Judge who presided over Alex Murdaugh trial didn’t expect the ‘interest and notoriety’ surrounding it
By Alta Spells, CNN
The South Carolina judge who found himself in the headlines during the high-profile murder trial of Alex Murdaugh said he didn’t anticipate the proceedings would be so captivating when he made the decision to make them available for everyone to view.
“It was an important case, all cases are, any case where you have a murder,” Judge Clifton Newman said during an event at Cleveland State University College of Law on Tuesday.
Newman presided over the weekslong trial, which saw Murdaugh convicted of murdering his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Developments in the case involving the scion of a South Carolina legal dynasty were closely tracked by many who followed the day-to-day coverage of the trial.
Prosecutors argued Murdaugh killed his wife and son on their property in Islandton, South Carolina, to distract and delay investigations into his alleged financial crimes. They said he stole millions of dollars from his former clients and law firm and repeatedly lied to cover his tracks.
Murdaugh admitted in court that he stole money and lied about it, and also that he lied to investigators about his whereabouts just prior to the killings due to paranoia from his drug addiction, but denied killing his wife and son.
“It had the added notoriety because it involved a lawyer who had been accused of stealing money from clients, over eight million dollars from any number of clients, a lawyer who admittedly was strung out on drugs and more than anything else, a man who’s accused of killing his wife and his son,” Newman said in a video posted by his alma mater CSU’s law school.
“And despite those types of facts that would certainly make folks interested, I believe when I decided to make the entire process open to the public and open to the media … I wasn’t experiencing any of that, I was simply a judge in a trial doing my job as I’ve done repeatedly over the years,” Newman added. “The interest and notoriety that was taking place all around had no effect on me, because I was engaged in the process of what I had to do.”
Murdaugh maintains his innocence will appeal his conviction, court filings show.
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CNN’s Dianne Gallagher and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.