Buster Murdaugh broke down crying uncontrollably outside a South Carolina courthouse after his father Alex Murdaugh was convicted of brutally murdering his mother and brother.
The 26-year-old, who is the surviving son after the Murdaugh patriarch gunned down his wife Maggie and youngest child Paul Murdaugh in June 2021, had mostly remained expressionless throughout the grueling six-week trial.
‘Buster held up pretty well until the cameras were off him — but then he collapsed,’ a source who was at the Colleton County Courthouse this week told the New York Post.
‘He was crying uncontrollably,’ the source added. ‘The uncles [Alex’s brothers, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randy Murdaugh] finally got him into a car.’
Buster’s father Murdaugh, 54, was found guilty Thursday of the double murder of his Maggie and Paul. On Friday, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Buster, who once aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps of being a lawyer until he was kicked out of law school for an alleged plagiarizing incident, had sat diligently behind him every day of the dramatic trial, often expressing little emotion as the court discussed how his mother and brother were brutally executed.
But on Thursday night he finally appeared to break, placing his hands over his eyes – a contrast to his father and aunt’s more stoic reaction.
Murdaugh turned to face them both as he was cuffed and taken away by officers.
The convicted killer, who wept throughout the trial as the jury were told in gruesome detail how his wife and son were gunned down and shown harrowing images of the crime scene, gave a blank expression as the judge spoke to the court.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours Thursday before finding Murdaugh guilty of killing his 22-year-old son with two shotgun blasts and his 52-year-old wife with five rifle bullets.
Neither the disgraced attorney’s younger brother John Marvin, who testified earlier in the week, or his elder sibling Randy were in court to witness the verdict.
It left his sister Lynn and son Buster as the sole members of the family to watch on as jurors unanimously found the patriarch guilty.
A source told The Post that after leaving the courthouse, Buster collapsed in tears.
When court resumed on Friday for the sentencing, Buster appeared to have regained his composure and kept a straight face in court as his father learned his fate – that he would serve two consecutive life terms in prison.
Murdaugh will spend the next few weeks at the R&E facility where he faces rigorous testing before he will be assigned to a permanent state prison.
As he is a double murderer, he will be housed with the state’s most brutal and violent inmates.
The life he faces is a far cry from the privileged world of multi-million dollar homes from the coast to the hunting lands of the Lowcountry to which he has grown accustomed in his 54 years.
Judge Clifton Newman issued a searing sentencing on Friday, describing Murdaugh as a ‘monster’ who continued to lie even when the evidence was damning.
‘This case qualifies under our death penalty statue based on the statutory aggravating circumstances of two or more people being murdered by the defendant by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct. I don’t question at all the decision of the state not to pursue the death penalty.
‘But as I sit here in this courtroom and look around at the many portraits of judges and other court officials and reflect on the fact that over the past century, your family, including you, have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom and many have received the death penalty, probably for lesser conduct.
‘Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand. Oh, what tangled web we weave. What did you mean by that?’
‘I meant when I lied, I continued to lie,’ Murdaugh replied.
‘And the question is when will it end? When will it end? And it has ended already for the jury, because they’ve concluded that you continue to lie and lied throughout your testimony. And perhaps with all the throng of people here, they for the most part all believe or 80, 90 or 99 percent believe that you continue to lie now when your statement of denial to the court.’
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said none of the victims of the crime – members of Murdaugh’s family and the parents and relatives of his wife – wished to speak on behalf of the prosecution before sentencing.
‘The depravity, the callousness, the selfishness of these crimes are stunning. The lack of remorse and the effortless way in which he is, including here, sitting right over there in this witness stand – your honor, a man like that, a man like this man, should never be allowed to be among free, law-abiding citizens,’ Waters said.
He learned his fate in the same courtroom on the circuit that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years.
Through more than 75 witnesses and nearly 800 pieces of evidence, jurors heard about betrayed friends and clients, Murdaugh’s failed attempt to stage his own death in an insurance fraud scheme, a fatal boat crash in which his son was implicated, the housekeeper who died in a fall in the Murdaugh home and the grisly scene of the killings.
The lawyer admitted stealing millions of dollars from the family firm and clients, saying he needed the money to fund his drug habit.
Before he was charged with murder, Murdaugh was in jail awaiting trial on about 100 other charges ranging from insurance fraud to tax evasion.
The Murdaughs dominated the legal scene in neighboring Hampton County for a century. Another brother remains in the law firm the family founded a century ago.
The juror agreed with prosecutors that the key piece of evidence was a video locked on his son’s mobile phone for a year — video shot minutes before the killings at the same kennels near where the bodies would be found.
The voices of all three Murdaughs can be heard on the video, though Alex Murdaugh had insisted for 20 months that he had not been at the kennels that night.
When he gave evidence in his own defense, the first thing he did was admit he had lied to investigators about being at the kennels, saying he was paranoid of law enforcement because he was addicted to opioids and had pills in his pocket the night of the killings.
‘A good liar. But not good enough,’ Moyer said.
Prosecutors did not have the weapons used to kill the Murdaughs or other direct evidence like confessions or blood spatter.
But they had a mountain of circumstantial evidence, including the video putting Murdaugh at the scene of the killings five minutes before his wife and son stopped using their mobile phones forever.
Defense attorneys said they will appeal, based largely on the judge allowing the evidence of crimes that Murdaugh has not been convicted of, which they say smeared his reputation.