Alex Murdaugh sentencing: Disgraced SC attorney gets life in prison

Murdaugh was found guilty in the 2021 murders of his wife and youngest son.

Disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was sentenced Friday to life in prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and their youngest son.

Margaret "Maggie" Murdaugh, 52, and Paul Murdaugh, 22, were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds near the dog kennels at the family's estate in June 2021, authorities said.

Alex Murdaugh, 54, was found guilty Thursday on all charges -- two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon in the commitment of a violent crime.

"Murdaugh Family Murders," a deep dive into the trial, featuring new interviews, airs Friday at 9 ET/8 CT on ABC's "20/20."

Murdaugh to begin inmate intake process

Alex Murdaugh has arrived at the Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center in Columbia, South Carolina, where he will be assessed before being assigned to a maximum-security prison, the South Carolina Department of Corrections said Friday evening.

The agency shared a new mug shot that showed Murdaugh with a bald head.

The intake process will include "medical tests, mental health and education assessments," the agency said in a statement.

"Next, the SCDC inmate classification system will follow the same process it follows for all inmates: evaluate the results of tests, assessments and screenings administered to him, taking into account his crime and sentence, and use all of this information to assign the inmate a specific custody level and prison," the statement continued.

The process takes about 45 days.

How Alex Murdaugh's web of scandal came crashing down

A new "20/20" airing at 9 p.m. ET Friday delves into the high-profile case, covering Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes, an alleged assisted suicide attempt, opioid addiction and a deadly boating accident involving his son Paul in 2019.

A prominent legal family with deep roots in South Carolina's Lowcountry, the Murdaughs helped found a Hampton County law firm that's more than a century old. Several generations have worked as top prosecutors in the area.

"In the area, the Murdaughs weren't above the law, they were the law," Pilar Melendez, a Daily Beast reporter who covered the case, told ABC News.

On June 7, 2021, Alex Murdaugh's wife Maggie and son Paul were found shot dead near the dog kennels at the family's estate.

In the following months, Alex Murdaugh left his law firm, which sued him for allegedly embezzling money from clients and the law firm for years. He also said he entered a rehab facility.

A major twist came when Alex Murdaugh said he was shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of the road on Sept 4, 2021. He was transported to a hospital for treatment of a superficial wound to the head, investigators said. Murdaugh later claimed in an affidavit that he had asked the alleged gunman to assist him in dying by suicide, so his remaining son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. The alleged gunman denied shooting Murdaugh and claimed he wasn't aware of any alleged insurance fraud scheme.

Less than two weeks after the shooting, Alex Murdaugh surrendered to police on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report.

Alex Murdaugh was also charged with misappropriating settlement funds in the death of his former housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died in the Murdaugh family home after a falling accident in 2018.

At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial in connection with a deadly 2019 boating accident. Paul Murdaugh was accused of crashing the boat while under the influence, resulting in the death of his friend Mallory Beach.

The resulting wrongful death lawsuit filed against Alex Murdaugh by Beach's family, who alleged he allowed his underage son to drive under the influence, was one factor in bringing years of alleged theft from his law firm and clients to light.

‘Paul was a little detective’

Mark Keel, chief of South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Division, said that “in the end Paul was a little detective,” likely alluding to Paul Murdaugh’s cellphone video that placed his dad, Alex Murdaugh, at the crime scene minutes before Paul and his mother were murdered.

“SLED agents have worked tirelessly for the past nearly 21 months to ensure justice was served for Maggie and Paul,” Kent said in a statement Friday. “It was all done under constant pressure and scrutiny. I want my folks to know how incredibly proud I am to be their Chief.”

He added, “Today is not the end, it’s the next step in the long road to justice for every person who has been victimized by Alex Murdaugh.”

“This case serves as notice to anyone who aided or assisted Alex Murdaugh in committing any crime that justice will be sought,” Kent said.

Alex Murdaugh faces about 100 other charges for allegations ranging from money laundering to staging his own death so his surviving son could cash in on his $10 million life insurance policy. Alex Murdaugh has admitted to stealing money from clients.

Defense stands by putting Murdaugh on stand

Defense attorney Jim Griffin said Alex Murdaugh's surviving son, Buster, speaking on his father’s behalf at Friday's sentencing hearing would not have made a difference in the sentence, and only would have put Buster through more trauma.

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian stood by putting Alex Murdaugh on the stand during the trial.

"There was no choice, because he had been made out to be a monster ... he had to try to push back on that," Harpootlian said. "Without taking the stand, he was toast."

"He had to take the stand to explain the video," he said, referring to the cellphone video placing Alex Murdaugh at the scene minutes before the murders.

Harpootlian said he wouldn't change anything about how the defense presented its case.

Harpootlian said the prosecution focused on Alex Murdaugh's character, casting him as a thief and a liar.

"This jury had to think he was a despicable human being and not to be believed. So it was about character, wasn't about motive," he said.

Harpootlian said the defense will file an appeal in 10 days.