The decide who oversaw the Alex Murdaugh homicide trial and sentenced the disgraced lawyer to 2 consecutive life jail sentences spoke publicly concerning the case earlier than the cameras for the primary time in a question-and-answer session throughout a panel at Cleveland State College, his alma mater, on Tuesday.
Choose Clifton Newman, who’s a number of months away from pressured retirement underneath Palmetto State legislation, was interviewed by Cuyahoga County Frequent Pleas Court docket Choose Brendan J. Sheehan and requested to opine on varied points of the trial together with the terse deliberations.
“Nothing surprises me in terms of court docket and circumstances, actually,” Newman mentioned. “You simply by no means know. These are folks. They’re strangers to me. Strangers to one another. You could possibly be sitting – it could possibly be 12 of you on that jury. You’re simply listening and digesting all of it.”
On March 2, 2023, after a trial taking on the higher a part of six weeks, Murdaugh’s friends discovered him responsible on all counts within the Colleton County Courthouse. The timestamp on that call was 6:41 p.m. EST. In the end, jurors spent simply shy of three hours deciding his destiny.
“My expertise is that when jurors have sat and listened to one thing for six weeks, over 800 reveals offered, after they return to deliberate, they don’t wish to have a look at these 800 reveals, they don’t wish to spend their time combing by means of every part they’ve laboriously sat there and listened to for that size of time,” Newman defined to the decide asking the questions.
He mused that the three hours spent deliberating on the defendant’s guilt or innocence “was about regular” underneath the circumstances.
A lighter second got here when the questioner requested who would play the decide in a film or miniseries concerning the nationally well-known trial. Newman mentioned Morgan Freeman was too outdated. The decide’s spouse steered Denzel Washington could be as much as the duty.
Sheehan additionally requested whether or not it was tough to condemn a person who had beforehand practiced the legislation in entrance of him.
“Nicely, being from a small, rural group, and being from a comparatively small state, I’ve needed to deal with circumstances the place I knew the one that was accused, or knew the victims,” Newman mentioned. “Judges should make a person dedication as as to if they are often truthful and neutral. However my check will not be whether or not I do know the particular person or knew of the particular person, it must be whether or not my information of them would have an effect on my capacity to be truthful or neutral. We weren’t private buddies, however since he was from a well-liked agency and a well-liked lawyer, all judges, each decide within the state both knew him or knew of him.”
Newman went on so as to add that you simply all the time know the defendant by the top of a homicide trial.
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Then there was the markedly fast turnaround for sentencing – a listening to which got here the subsequent morning in South Carolina; sped up even additional by the prosecution declining to supply extra argument or sufferer impression statements for a harsher sentence; and the protection, equally, opting out of providing any mitigation proof.
“So, right here we’re, and he’s standing earlier than me to be sentenced for having been convicted of a double homicide, and mainly he informed me he had nothing to say, both, aside from ‘It wasn’t me.””
Sheehan then introduced up the prolonged speech that Newman gave to the defendant earlier than sending him off to jail for the remainder of his life, castigating him for the vicious crime, and suggesting that the convicted assassin would stay haunted by the slayings.
“Inside your individual soul you need to take care of that,” the decide mentioned on the time. “I do know you need to see Paul and Maggie through the nighttime if you’re making an attempt to fall asleep. I’m positive they arrive and go to you. I’m positive.”
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That speech, Newman mentioned, was not deliberate or pre-scripted. It got here from his preparation all through the case.
“The one who kills one other particular person, I’m informed the one that is killed will hang-out, will come again, and so they’ll by no means be capable to recover from the second in time they took that particular person’s life,” the Lowcountry decide mentioned. “Whether or not that’s a non secular perception or simply my view of the phrase. Additionally it is the topic of a barbershop dialog at some point: when a buyer was arguing to the barber, saying that for those who kill a person, he’ll hang-out you, he’ll come again, and you’ll by no means be capable to get that particular person out of your thoughts.”
He then supplied a tragic tackle the killer’s private expertise with, and relationship to, his familial victims.
“In my thoughts, little question, he cherished his household,” Newman mentioned. “I don’t consider that he hated his spouse. And, definitely I didn’t consider that he didn’t love his son. However he dedicated an unforgivable, unimaginable crime. And there’s no means that he’ll be capable to sleep peacefully given these info.”
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