Murdaugh judge says killer Alex ‘loved’ family he murdered

Murdaugh judge says killer Alex 'loved' family he murdered

The South Carolina judge who sentenced Alex Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences opened up about the proceedings for the first time this week, noting that he believes the disgraced legal scion “loved” the wife and son he slaughtered.

Circuit Court Judge Clifton B. Newman made the remarks on Tuesday during an event at his alma mater, Cleveland State University, TODAY reported.

“I don’t believe that he hated his wife, and certainly I did not believe that he did not love his son,” Newman, 71, said of Murdaugh, who was convicted earlier this month of killing his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, in order to cover up his financial crimes.

“But he committed the unforgivable, unimaginable crime, and there’s no way that he’ll be able to sleep peacefully.”

The comments are Newman’s first public statement on the trial since his dramatic, personal 15-minute speech during Murdaugh’s sentencing.

Judge Clifton B. Newman on the bench.
Judge Clifton B. Newman presided over the bombshell Murdaugh trial earlier this year.

“You have to see Paul and Maggie during the nighttime when you’re attempting to go to sleep. I’m sure they come and visit you,” Newman told Murdaugh, 54, during the showdown at the Colleton County Courthouse.

Murdaugh, who was already dressed in a prison uniform just hours after his conviction, replied that he saw his dead loved ones “all day and every night.”

On Tuesday, Newman admitted that he was taken aback by the spectacle surrounding the six-week trial, which started in early January – but he refused to let it impact how he did his job.

Alex Murdaugh with his wife and two sons.
Alex Murdaugh was convicted of killing his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, earlier this month.

“It had the added notoriety because it involved a lawyer who had been accused of stealing over $8 million from a number of clients,” he said of the case.

“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.

“And despite those type 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 and broadcast wherever it needed to be … nationwide and worldwide, 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.”

Judge Clifton Newman bangs his gavel.
Judge Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life terms.

Newman also stood by his decision to admit Murdaugh’s extensive financial misdeeds into evidence, despite the defense’s objections.

“Once a defendant takes the stand and testifies, almost everything is fair game at that point,” he explained, referring to Murdaugh’s controversial appearance on the stand.

The jury’s visit to the 1,700-acre Moselle estate where Maggie, 52, and Paul, 21, were gunned down in June 2021 was also most “helpful” to the prosecution, even though it was requested by the defense, he continued.

Alex Murdaugh wipes tears while in court.
Murdaugh was frequently emotional in the courtroom.

Newman – who lost his own son, Brian, to a cardiac issue in January – is required to retire this year when he turns 72, TODAY said.

He is, however, still expected to oversee the proceedings for Murdaugh’s financial crimes, and could remain on the bench for those trials into next year.

A South Carolina native, Newman, who is black, attended segregated schools through 1969, when he started at Cleveland State in Ohio.

Judge Newman on the stand.
Judge Newman is required to retire when he turns 72 this year.

He subsequently ascended through the legal ranks in his home state, and now presides over the Colleton County Courthouse, where a Confederate memorial casts a shadow of the not-so-distant past.

Alex Murdaugh, meanwhile, has traded his comfortable position as the son of the Low Country’s most prominent family for maximum security lock-up at Kirkland Correctional Facility. He is in the process of appealing both murder convictions.

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