BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty to myriad state financial crimes charges during a hearing held Friday afternoon.
Alex Murdaugh, wearing his orange South Carolina Department of Corrections jumpsuit, appeared in a Beaufort County courtroom on Friday morning for a hearing to address juror issues in the upcoming financial crimes trial.
But the hearing never truly got underway as defense attorneys and state prosecutors gathered together for discussions both inside the courtroom and in chambers, and appeared to sign multiple documents throughout the morning and afternoon.
After hours of discussion, Murdaugh, defense attorneys and state prosecutors returned to the courtroom just after 1:30 p.m. where they presented to Judge Clifton Newman a plan for Murdaugh, a once prominent South Carolina attorney, to plead guilty to the slew of financial crimes charges as part of an agreement.
“We are here today to resolve indictments that span the region and that span a number of counties. This, of course, has materialized here today as we showed up for pre-trial proceedings,” said State Prosecutor Creighton Waters. “The proposal we have is to take these pleas today with these negotiated sentences that result in a net sentence of 27 years at 85% time.”
Murdaugh agreed to the circumstances in the plea agreement, and the defense team withdrew their motion for recusal so that Judge Newman could oversee the financial crimes charges.
“Mr. Murdaugh agrees with the state’s rendition concerning the plea agreement. He has executed that plea agreement. We would also withdraw our motion for recusal so we could proceed with you being the judge on this matter,” said Attorney Dick Harpootlian.
Case, by case, Waters went through all of the state financial crime charges against Murdaugh.
“I agree that I wrongly took all of that money, your honor, and did all of those crimes. I disagree with some of the narrative, but not the essential elements of the facts of the crimes,” said Murdaugh immediately following.
Murdaugh said he is guilty, and believes that he would be found guilty if the cases went to a jury trial.
“I’m glad to finally be given the opportunity to plead guilty. I am happy to be pleading guilty to these charges,” he added.
Judge Newman deferred the full acceptance until Nov. 28 where he will decide whether he will accept the guilty plea and impose a sentence. He wants to allow victims an opportunity to speak.
Murdaugh could face 27 years in state prison for financial crimes.
“Today Alex Murdaugh pleaded guilty to his financial crimes. This is a win for the victims and for justice in South Carolina. We hope the families he betrayed and stole from feel a little peace that he is going to serve time for those crimes. It doesn’t matter your last name, your position, or your connections–no one is above the law in South Carolina,” said South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson in a statement Friday afternoon.