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Disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh pleads not guilty to murders of wife and son

The state took over a year to indict the once-prominent attorney on murder charges.
/ Source: TODAY

Disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the murders of his wife and son.

His wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, 52, and their younger son, Paul, 22, were found shot to death June 7, 2021, on their South Carolina estate in Colleton County.

Murdaugh, who was indicted on two counts of murder last week, remains behind bars while he waits to stand trial and the judge contemplates a gag order.

Attorney Joe McCullough is working on another case involving Murdaugh and son Paul. He explained based on his expertise with criminal law why the state may have taken more than a year to bring murder charges against Murdaugh.

“Circumstantial evidence cases are hard and when you have to rely on that evidence you want to take your time and be methodical,” he told TODAY’s Craig Melvin on Wednesday.

Murdaugh, 54, continues to maintain his innocence. His lawyers did not respond to NBC News' request for comment about Wednesday’s hearing but previously released a statement saying their client “did not have anything to do with the murders of Maggie and Paul. He loved them more than anything in the world.”

Alex Murdaugh
Alex Murdaugh appears for a hearing at the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, South Carolina, on Wednesday, July 20, 2022.Gavin McIntyre / The Post And Courier via AP

Sources close to the investigation told NBC News that authorities spent more than a year on the case before charging Murdaugh in order to thoroughly investigate it. Those sources said authorities have uncovered evidence that is not yet public, including cell phone video that puts Murdaugh at the scene of the crime before the murders took place and contradicts his timeline of events on the day his wife and son were killed.

Law enforcement also discovered a series of events that they say were part of a financial scheme involving Murdaugh. He faces more than 80 other charges, including stealing money from clients, and trying to arrange his own death so that his other son could collect a $10 million life insurance payout. He pleaded not guilty to many of those charges.

In a joint motion, the prosecution and defense asked for a speedy trial, with Murdaugh’s team hoping it gets underway in October or November.