Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman has granted the state's request to allow evidence about Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial schemes, including hiding debts that totaled well over $1 million, according to The Daily Beast.
Murdaugh is charged with shooting both his wife his son at their hunting estate in June 2021, and prosecutors are hoping to provide convincing evidence that the motivation for his crimes may be explained by a complicated scheme to steal over $8 million from his clients and former law firm to keep up the social standing and prestige of his family in South Carolina.
Murdaugh is formally charged with two counts of murder and an additional two counts of weapon possession used in a violent crime. He has plead not guilty to all four counts. Newman made his ruling after a special hearing that lasted two days with no jury in attendance.
According to the hearing, the origination of the forced financial transparency may be a 2019 boating accident Murdaugh was involved in that requested specific financial details. The hearing also detailed Murdaugh being confronted about $800,000 missing from legal funds by a colleague the same day the murders occurred.
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In his ruling Newman said, "the jury is entitled to consider whether the apparent desperation of Mr. Murdaugh because of his dire financial situation, the threat of being exposed for committing the crimes for which he was later charged, resulted in the commission of the alleged crimes."
Murdaugh's trial has captured national attention and been broadcast live across several television stations. His defense is a lack of evidence that tie him to the murders. The prosecution has produced evidence that allegedly ties Murdaugh alone to the murders.