Judge in Alex Murdaugh case says he’s ‘not surprised’ jury came to guilty verdict so quickly

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The judge who presided over the Alex Murdaugh murder trial in South Carolina said he was not surprised the jury took just three hours to arrive at a guilty verdict.

Judge Clifton Newman, speaking to students and faculty at his alma mater Cleveland State University on Tuesday, said the jury was paying close attention to the trial and 75 witnesses, so just three hours for deliberation was not surprising.

“When they go back to deliberate, they don’t want to look at those 800 exhibits. They don’t want to spend their time combing through everything they have laboriously sat there and listened to for that period of time,” Mr Newman said.

Earlier this month, Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the heinous double murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul.

The disgraced attorney was handed two life sentences without parole in a case that captivated the United States for the best part of two years.

Jurors took less than three hours to reach their unanimous verdict, deciding, beyond any reasonable doubt, Murdaugh had killed his wife and son that night.

On 7 June 2021, Maggie and Paul were brutally gunned down at dog kennels inside the powerful family’s vast 1,700-acre Moselle estate.

Murdaugh shot his son, 22, twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels. The second shot blew his brain out.

Prosecutors said after killing Paul, Murdaugh grabbed a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle and opened fire on Maggie as she tried to flee. She was shot five times, twice in the head, after she fell to her knees.

“Once the defendant takes the stand and testifies almost everything is fair game at that point. We’ll see where it goes,” the judge said.

“I’m told the person who is killed will haunt, will come back, and they’ll never be able to get over the moment in time that they took that person’s life,” Mr Newman said and added that he did not know if this was “a spiritual belief or just my view of the world”.