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Erin Burnett Outfront

Jury Finds Alex Murdaugh Guilty Of Murdering Wife And Son. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 02, 2023 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

And OUTFRONT tonight, we have breaking news. A jury in the Alex Murdaugh murder trial has reached a verdict, into whether the disgraced attorney is guilty of killing his wife and son.

Jurors deliberating for only about three hours, okay? Three hours after hearing more than 70 witnesses over six weeks. And we are now standing by for the court to resume, and that verdict to be read. Dianne Gallagher, as you know, has been covering this for the very beginning. She's OUTFRONT live in Walterboro, South Carolina, outside the courthouse.

And, Dianne, I understand the verdict came in just about 15 minutes ago, we are waiting to hear what it is. Three hours of deliberations, what else do you understand is happening here right now?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Erin, as you can imagine, this is a very fluid situation. We have seen sort of movement of the cameras inside the courtroom, signaling that there is something going on but we are still focused on that, as we are on break.

According to the pool, at 6:41 pm, the jury let the clerk know that they had reached a verdict. Now, of course, we do not know what the verdict is, Alex Murdaugh is facing four felony charges here, the most serious as the murder of his wife, Maggie, and his son Paul.

As you mentioned, about three hours of deliberations after a lengthy closing argument from both the prosecution, the defense, and a rebuttal from the prosecution, this afternoon before the judge charged the jury and send them back. We did know that they were going to deliberate. We were told at least until about 10 p.m. tonight, that they were not ordering dinner at this point. They did have snacks and coffee and stuff.

And according to Randi Kaye, our colleague who is inside of that courtroom now, as soon as he saw the flurry of activity, she rushed in there, that they did request some materials, including monitors to potentially watch some of those videos. But shortly after we were told that, that is when the jury no defecation came in.

I can tell you that a few moments ago, the defense attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, Jim Griffin, Maggie Fox, Philip Barber, they all walked behind me, actually, we are hearing order called in the court at this moment, Erin. And we are going to be seeing Judge Newman walking up to his dais there to address the court.

Again, the jury notifying the clerk just 20 minutes ago that they had a verdict.

BURNETT: Yeah. And, Dianne, as you're speaking here, this is the judge, Judge Newman as you said.


BURNETT: Let's listen in.

CLIFTON: We'll bring the jury.

BURNETT: All right. You are looking at live pictures. That's Alex Murdaugh there waiting for the verdict. The jury we understand has a verdict in this case. These are -- this is life what you are watching right now. Judge Newman, who was presiding, has asked the jury to come in, which is coming elsewhere in this room. And you are looking at Alex Murdaugh here, awaiting news of his fate. Four felony counts, two for the murder of his wife Maggie, and son Paul, convicted, the minimum sentence would be 30 years to life. They indicated they will not go for the death penalty.

CLIFTON: Thank you. Madam Forelady, if you will stand for me.

Have you reached a verdict?

FOREWOMAN: Yes, sir, we have.

CLIFTON: Is it unanimous?

FOREWOMAN: Yes sir, it is.

CLIFTON: All right, if you will pass it up to the clerk who will pass it to me. And you may be seated.


The defendant will rise.

Madam Clerk, you may publish the verdict starting with the back, not with the -- let's see, I'll tell you again. Starting with the back. Flip them over one by one.

CLERK: Okay.

Docket number 2022-GS-15-00592, the state of South Carolina, county of Colleton, in the court of general sessions, in the term of 2022 July, the state versus Richard Alexander Murdaugh, defendant, indictment for murder, SC code 16-3-0010, CDR code, 0116 -- guilty verdict. Signed by the forelady, 3/2/23.

Docket number 2022-GS-15-00593, the state of South Carolina, county of Colleton, in the court of general sessions, the July term of 2022, the state versus Richard Alexander Murdoch, defendant, indictment for murder, SC code 16-3-0010, CDR code, 0116, verdict, guilty. Signed by the forelady, date 3/2/23.

Docket number 2022 GS-15-00595, the state of South Carolina, county of Colleton, court of general session, July term 2022, the state versus Richard Alexander Murdaugh, defendant, indictment for possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, SC code 16-3-23-0490, CDR code, 0549, verdict guilty. Signed by the foreperson of the jury, date 3/2/23.

Docket number 2022, GS-15-00594, the state of South Carolina, county of Colleton, court of general sessions, July term 2022, the state versus Richard Alexander Murdaugh, defendant, indictment for possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, SC code 16-23-04 90, CDR code, 0549, verdict guilty. Signed by the foreperson of the jury, 3/2/23.

CLIFTON: Thank you. Madam forelady and members of the jury, if that is the verdict and each of every juror, please let it be known by raising your right hands.

All right, thank you.

Any individual polling requested?

Madam clerk, you will need to individually poll the jury according to the juror numbers.

CLERK: Number 193, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 254, is this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 326, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror six -- juror 530, was this your verdict?

JUROR: Yes. CLERK: Is this your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 544, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 572, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is this still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 578, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 589, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 630, was this your verdict?



CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 729, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 826, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Juror 864, was this your verdict?


CLERK: Is it still your verdict?


CLERK: Your honor, the jury has been polled.

CLIFTON: Thank you. The jury has been polled, and the verdict is a unanimous verdict.

If you will bring the alternate juror out and have her have a seat in the audience please.

You can stand there, or you could sit there, whatever you prefer, okay.

Are there any post trial motions?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not from the state, Your Honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor, we would just renew our previously argued motions for directed verdict, and at this point, on those grounds we would make a motion for a mistrial and to set aside the verdict.

CLIFTON: By the state, responds?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your Honor, based on our previous arguments, we would submit that the case probably went to the jury, and the verdict was proper, and we rely on those arguments.

CLIFTON: We have been here not 28 days, the first few days, the jury selection, and the remainder receiving testimony, an overwhelming amount of testimony, and evidence that was presented to the jury for the jury's consideration. As I indicated to the jury, the charge on the law, that this was a matter solely for jury -- the jury to determine. The court found at the end that the states case, that there is sufficient evidence to find the defendant guilty of the evidence was believed by the jury.

Likewise, at the end of the defense's case, when the motion was renewed, the court found that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find the defendant guilty. The jury has now considered the evidence for a significant period of time, and the evidence of guilt is overwhelming, and I deny the motion.

The -- Mr. Murdaugh, you are now found guilty of two counts of murder, involving your wife and your son, two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime, the burden now comes upon the court to impose a sentence given the lateness of the hour, and the victims rights that must be taken into consideration and complied with under the victims bill of rights and considered what I have anticipated to be a number of people who might have something to say regarding sentencing, we will defer sentencing to a later date.

Of course, the minimum sentence for murder is 30 years, the maximum sentence is life imprisonment, as to each count. And the -- on the weapons charge, the sentence is up to five years, or five years which has to be concurrent, if a life sentence is imposed. Concurrent if a life sentence is imposed.

When would you all like to reconvene for sentencing? I would like to give everyone an adequate opportunity to prepare for it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state would be ready at 9:30 in the morning, Your Honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can do it at 9:30 tomorrow morning also.


NEWMAN: All right. The defendant is remanded in the custody of the Colleton County sheriff's department.

And he may be taken away.

Madam forelady and members of the jury, I want to thank you on behalf of the citizens of the state of South Carolina and your fellow citizens of Colleton County. You did not volunteer for this service. You were called upon, being summoned to appear in the providence that brought you to this point in time, at least weeks in time.

I know that all of you have been here at great sacrifice, particularly the juror whose job was on the line until a miracle happened, I guess, that allowed him to be able to leave, rather than to say, rather than leave after two, three weeks.

But I want to thank each one of you all individually and collectively. It's not often that you're called upon to sit in judgment of the actions of the fellow man that you are all responded. I give due consideration to the evidence. I will make no comment now, as to the extent or the overwhelming nature of the evidence, but certainly, the verdict that your reach is supported by the evidence, circumstantial evidence, the direct evidence, all of the evidence pointed to only one conclusion, that's the conclusion that you all reached.

So, I applied you all for it, as a group, and as a unit, and individually, evaluating the evidence and coming to a proper conclusion, as you saw the lies, as you saw the facts. Now that you've served for the next year, you are not eligible to serve again. Of course, many people never get called upon, but you are not eligible for the next year. For two additional years, you can be exempt from service because no person is required to serve on jury duty in this court more often than once every three years. Tomorrow morning at 9:30, we will reconvene for sentencing. You all

have no role in that, because this is solely up to the judge, to me. You are welcome to come back, if you want to, and be a part of the audience, if you like.

Also, I want to thank the alternate juror, who was locked away in a room by herself for these hours, who has hung in there during that period of time, I want to thank you as well.

Madam Clerk, what do you have to tell your jurors?

CLERK: Thank you for your service. What the judge said is final.

And I think we can release them tonight. Bring them back in the morning?

NEWMAN: No, they're off jury duty. They can come back, if they like.

CLERK: You can come back if you would like.

NEWMAN: And you don't have to if you don't want to. Typically, I've seen jurors wanting to see the end result of --

BURNETT: Well, you saw Alex Murdaugh let out there with handcuffs on, guilty on all four counts, guilty of murdering his wife and son unanimously by that jury of seven men and five women. As he walked out, they didn't look at him. He was, it appeared, at least from what we could see in the camera was on him, as each of those counts was read, lacking emotion that we could see, certainly.


His other son, who had testified on his behalf, seemed to show more of that behind him in the courtroom.

Dianne Gallagher joins me again from the court. She has, of course, been there through all of this.

Dianne, they're going to reconvene. He made that very clear tomorrow, but he kept emphasizing, Judge Newman there, the overwhelming nature of the evidence.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah and look, that was something that was emphasized in the closing arguments of the prosecution, acknowledging, from the very start, that this is a case based on circumstantial evidence, but based on a lot of circumstantial evidence. They created an exceptionally detailed timeline, using GPS data, cell phone data, the last time a phone was opened, when text messages were received and videos that were recorded.

And it was that video that was found on Paul Murdaugh's phone. You know, Marianne Proctor, the sister of Maggie Murdaugh, testified that they often called Paul Murdaugh, a little detective. We found out that was because he had been finding pills that his father had been taking and confront him about it. But it does look like perhaps that little detective's final case that

he may have cracked here was, in fact, that video on his phone that put his father at the crime scene minutes before the state says Paul and Maggie were murdered. The jury said that Alex Murdaugh is the one who did it. If not for that video, this state may never have even been able to charge him. No one knew about that video until March of 2022, around nine months after Paul and Maggie were killed.

I was struck by the lack of emotion from Alex Murdaugh. He just sort of nodded his head, stared straight faced, you know? I wrote it down, he was shaking and straight face as he listened to that. He didn't look back at his family or at Buster, his son.

That's something that we've seen him do this entire trial. He's had moments where he's been incredibly emotional, shaking, crying, making sounds throughout this entire trial. And there was nothing there from him, as he was found guilty of killing Maggie and Paul.

The judge talked about just the amount of evidence, but really the amount of witnesses. You said this, Erin. More than 70 witnesses, nearly six weeks. This was supposed to be a three-week trial. And we had roughly three hours of deliberation after they sat through that for nearly six weeks, listening to graphic testimony. Sometimes extremely difficult to understand testimony about cell phones, about the way that the cars were driving.

So, to see this come tomorrow morning again, the state says they're not seeking the death penalty in this. Between 30 years to life in prison for those murder charges, again, for killing Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Dianne. And we're going to be coming back to Dianne momentarily.

I want to bring now, Dave Aronberg, state attorney in Palm Beach County, Florida, Bernarda Villalona, former prosecutor, and Sara Azari, criminal defense attorney.

Let me just start with you, Dave. As we watched this together, his lack of emotion, especially, and I think this is so crucial and I and pointed it out, there were moments in his trial where he was, you know, shaking, crying, making noises. It was absolutely emotional us that we could see tonight.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEAC COUNTY, FLORIDA: Yeah, Erin. What you saw is a professional manipulator. You saw right through it, his real self is. He's used to manipulating others through his words and emotions. It's not Paul, but Paul-Paul when he takes the stand. It's not Maggie, but Mags. He cries on cue.

What you saw there was the real Alex Murdaugh, held accountable for everything that he did. And it's long overdue. But you know, I think it's telling you some more emotion from Buster and others.

BURNETT: His son. ARONBERG: His son, correct. This is a guy who lied to his family from

day one. And it is ironic in the end that it was the victim, Paul Murdaugh, who solved his own murder.

BURNETT: It's incredible, right, what Dianne was reporting.

And, of course, Buster had testified on his father's behalf. Bernarda, very clear what the judge stands here, saying, mentioning multiple times, the evidence of guilt is overwhelming, overwhelming nature of the evidence. He's very clear, as they're coming into 9:30 a.m. sentencing, which is fully at the discretion of the judge, 30 years to life. Do you have any question on where this will land?

BERNARDA VILLALONA, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I have no question that Judge Newman is going to sentence Alex Murdaugh to life. And even though the life sentence is not going to bring back Paul or Maggie Murdaugh, it still holds him accountable for taking the life of two individuals, up to human beings, and so brutally. The only just sentence in here is life.

BURNETT: And, Sara, when they went through jury by juror, right? Is this your verdict? Do you stand by it?

Not a pause of the seven men, five women. No pause, no nothing. Every single one of them, yes, yes, yes, yes.


They were completely in agreement and it took them only three hours after 28 days of testimony.

SARA AZARI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yeah, Erin. Look, they convicted him with conviction, you know? I think that early on, these jurors had made up their mind and to me, look, the jury has spoken. I've had my heartbroken by jurors many times over the years the last two decades.

But, you know, I really did not expect this. I did not expect a guilty verdict. I did not expect such a quick verdict. Obviously, quick usually means guilty.

I definitely thought that there would at least be among jury, only because, yes, we've had this big lie, but there was also some explanation for it. There was also a context for it, because while he was lying about being at the kennels, he was also insisting on data that was exculpatory to him. He was asking the agents to get that.

So, I really thought there was going to be some what of a struggle in this jury room, and, you know, I think they could not get past the lie.

And also, frankly, I question how much of this was a jury of his own peers, you know? This is a small town. Everybody knew the Murdaughs. A lot of jurors were dismissed early on because of their acquaintance and knowledge of this family and its power, privilege.


AZARI: And I am not questioning any jury misconduct. But, you know, I just don't think that, given the state of the evidence that this was the expected result.

BURNETT: That's interesting. You feel the same way at all, David? It's interesting what star is saying. I think someone -- this is exactly the result that would've expected. But she's obviously saying no, you could've reached a different conclusion, it surprises her they came to this verdict so quickly. Three hours.

ARONBERG: I was. I agree with Sarah that I was surprised it was that quick. I mean, this is a three-week trial. For a three hour verdict, that was surprising.

But the evidence was, in my mind, overwhelming, as the judge said twice. It's that video. That video that Alex never accounted for. You know, he used to separate guns, he changed his clothes, he had everything thought out, had the fake alibi.

BURNETT: Two separate guns, the designed to make it look like two shooters, right? This was a complex cover-up.

ARONBERG: Correct and I still thought it would likely be a hung jury, but it could've gone -- I didn't think he would be acquitted because two jurors reportedly last Thursday were crying with Alex on the stand. But that was Thursday.

It was a different Alex on the stand Friday. More combative one, more defensive one, and the prosecutors I think we're more prepared to go after him on Friday than they were Thursday.

BURNETT: It's interesting, Bernarda, what Dave is saying that, you know, when Murdaugh took the stand himself and he was emotional, he was crying, talking about finding his son's body. And what Dave is saying that there were jurors at that time who appeared to be emotional along with him. Does that context surprise you, when you consider the quickness with which they reach this verdict?

VILLALONA: Well, you've got to think so when Alex Murdaugh testified, you saw two different Alex Murdaughs. You saw one Alex Murdaugh in direct examination, where he was able to give you the tears, able to give you the snot and crocodile tears, and make it seem so genuine.

However, once the cross-examination began, it was a different story. More importantly, just like how Dave said, a different story on Friday the second day of cross-examination. You saw a different version of Alex Murdaugh.

But one thing that the prosecution emphasized is that this showed that Alex Murdaugh put on for you. He also is trying to put up on a show like that. Why? Because he's a civil litigator, he's a trial attorney, he's investigated and done criminal trials and investigated, and aside from, that that's the same performance he gave in order to take millions of dollars from people that he loved, trusted, and worked with. So, this is the Alex Murdaugh show, so many different faces and he

knew how to act and play the part.

BURNETT: Sara, what did you -- go ahead Sara, yeah?

AZARI: You know the eggs this morning, that juror that got booted out and wanted her eggs before she left? I didn't take that lightly. You know, because in my experience, when jurors bond that, way where they're bringing food and sort of have a friendship developed over a six-week trial, it's usually not in favor of the defense.

And when I heard about the eggs, I thought, I wonder if this is a quick verdict and a guilty verdict but I still really thought that given the evidence, that this would be hung.

BURNETT: Can I ask you, Sara, follow-up to that, as you were watching him here the verdict, right? And the numbers of the case lot being read out, what was your reaction to watching him? Other than that kind of vague bobbing around he was doing, emotionless?

AZARI: You mean as the verdict was read just now, right?

BURNETT: Yeah, yes.

AZARI: You know, I disagree with Dave. You know, I've had clients unfortunately convicted. Everybody acts reacts differently.

It's no different than someone gets arrested, we expect that they would jump up and down and say, oh, I'm not the right guy.


Everybody responds differently. He might have been stunned. He might have been shocked. You know, I don't, you know, the emotion that, to me, he displayed every time there was a mention of Paul, every time he saw the gory pictures of his wife and son and broke down, there was nothing crocodile-y about any of those.

To me, that was very genuine and authentic. No matter how big of a manipulator he truly is. But then, you know, you can't really compare apples and oranges. How he responds to his essentially his demise, you know? I think people will respond differently.

BURNETT: Right. Well, Dave, I suppose, one could see how he responded as crocodile tears or as someone who's able to do one thing and then have some sort of remorse. Like, who knows? All these things could all be true.

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Right and I believe, as the prosecutors did, that he loved Paul and he loved Maggie. But as the prosecutors said tonight, he loved Alex more. And that is what convicted him.

He did all this to protect himself and for a while, it worked. It worked because the -- finances were going to be exposed was canceled. He got sympathy immediately, but then it started to unravel and the key part was that video that Alex never accounted for, and that's why you he had to take the stand and lie further, and the jury didn't buy it.

BURNETT: The one when he talked about the video that was on his son's phone.

So, Bernarda, where -- here we are tonight that -- and obviously, the state immediately said 9:30 tomorrow morning, we are ready to go. A pause, not a long one, then the defense that they would also be ready at 9:30 for the sentencing from Judge Newman.

You, I know, are confident that this will be the maximum, right, Bernarda?

BERNARDA VILLALONA, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, because I've also seen Judge Newman's sentence another individual a couple of months ago, and in that sentencing, I could tell you what to expect. Expect Judge Newman to give a speech. Expect Judge Newman to give you emotion. Expect Judge Newman to actually show you his discussed for how these two human beings were killed.

But let's not forget, it's not over for Alex Murdaugh. So, while he will be sentenced tomorrow, doesn't matter how many years he gets, whether he gets life for each of the murders, he still has 99 other charges to answer for. So, the question will be on those cases is whether the prosecution is going to move forward on those cases in the sense of, will Alex Murdaugh plead guilty or will he go to trial, or whether the DA decides not to move forward because he's already serving life?

BURNETT: All right. All of you stay with me. I want to go back to Dianne outside the courthouse.

Dianne, the defense team, I understand, just walk past where you were. You had a chance to speak to them briefly, what did they say?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Defense attorney, Jim Griffin, who did the closing argument for Alex Murdaugh today actually walked by, I asked if he had any kind of comment. He told me, obviously they were very disappointed in the verdict. It would not be appropriate to say anything further until tomorrow after the sentencing phase.

He then walked away very solemn, both he -- Dick Harpootlian, Maggie Fox, the entire team walking out together, going past this very large row of media, as you can see here. A lot of cameras setup, there's a podium set up. They just kind of walked by. This is not a team that has been shy about making comments to the media, as they left.

But it was a very somber tone of them. They kind of just put his head down and said, you know, I'm disappointed, and then kept walking on. That sentencing phase tomorrow is something that the defense is looking ahead to, to see if perhaps Alex Murdaugh will not be sentenced to life in prison.

I can tell you that after court concluded, once people were leaving the room, I saw the state attorney general, Alan Wilson, give a major, huge hugs to Creighton Waters, who's been the lead prosecutor on this case against Alex Murdaugh. Afterward, it was a very large embrace. They kind of patted each other's backs there and then left, walked out of the courtroom.

We are hoping that we will hear from the prosecution, after they exit the courthouse sometime soon, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Dianne, thank you very much.

And as Dianne hopefully she gets a chance to get a rhythm. We will go back to her. In the meantime, I want to bring in Bill Nettles to the conversation, the former U.S. attorney for the district of South Carolina.

So, Bill, you know, here we are. We will able to watch this, cameras in this courtroom, so we saw this trial. We saw this moment now, a verdict. You know the jurisdiction, you know Alex Murdaugh. You know him and you've watched his trial.

You thought also, I don't know if you heard this conversation, but you also that this could've been a long jury.

BILL NETTLES, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA: Yeah, yeah, I mean, I didn't know what was going to happen, obviously. But I felt that the whole jury was clearly likely. And I mean, I do agree with your other panel, as you talked about how, I mean, I did think when it came back this quickly that it was more likely than not going to be guilty. I mean, not guilty. So, you know, it's a little bit of a surprise it was this quick.

BURNETT: So, right. But again, it's interesting when Sarah and Dave and Bernardo were talking about, this discussion about a possible hung jury, the surprise that this happened so quickly and so unanimously.


You know, Sara was honing in on that while he admitted to lying about this video, he had reasons, he had excuses. You felt that those may have worked with this jury?

NETTLES: Yeah, I mean look, the one thing you can clearly take away from this was, I mean, he had been lying to a lot of people that he loved for a long time. And so, you know, he had obviously gotten to be pretty good at it.

The question was going to be whether, you know, I really do believe that a lot of this came down to, I mean, I think we're going to find -- talk to the jurors after it's over that a lot of them will just say, I just didn't believe him.

And so, you know, that was a double edged sword, right? If you went in there, they believed him, that he would have likely been found not guilty. But you know, once they decide that he's willing to put himself out there, they don't believe him, you know, that's kind of a tough hill to get over. BURNETT: And do you, just the context, because you know him, and you

know that we all understand, right? This was a small town, this was a prominent family, he was a well-known lawyer.

NETTLES: Okay, let me stop you right there on something right now. First of all, we knew each other, right? I'm not sure I've got his number on my phone, okay? But we knew each other, we knew each other were.

They were not prominent anywhere other than Hampton and, you know, those two counties. I mean, other than that, they're not a prominent family in South Carolina.

I mean, just as a South Carolinian, I'm going to ask you all to quit calling him a prominent family. I mean, they were a family and a very insular part of the world that made a lot of money. We're starting to find out how they made the money, but no, they were in prominent.

BURNETT: I guess you could say colloquially prominent.

NETTLES: In their --

BURNETT: But to that point, let me ask you because I know that's something that has been raised. The broader point I'm making here is that there were many people on the jury who were not selected, right? Because they knew the family and they had links to the family, whatever that may have been.

Did you have any questions about the jury composition itself, in that context?

NETTLES: Yeah. Okay, to your point, yes. In Colleton and Hampton County, they are prominent, which is two rural, very insular parts of the world, okay?

I did have some concern whenever they said five people on the jury had never even heard of the case. I mean, I didn't know which way that was going to bring, but that kind of cause me some concern. Yeah. Yeah.

And you know, I was worried about how, you know, I do think that one of the great things about this verdict, look. This isn't justice for Maggie. This isn't justice for the son.

This is -- I mean, because -- none of these verdicts will bring anybody back, okay? So any talk about this is justice for the victims is not how this works. The people, like what this does is it takes the foot off of the throat of justice and in Colleton and Hampton County. And now we can maybe see what happens when we have checks and balances, you know, stopping unbridled power.

This is what happens whenever you have an insular part of the world anywhere in the world, not just the South, and you've got no checks and balances, and unbridled power. And so, finally the throne is going to be taken off of justice in that part of the world and I hope that everybody lives there have has a better life going forward because of it. BURNETT: Well, I think that's a really significant thing to say,

profound thing to say.

Let's go to Dianne Gallagher again on the ground. Dianne?

GALLAGHER: Hey, Erin. I'm here with Justin Bamberg. He is a state lawmaker, but he's also an attorney who represents about ten of Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial crime victims.

You've been here, I've seen almost every day inside the courtroom watching the jurors. I first want to know, three hours of deliberation. You and I have talked a lot about this. What is your initial reaction to such a quick verdict and a guilty verdict?

JUSTIN BAMBERG, LAWYER REPRESENTING MURDAUGH FINANCIAL VICTIMS: Yeah, so I'm not going to lie, I was a little surprised at how fast the jury came back. I was hopeful. I was expecting a guilty verdict. But to get one that fast really kind of surprised me.

But the moment I heard verdicts in, I said oh, they found him guilty. There weren't buying what he was selling and I truly think that the jury recognized this man lied to everybody. He lied to clients -- lied to clients who died, lied to family friends, he lied to 911, that he was lying to them.

GALLAGHER: We've talked a lot about the financial crimes they were entered into this, even though this was not a financial trial. But it was part of the prosecution's motive theory. What does this mean for your clients? Have you spoken to any of them after this verdict came in?


BAMBERG: My clients have been texting me, calling. It's bittersweet for them to, you know? They're celebrating for Paul and Maggie's family, -- who were suffering. They were happy to hear Alex admit, you know, yes, I lied. Yes, I stole.

But that's not enough, right? Every single person who's been victimized by Alex has wanted one thing, complete accountability. Complete accountability started here today with this jury verdict and everybody is happy about that.

GALLAGHER: We have talked so much about the fact that was fascinated so many people about this case is the power dynamic. This is a family that has had legal power in this part of the state, in the Lowcountry for a century. A lot of people, your clients even, have said that this is somebody who's gotten away with things. You said accountability.

What do you think this means though going forward for those financial cases? We have a guilty verdict, we will find out about the sentencing tomorrow. Does this mean anything for your case that's going forward now?

BAMBERG: Alex is facing 90-some-odd financial. Some people will say alleged, alleged. There is no alleged about it, he did it. He stole from these people and he's going to be held accountable.

We can only hope that at this point, Alex will own it, he will plead guilty. He will spare all of his other victims from the emotional toil of going through this process, the trial process.

It's nothing to fight about now, right? There is no way to save himself, he's going to go to prison for a very long time. I am anticipating a life without parole sentence tomorrow. That's what I think.

GALLAGHER: Based on what?

BAMBERG: Just based on the depraved nature of this crime. He killed his family. You were found guilty and because of who you were, all right, sentencing serves two purposes. One is to punish. The other is to deter.

Everybody watching should be deterred from ever doing anything like this after that sentence is rendered.

GALLAGHER: There's a pastor who walks around here outside the courthouse saying, with a sign for justice. He came out here saying, justice, justice.

Is this -- even though this is for the murders of Maggie and Paul, is this the road to justice? This began to be justice for some of these other alleged victims? I say alleged because he has not been convicted yet. I know he's admitted to a lot of it on the stand, but is this road to justice, a beginning of that for them?

BAMBERG: This is a very bright light. If Alex Murdaugh can be convicted by jury of his people for murdering his own wife and his son, they can absolutely get justice. It's a very, very bright light.

GALLAGHER: Just alluding again, Erin, the attorneys who were there with you have said the same thing. There were a lot of us watching this.

The defense made a very significant argument about the presence of reasonable doubt. This was a circumstantial case. There was a lot of circumstantial evidence, but it was a circumstantial case. We don't know if we have the murder weapons. As far as we know, we do not. There was no video that actually showed the crime. There were no eyewitnesses, and yet, we have a three hour verdict.

What does that say about perhaps his decision to testify, how important is that video with his voice on it? So many people identifying him, admitting then that he lied. Do you think that may have been the turning point or was it much more?

BAMBERG: I think the big part of it as Alex was represented by lawyers who were not from here, from this part of the world. We have people get convicted when there is nobody's. Forget firearms, you can't prove someone is dead, you just know no one has seen them, right? So these people are familiar with that. Alex lied about the last

moments he saw his family alive. That is a tough thing to get around and you can come up with, you know, fighting this at one point during closing. Jim Murphy says, you know, it brings up drug cartel or something as an injection.

People were not buying that, right? Why would you lie to law enforcement about the last time you saw your family alive, if you are truly concerned about finding the person who did it? You wouldn't.

And these jurors displayed attentiveness, but also importantly, they displayed common sense. Not falling for smoke and mirrors, you know? Circumstantial evidence can be strong and in this case, it was extremely strong.

GALLAGHER: Thank you so much, Justin Bamberg, I appreciate your time at all the time you've given us during this trial here.

Erin, I'm going to toss back to you. We are continuing to get reaction though from all of the attorneys who represent the many alleged victims of Alex Murdaugh. They have been really just constant around this courthouse. This is not their case, obviously. But they are invested because of what this does mean to their clients. And the potential for them to potentially, they feel, get justice.

BURNETT: Yeah, absolutely. All right, we are going to be going back to Diane.

Now, we do understand there may be what looks to possibly be a live presser with the lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters. They've been setting up some microphones there.

So, obviously, if he comes to those microphones, we are going to be taking that live. You heard Dianne say, she had a chance to briefly speak to the defense team when they left. They often loquacious -- had nothing to say this time.


But we do unanticipated possibly hearing from the lead prosecutor in just a few moments.

As we await that, our legal experts are back. Also defense attorney, Misty Marris, joins the conversation.

And, Misty, I want to begin with Justin Bamberg and Dianne just finished. He was saying, look, on a certain level, no murder weapons, no witnesses, right? As Dianne was going through the things they did not have, and yet, such an incredibly quick and firm, and a clear verdict. Does it surprise you?

MISTY MARRIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I was shocked that the verdict came back so quickly with all of the witnesses, 70 witnesses in a three- week trial. There was so much to parse through.

But this comes down to one thing. The jury determines credibility and they clearly did not believe Alex Murdaugh. The minute he got on that stand, and he said, believe me now, after he told a calculated and consistent lie about the most important fact of the case, the last person to see his family alive, the jury simply wasn't having it.

It's very difficult to ask the jury to believe you in one context, but not another. Had it just been the lies of the financial crimes, maybe he could've gotten over that. But once it was relevant and, quite frankly, imperative to the analysis of what happened that night, the jury was simply not buying it. It's very clear from the speed of this.

BURNETT: And, Misty, do you believe that was a mistake or do you they have no choice to put him on the stand? Or was that mistake that all this rested upon?

MARRIS: So, I actually think he had nothing to lose because of all the financial crimes that he was facing that he pretty much all admitted to understand. But I believe he is going on the stand is what sank him. Because if he had never taken, never testified, then the defense had all these avenues to pursue reasonable doubt.

But he got up there, he had no choice but to fall on this. Unfortunately, it showed that he was an admitted liar.

BURNETT: All right. Misty, stay with us. All of you stay with us.

As you see those microphones, we anticipate the lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters, maybe coming out and addressing the media in just a moment. So, we're going to take a brief break. We'll bring you back to that when it begins.



BURNETT: All right hour, breaking news coverage continues. Right now, we're waiting the live press conference or possibly by the lead prosecutor, after that victory for them. The verdict in the South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh trial found guilty on all four counts of the killings of his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul. They were less than three hours of deliberations today after 28 days a trial.

As we await that, Dave Aronberg, state attorney from Palm Beach County, let me ask you. There's been a lot of discussion and interesting in the conversation here, surprised how quick this verdict was. And that several people saying, of our experts, saying they thought it could've been a hunger trial.

Everyone seeing it comes down to the moment, right? Where his dead son has video of him on the cell phone and he lied about it and comes up with an excuse. And you believe it all comes down to that, in what way?

DAVE ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY: That's why he took the stand. He wasn't going to take the stand. He overrode the opinions of his lawyers because he knew he had to answer for the fact that his voice was on that video. He was there at the murder scene just three minutes before the murders.

And so, he got on the stand and he concocted an entirely new story he had never told anyone before, which really didn't make sense. He said he was so paranoid because of the opioids that he lied. He especially was so worried about being considered a suspect by SLED, the state law enforcement agency, did not trust them.

This is a guy, mind you, who's a former part-time prosecutor, who wave around a police badge to get special privilege, who install blue lights in his car, and now he's paranoid about police? If he's so paranoid by these pills then he lied to everyone, but not paranoid to actually kill people. So it didn't make sense.

Plus, one more thing. The 911 call, he lied on that call. That was before he was a suspect. He called police, police did not call him. And so, this was yet another major lie that the jury didn't buy.

BURNETT: They certainly didn't and we're not a, as you say, it all came down to the credibility. The fact that the jury just decided he had none, and I should be very clear here, the judge making it very clear in his comments, and I know we will hear more from him tomorrow morning at 9:30.

But making it very clear that he agreed with what the decision the jury made. He called the evidence overwhelming more than once, specifically addressing the fact that the evidence, such that it was, was circumstantial.

BERNARDA VILLALONA, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, and you can see, by his statement, there was no chance that this judge was looking to forgive the defense a motion to set aside the verdict, because he agreed with the testimony that was submitted and agreed with the verdict by this jury.

And so, of course he was paying attention to it this entire trial and you can see also how a bit disgusted he is. I can tell, based on a prior sentencing that I had seen him conduct and I'm telling you, tomorrow's no holds barred. He's going to let Alex Murdaugh know how he feels and how he was a terror (ph) on that day on June 7th, 2021.

BURNETT: And, Misty, what is your reaction to Alex Murdaugh's seeming lack of reaction? As a defense attorney, when the verdict was read, and the significance of that. I want to contrast that with, obviously, moments during the trial presented with images of his dead wife and son, when he seemed to break down.

MARRIS: I mean, it really fits into the prosecutions take, which is, all of this is an act. Not to say that he isn't regretful or sad. I agree with what prosecutors said, he did love his wife, he just loved himself more. And now we contrast it with his stoic exterior here.

But remember, he's also a lawyer. I can't imagine that he thought he had it in the bag, right? He probably was preparing himself for this result, especially given the timeline. He boxed himself into.

Even if you believe him, he's still there at the murder scene. Say the jury buys his story, he's there. It's a really, really difficult situation to get out of.

BURNETT: And we do, as we await this possible prosecutors addressing the media, we did just get some video here we will show of Alex Murdaugh leaving the court. There he is. Obviously, he's handcuffed, Dave.


We saw him prior to this walk by the jury, but there he is.

Tell me what's happening here? So he's leaving and then what happens here on the night when you are convicted of a double murder? And you are awaiting sentencing the next morning.

ARONBERG: He's going back to jail. He will not be a free man probably for the rest of his life. And he's got a lot to think about tonight because the gig is up. He's been exposed for what he really is, a con man and a killer.

And so, he's going to be thinking about tonight and then he's going to go back to court, where he will get his sentence. I agree with Bernarda that he's going to get the maximum sentence. This judge seems like he has zero tolerance for this guy.

BURNETT: And we should be clear, right? They should not go for the death penalty. They want life and that would be life the minimum for murder is 30 years, right? And it certainly did not seem from anything the judge indicated that he would go there.

And the judge is the one who will make this sentencing decision. Bernarda, the jury, he said, can come and appear in the audience, if you want. But the jury has no role tomorrow.

So, Misty, what do you make about the video we just saw? Of him walking out, right? This night before, right? Convicted of a double murder of his wife and son in handcuffs. Here he is just leaving a moment ago. He will be sentenced tomorrow morning.

MARRIS: Yeah, I would imagine he's got to be doing self reflecting and I'm sure he's thinking about, look, he's a master manipulator, right, Erin? That's what we've seen. I'm wondering if he's thinking to himself, I really thought that I could change the narrative, and I really thought my testimony would knock this the other way.

It's impossible to tell, but he's certainly standing there now, facing a life sentence for the murder of his family. Even if he was facing it for the financial crimes, this is certainly something that I'm sure he's very, very self reflective about this time.

BURNETT: All right, thank you both very much.

And thanks to all of you for joining us. Please stay with us because we are anticipating the lead prosecutor, Creighton Waters, coming to his microphones momentarily for a possible press conference.

"AC360" will carry on with that after this.