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Alex Murdaugh was convicted of murder on Thursday for the shooting of his wife and son. He was found guilty on two counts of murder by the end of the six-week trial. The inclusion of evidence related to Murdaugh’s financial crimes that was pushed for by the prosecution has led to many people questioning the validity of the verdict. Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for both murders on March 3. This trial perfectly shows how flawed our judicial system is and the power the courtroom can hold over the public.

The verdict under fire was that of Murdaugh’s recent trial for the murder of Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh. A major piece of evidence in favor of his guilt is an audio clip that captured Murdaugh shortly before the murder of these two individuals at the location of the murder with the victims. This piece of evidence was proof that the defendant lied about his initial alibi for the time of the murder. However, it was the inclusion of evidence of Murdaugh’s financial crimes that will provide the grounds for the defense’s appeal.

Murdaugh has a documented history of financial crimes that were discovered around the time of the murder charges. This includes 100 other charges for insurance fraud and tax evasion. While the trial for his financial crimes has not yet convened, it is likely that the events of this murder trial will impact those proceedings and there has been criticism of their use during Murdaugh’s murder trial. The defense has filed their appeal, claiming the presentation of financial crimes prejudiced the jury against the defendant and that investigation authorities hid forensic evidence.

The financial charges Murdaugh faces showcase a questionable character, dishonesty and a willingness to commit crimes of moral turpitude. The prosecution also wove the defendant’s financial crimes into their proposed motive for the crime, that Murdaugh killed his wife and son to create a distraction from the financial crimes he was trying to keep hidden. However believable that motive is, it does demand the inclusion of any evidence of financial crimes. They absolutely should have been included in the trial and it is not unprecedented that they were.

Murdaugh received two life sentences versus the death penalty, which the prosecutors chose not to seek prior to the trial, and members of the public have debated whether the death penalty should still be used. Some feel that it is necessary for cases of extreme evil, but others feel like the guilty party should be punished with life imprisonment. The death penalty is an inhumane thing to do to anyone, regardless of their crimes and especially when the justice system cannot guarantee the accuracy of any verdict. The people’s control over this system should end with ensuring a fair and just trial, not deciding who lives and who dies. 

The publicization of this trial is also a cause for concern as the tragic deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh have been turned into a spectacle for the public’s entertainment. While light does need to be shed on the inner workings of the justice system, greater transparency and criminal justice reform should not come at the cost of turning a murderer into a celebrity. It’s disrespectful to the families of the victims and TV trials easily exacerbate the already painful situation.

The trial itself has been marked by controversy and near constant public attention. These events have been rife with questions, but a verdict has been made. The defense will do their job by making their appeals, but now is the time for the public to show respect for the victims and their loved ones. Although the public may not know the true story or reason behind this crime, there is sufficient evidence to declare Murdaugh as guilty, sentence him with imprisonment, and give the family room to heal.