Judge in Alex Murdaugh trial recuses himself from appeal proceedings

 November 20, 2023

The judge who oversaw the Alex Murdaugh case has recused himself from any involvement in future proceedings as Murdaugh seeks a re-do of his sensational murder trial. 

55-year-old Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison after a six-week trial in which he was found guilty of murdering his wife and son.

Murdaugh judge steps aside

Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman shared his views on Murdaugh's guilt in media interviews following the trial, saying of Murdaugh, “I cannot imagine him having a peaceful night."

Newman also took the unusual step of talking about Murdaugh's defense strategy.

Murdaugh's lawyers said the judge could not be trusted to be impartial as Murdaugh fights his guilty conviction.

South Carolina's Supreme Court shot down Murdaugh's request to have Newman removed from a separate, upcoming trial for financial crimes. The court also rejected a request to delay the trial, which begins November 27.

On the other hand, Newman agreed to step down from the murder case.

The Supreme Court said that Newman "has requested that a new judge be assigned to handle the post-trial motions involving the murder charges."

Murdaugh mistrial?

Murdaugh's lawyers are asking for a new murder trial, claiming Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill pushed the jury to find Murdaugh guilty.

They say she urged jurors not to be "fooled" by Murdaugh's testimony denying culpability for the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul, whose bodies were found nearby the dog kennels at the family's hunting lodge.

On the witness stand, Murdaugh admitted his alibi was false, and video evidence showed him near the scene of the crime shortly before the killings.

Murdaugh had no blood on his clothing and investigators never found a murder weapon, with Murdaugh's defense calling the prosecution's case nothing more than a "theory."

When Murdaugh doubled down on his innocence at the sentencing, Newman suggested the "monster" he had "become" through drug addiction was responsible for the killings.

"It might not have been you. It might have been the monster you've become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills," Newman said.

“Maybe you become another person. I've seen that before," Newman continued. "The person standing before me was not the person who committed the crime, though is the same individual."

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