosecutors Will Struggle to Establish Alex Murdaugh Motive—Attorney

The trial of a former lawyer accused of killing his wife and youngest son began this week, and according to a defense attorney, prosecutors may struggle to nail down a motive.

Alex Murdaugh, 54, of Colleton County, South Carolina, is accused of fatally shooting his wife Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and their 22-year-old-son, Paul Murdaugh.

The wife and son were killed on June 7, 2021, and the accused Alex Murdaugh called the cops to say he had found their bodies at their home on the date.

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing on Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. The trial of former lawyer accused of killing his wife and youngest son began this week, but according to a defense attorney, prosecutors may struggle to nail down a motive. MIC SMITH/AP PHOTO

Murdaugh has denied the accusations that he murdered his family or that he had any role in their deaths.

Criminal defense attorney Rachel Fiset, a co-founder and managing partner of Los Angeles-based Zweiback, Fiset & Zalduendo LLP, spoke to Newsweek about the ongoing court case.

She noted that the prosecution may struggle to find a motive for the alleged murders by Alex Murdaugh, as he is confronted by a slew of other criminal accusations.

Murdaugh is also facing a string of fraud charges and has been accused of stealing more than $6 million from his clients, during his time as a lawyer.

Fiset told Newsweek: "The prosecution opened their case today by laying out some of their crucial evidence and garnering sympathy for the victims who had no defensive wounds 'as if they didn't see a threat coming from their attacker.'

"The prosecution pointed out that Alex Murdaugh could be heard on a video his son Paul sent a friend right before the murders, which presumably places Murdaugh at the scene of the crime around the time of the murders.

"The evidence will also include a raincoat found at Alex Murdaugh's parents' house with large traces of gunpowder on it.

"The sheer amount of scandals and crimes surrounding Alex Murdaugh will make it difficult for the prosecutors to narrow down a motive for this crime and determine which evidence is most relevant to their case – and the defense will object to most of that evidence."

Fiset also predicted how the court case could play out over the next few weeks.

"The defense will attempt to poke holes in the prosecution's evidence while depicting the Murdaughs as a loving family.

"They will portray Alex Murdaugh as a devoted father and husband who was overcome with grief by the murder of his wife and son."

The Murdaugh family has remained in the spotlight for the past few years and a documentary regarding the scandals and alleged wrongdoing tied to the family aired last year.

The family, which has boasted several generations of prominent lawyers, was the centre-piece of the HBO documentary entitled Low Country: The Murdaugh Dynasty.

The show aired in November 2022 and the publicity blurb for the show said it "questions the unchecked power of privilege - and the trail of death and destruction left in one family's wake."

Newsweek has contacted Alex Murdaugh's lawyer, Dick Harpootlian, for comment.