Former disgraced legal scion Alex Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of double murder – but what will become of his surviving son Buster now that the once prominent family dynasty seems to have crumbled?
Buster Murdaugh, 26, had planned to follow in his father’s footsteps as an attorney, the fifth generation in the family business. But instead, he watched as his last remaining immediate family member was hauled off in handcuffs.
For six weeks, Buster sat in the courtroom listening to harrowing testimony about how his brother Paul’s brains were blasted out of his head and how his mother Maggie was gunned down as she tried to flee the rampage that unfolded at the family’s Moselle estate in June 2021.
Buster, who has refused to return to the hunting estate, now lives in a modest $180,000 one-bedroom condo in Hilton Head with his longtime girlfriend, Brooklynn White, and their golden retriever.
Last month, it was revealed that his mother’s estate was settled and with the sale of the Moselle property, Buster’s share will be $530,000. It is unknown if the college graduate is working at this time or receiving any kind of income.
Buster Murdaugh, 26, is the only surviving son of Alex and Maggie Murdaugh after his brother Paul and mom Maggie were brutally murdered in June 2021
Alex Murdaugh will spend the rest of his life in prison after being convicted of double murder
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 Murdaugh patriarch’s fall from grace ended with his sentencing on Friday.
Alex Murdaugh, husband to Maggie and father to sons Buster and Paul, maintained his innocence, just as he did when he testified in his own defense during the six-week trial.
But Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman wanted to know if he saw the mangled bodies of Maggie and Paul as he tried to sleep or thought about how he disgraced his family’s three-generation reputation for justice through lying, stealing and – eventually – murder.
‘As I tell you again, I respect this court. But I am innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul-Paul,’ Murdaugh responded.
‘And it might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become,’ Newman said.
Murdaugh faced the judge in the Colleton County courtroom on the circuit where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather tried cases as the elected prosecutor for more than 80 years.
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. Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin and surviving son Buster sat behind him in the courtroom every day.
As the convicted killer was ushered out of court and into a prison van on Friday, a heckler shouted: ‘Buster’s next!’ He added: ‘Justice for Stephen Smith!’, referring to the unsolved 2015 death of a 19-year-old friend of Buster.
The question remains, what is next for Buster Murdaugh, who has lost his mother and brother to murder and his father to life in prison.
Alex Murdaugh is led out of the courthouse to a waiting prison van to begin his life sentence
Buster Murdaugh had plans to follow in his father’s footsteps, but was kicked out of law school
Buster had plans to follow in father’s footsteps, but was kicked out of law school
Buster graduated from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and had been pursuing his law degree at the University of South Carolina, but was kicked out over an alleged plagiarism incident, according to the Wall Street Journal.
It was later reported by The Post and Courier, that ‘the family had paid a well-connected Columbia lawyer, Butch Bowers, some $60,000 to help secure Buster’s readmittance.’
However, he still hasn’t gone back to school.
‘He has put his desire to go to law school on hold for now,’ the Murdaugh’s lawyer told The Post and Courier. ‘There is no plan for him to start school in the fall or in the spring.’
Buster at one point worked for his father’s law firm, but it is unclear what he currently does for work.
Buster lives with his girlfriend in Hilton Head
Buster lives in a modest $180,000 one-bedroom condo in Hilton Head with his longtime girlfriend, Brooklynn White, and their golden retriever
The one-bedroom condo on Hilton Head Island is located in a complex with a communal pool, a tennis court and a gym in a ‘quiet’ neighborhood
Buster arrives at the Colleton County court in Walterboro with his girlfriend Brooklynn White who has supported him most days
Buster and White live at the Hilton Head condo, which is located in a complex with a communal pool, a tennis court and a gym.
White, who is originally from Rocky Hill, South Carolina, bought the condo in July 2021, records show, after landing her first job out of law school at Olivetti McCray and Withrow, where she specializes in probate and estate planning.
It is not clear how long the pair have been dating, but they both attended the University of South Carolina Law School.
White has been with Buster throughout his father’s six-week murder trial and was recently seen comforting him as he visit the gravesites of his mother and brother at the Hampton Cemetery in South Carolina.
Photos captured the moment Buster kneeled down and pay his respects to his loved ones before planting a kiss on the their graves.
Former classmate says Buster was withdrawn after murders of mom and brother
Photos captured the moment Buster kneeled down and pay his respects to his loved ones before planting a kiss on the their graves
Buster’s girlfriend Brooklynn has been seen supporting him at his dad’s trial proceedings
A former classmate of Buster’s from Wofford previously told PEOPLE that Buster was ‘not doing well at all,’ adding, ‘he really withdrew after everything happened.’
‘Before, he’d text immediately. His phone was surgically implanted in his hand or something, like you’d send a text 24/7 and he’d respond, and he loved to chat.
Now he doesn’t respond to most texts, or if he does, it’s one or two words. He has really closed off and built walls around himself,’ the friend added.
Buster will get $530,000 from slain mother’s estate
Alex Murdaugh with wife Maggie and their sons Buster (left) and Paul (right)
Murdaugh spoke briefly, telling the judge: ‘I am innocent. I would never hurt my wife Maggie and I would never hurt my son Paul Paul.’ He was sentenced to life in prison
Last month, it was revealed that after close to two years of legal wrangling, Maggie’s estate had finally been settled in a complex deal that will see Moselle sold and millions divided between those victims and creditors as well as surviving son, Buster.
A trove of documents held by Georgetown County Probate Court in South Carolina and reviewed by DailyMail.com show that Maggie’s estate was valued at $4,309,057.77.
In her will drafted in August 2005, a copy of which has been obtained by DailyMail.com, she left everything to her husband.
The vast majority of her estate, and the battle for a stake in it, is tied up in Moselle, the remote Islandton home with 1,772 acres of hunting grounds and swamp straddling Hampton and Colleton Counties.
At the time of Maggie’s death Moselle was no longer a home for her, it was an asset. And it was one that, records show, Murdaugh was at pains to shield from the creditors and victims we now know he defrauded over years of misappropriation of funds and embezzlement.
The probate records obtained by DailyMail.com show that in December 2016 Murdaugh ‘sold’ Moselle – an estate worth around $3million at the time – to Maggie, for ‘$5 and love and affection.’
Immediately after the property was put up for sale in February 2022, Murdaugh filed a Qualified Disclaimer with the probate court in which he renounced his inheritance.
This meant that if the property was sold any proceeds would flow not to him, nor to the pockets of all those with claims against him, but to surviving son Buster, 26.
As representative of Maggie’s estate, Murdaugh’s brother John Marvin, 41, put Moselle on the market in February 2022.
Buster will get $530,000, a sum augmented by his uncle John Marvin’s decision to waive the percentage he could have claimed as representative, while Marvin will be reimbursed $12,305.28 for personal funds advanced on behalf of the Estate.
Buster takes the stand in his father’s defense
Buster Murdaugh fought back tears as he recalled his father phoning him to tell him his mother and younger brother had been brutally murdered
Buster, 26, stated his full name, Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr., as father Alex, 54, looked on smiling. He was supported in court by his girlfriend Brooklynn White
Until last month, Buster had remained tight lipped as his once illustrious family’s fortunes have publicly spiraled since his mother and brother were gunned down at the family’s former hunting estate of Moselle, Islandton, on June 7, 2021.
On February 21, 2023, Buster took the stand as the defense’s first witness.
He answered questions in a matter-of-fact tone, ranging from how he found out about the killings to how his brother would steal his ID and use it to buy alcohol while underage to how his dad coached his baseball teams as a kid.
During his testimony, Buster explained points that prosecutors emphasized as potentially sinister during the trial’s first four weeks, like Alex Murdaugh parking behind his mother’s home or not using his cellphone for an hour the night of the killings.
Buster said he was around his father almost all the time in the 10 days after the killings, and described him as devastated and confused, living and sleeping anywhere other than where his wife and son were killed.
He testified that cell service at the family’s Colleton County home was spotty and that his father sometimes misplaced his phone. Prosecutors have suggested Alex Murdaugh left the device behind so it wouldn’t be where the killings took place.
Buster Murdaugh also said the family frequently parked near his grandparent’s back door in Hampton, which is where Alex Murdaugh parked when he visited his ailing mother the night his wife and son were killed. Investigators have suggested he parked behind the house to get rid of evidence that has never been found, like both guns or bloody clothing.
After visiting his mother the night of the murders, Alex Murdaugh returned home, called 911 and reported that he had found the bodies of his wife and son.
He talked about getting a phone call from his dad on June 7, 2021, who asked if he was sitting down and then told him his brother and mother had been shot.
‘He was destroyed. He was heartbroken. I walked through the door, I saw him and I gave him a hug,’ Buster Murdaugh said.
Buster and his father Alex exchange a look as he walks up to the witness stand at Colleton County courthouse in Walterboro last month
Alex wipes his eyes while listening to his son Buster describing the night his father informed him his mother and younger brother had been shot dead
Buster, Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh at the Moselle estate in a picture uploaded on Maggie’s Facebook to mark Father’s Day 2020
He also testified that his father took a lot of showers during the hot, steamy South Carolina summers, a point apparently meant to address testimony from a housekeeper who found a damp towel the morning after the killings.
Buster Murdaugh also testified that guns were left around the property ‘with the safety on’ and that he never loaded one shell of larger buckshot and a second shell of smaller birdshot in his shotguns. That combination killed Paul Murdaugh, investigators said.
Neither gun used in the killings has been found. A state agent testified last week he incorrectly told the grand jury which indicted Alex Murdaugh that several shotguns were found on the property loaded the way the weapon was that killed Paul Murdaugh.
Prosecutor John Meadors asked gentle questions of Buster Murdaugh in his cross examination, clarifying and emphasizing a few discrepancies in the testimony. He didn’t ask him if he thought his father was the killer.
Buster’s involvement in the Mallory Beach boat crash
Beach, 19, was thrown from the boat when it crashed into Archers Creek Bridge, in Beaufort South Carolina, in 2019. Her body was found five days later.
The Beach family reached a tentative settlement with Buster Murdaugh in a $50million lawsuit
Paul was indicted on three counts of boating under the influence in April 2019. But while awaiting trial, the 22-year-old was gunned down in 2021
Earlier this year, the family of Mallory Beach reached a settlement for a ‘significant amount’ of money, which removed Buster and Maggie’s names from the case.
Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens – all underage, all drinking heavily – aboard.
Mallory Beach, 19, was thrown from the vessel and her body found by two fishermen one week later, five miles from the site. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma and drowning.
Buster was accused of lending his younger brother his ID in order for him to buy the alcohol.
Paul was indicted on three counts of boating under the influence in April 2019.
But while awaiting trial, the 22-year-old along with his mother Maggie, were found shot to death at their hunting lodge in June 2021.
Buster accused of being linked to the 2015 death of former friend Stephen Smith
According to the Netflix Documentary The Murdaugh Murders, Buster has also been accused of being linked to the involvement of the death of Stephen Smith, a former friend whose body was found in Hampton County in 2015.
Smith, 19, was found dead on the side of the road about 10 miles from the Murdaugh’s house.
In the docuseries, some of the locals allege that the Murdaughs might have been involved in his death.
Smith’s death is still under investigation and the Murdaugh family has not been charged with any crime linked to the death.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk