Alex Murdaugh sentencing: Judge sentences disgraced SC lawyer to life in prison in murders of wife, son; defense to appeal

WALTERBORO, S.C. — Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Friday for the murders of his wife and grown son — another chapter in the downfall of the disgraced attorney whose dynastic family had significant legal reach for decades in parts of South Carolina’s Lowcountry.

“Amazingly to have you come and testify that it was just another ordinary day. ‘My wife and son and I were out just enjoying life.’ Not credible. Not believable. You can convince yourself about it but obviously you have the inability to convince anyone else about that,” Judge Clifton Newman said moments before handing down two consecutive life sentences.

WATCH: Murdaugh judge: Death penalty has been given for less than his crimes

Like he did on the witness stand at trial, Murdaugh maintained his innocence on Friday but Newman pointedly asked when will his web of deceit end.

“I know you have to see Paul and Maggie during the night times when you’re attempting to go to sleep. I’m sure they come and visit you. I’m sure,” the judge told Murdaugh at one point in the Colleton County courtroom.

“Every night,” said Murdaugh, whose storied family name was once synonymous with the law in parts of South Carolina.

Murdaugh’s defense attorneys said they plan to file a notice of intention to appeal the decision within 10 days.

SEE ALSO: Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son testifies he was ‘destroyed’ by fatal shootings of wife, son

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian defended the decision to let Murdaugh testify, saying his credibility was under question because of his alleged financial wrongdoings.

“Once they got that character information – ‘he’s a thief, he’s a liar’ – then this jury had to think that he’s a despicable human being, and not to be believed,” Harpootlian told

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Parkland shooter’s life sentence could bring changes to law

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is escorted into the courtroom for a hearing regarding possible jury misconduct during deliberations in the penalty phase of his trial, Friday, Oct.  14, 2022, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.  (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is escorted into the courtroom for a hearing regarding possible jury misconduct during deliberations in the penalty phase of his trial, Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

AP

It wasn’t long ago that Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz would have been looking at a near-certain death sentence for murdering 17 people in Parkland, even if his jury could not unanimously agree on his fate.

Until 2016, Florida law allowed trial judges to impose a death sentence if a majority of the jurors agreed. With a 9-3 vote Thursday supporting Cruz’s execution, Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer would have likely sent him to Death Row for the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

Now, however, a vote of anything less than 12-0 means an automatic sentence of life without parole — a standard the Stoneman Douglas families and the head of the state’s prosecutors association want changed. That would again put Florida in a distinct minority among the 27 states that still have the death penalty where almost all require juror unanimity.

Ed Brodsky, president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association, believes the Legislature will next year consider changing the law it passed after a pair of court decisions rejected the old law.

“When there is an overwhelmingly majority and sentiment about what the ultimate penalty should be, should one minority voice be able to dominate and hijack justice?” said Brodsky, the elected state attorney for Sarasota County and its neighbors.

Gov. Ron DeSantis at a Friday press conference criticized the sentence, but wouldn’t specify what changes he would support.

“We need to do some reforms to be better serving victims

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Judge denies district attorney’s request to withdraw John Henry Ramirez’s execution date

A Texas district judge on Tuesday denied Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez’s motion to recall Corpus Christi death row inmate John Henry Ramirez’s October execution date and death warrant.

Gonzalez and Seth Kretzer, Ramirez’s attorney, told the Caller-Times they plan to challenge 94th District Judge Bobby Galvan’s ruling by filing a joint appeal with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

“I have always and will continue to hold Judge Galvan in the highest regard and we will take his advice as he welcomed us to appeal his decision,” Gonzalez said in a text message to the Caller-Times. “We are in (uncharted) waters and even judges sometimes welcome guidance or answers from higher courts.”

Kretzer called Galvan’s ruling “unprecedented.”

“It is unprecedented for an unopposed/joint motion to withdraw a death warrant to be denied,” he said in an email.

John Henry Ramirez, 37

John Henry Ramirez, 37

“The Texas Constitution is clear that an elected district attorney is the exclusive legitimate voice for the state of Texas in criminal prosecutions.”

Gonzalez, in his April 14 motion, stated that he believes the death penalty should not be “imposed on Mr. Ramirez or any other person” while he remains in office.

“I’ve been open about not wanting to seek the death penalty, and I think it’d be hypocritical of me as a person not wanting to seek the death penalty and then setting a date of execution for someone, for it to be carried out,” Gonzalez told the Caller-Times after filing the motion.

The motion, however, came just days after one of Gonzalez’s assistant district attorneys requested an execution date for Ramirez be set. Gonzalez said the request was filed without his knowledge.

Galvan then ordered Ramirez’s execution date be set for Oct. 5 — marking the fourth time an execution date has been set.

Ramirez,

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