By Chelsea Bailey
BBC News, Washington
Alex Murdaugh has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of his wife and son, but his legal troubles look far from over.
The high-profile trial of the disgraced former lawyer from South Carolina has also brought renewed attention to Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes, as well as a series of deaths that are said to be connected to the family.
1. Murdaugh likely to appeal conviction
Immediately after the sentencing, his defence team told reporters they planned to file an appeal against the jury’s guilty verdict, arguing there was not enough evidence to convict.
His lawyers said they planned to appeal because there was not significant evidence linking his financial crimes to the motive for murder. The majority of the evidence presented in the trial was circumstantial, but jurors still found Murdaugh guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Murdaugh maintained his innocence during sentencing, telling the court: “I would never hurt my wife, Maggie, and I would never hurt my son.”
His lawyers said they would file an appeal within 10 days.
2. He faces 99 financial crimes charges
Murdaugh has 99 state charges pending against him for allegedly stealing at least $8m (£6.6m) in settlement money from clients at his family law firm, laundering money and evading taxes.
Throughout the trial, state prosecutors argued that Murdaugh murdered his wife, Maggie, and his son, Paul, to distract attention from the fact that “his financial house of cards” was starting to crumble. When he took the stand in his own defence, Murdaugh made the radical decision to repeatedly confess to those financial crimes.
“I stole money that was not my money, I mislead people that I shouldn’t have mislead and I did wrong,” Murdaugh said during the trial.
His admissions during the murder trial could complicate his defence in future financial crimes court cases.
3. Murder-for-hire leads to insurance fraud claims
Murdaugh also faces separate insurance fraud charges stemming from a bizarre failed hitjob he tried to arrange – the target was himself.
The day after Murdaugh was forced to resign from his law firm, he called police to say that he had been shot in the head on a rural road in South Carolina. But that story quickly unravelled.
He later admitted to hiring someone to shoot him so that his son, Buster, could collect on his life insurance policy. He was charged with insurance fraud and filing a false police report.
4. The Stephen Smith investigation
Shortly after the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, South Carolina state investigators reopened a 2015 investigation into death of Stephen Smith.
Smith was 19 years old when he was found dead in the middle of a rural country road.
Police later ruled Smith, who was Buster Murdaugh’s high school classmate, had died from blunt-force trauma and surmised he had been struck and killed in a hit-and-run.
But in 2021, officials announced they would reopen their investigation into Smith’s murder “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh”. Although the case is not seemingly directly connected to Alex, it could bring his family’s name into the spotlight once again.
5. Gloria Satterfield investigation
Gloria Satterfield was the Murdaugh family housekeeper who died in February 2018. Her death was the “result of injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident”, according to a wrongful death settlement filed after her death.
But in 2021, after Murdaugh was accused of trying to arrange his own death, the county coroner asked police to investigate Satterfield’s death.
Her death had not been reported to the coroner, and no post-mortem examination was performed, the coroner said.
“On the death certificate the manner of death was ruled ‘Natural’, which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident,” Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper wrote.
“In light of the inconsistencies noted above, I feel that it is prudent to pursue an investigation into Gloria Satterfield’s death.”
In June 2022, state investigators announced that they had received permission from the family to exhume Satterfield’s body and planned to continue the investigation into her death.
There have been few updates since the announcement, but attorneys representing Satterfield’s family celebrated Murdaugh’s conviction on Friday, saying that the ruling ensures he will “drink from the same cup of justice” as everyone else. No charges have been laid in her death.
6. Future settlements
In addition to the ongoing investigation into Satterfield’s death, there is also the matter of her sons’ wrongful death lawsuit against Murdaugh.
In 2018, Murdaugh helped orchestrate a lawsuit against himself, claiming he wanted to help her family get a settlement. Instead, he later confessed to pocketing millions from his homeowner’s insurance that was intended for her sons.
In December 2021, a lawyer representing the family said Murdaugh had apologised and agreed to pay the $4.3m settlement, according to local reports. It is unclear if the family was able to get the money.
In January, after years of legal wrangling, a judge also approved a settlement between the Murdaughs and the family of Mallory Beach, a 19-year-old woman who was killed in a 2019 boat accident involving Paul Murdaugh.
Prosecutors allege Alex killed his son Paul and wife Maggie after Beach’s family sued the Murdaughs over her death. The lawsuit would have exposed his financial wrongdoings, prosecutors argued.
Beach’s family is expected to be awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to local reports. It is unclear if they have yet received the settlement.