CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A key member of the team that successfully tried the state’s case against Alex Murdaugh for the murder of his wife and son is reflecting on the whirlwind trial.
John Meadors, a veteran prosecutor specializing in murder trials, was brought on by Attorney General Alan Wilson just weeks before the trial.
Known for his emotional and energetic style, Meadors said that what you see in the courtroom is real. He said that his passion is genuine and he still loves trying cases, even after all these years. What drives him is getting results for his clients, who are often going through the worst time of their lives.
Meadors said that the success was a result of a real team effort. He credited the whole prosecution team as well as the administrative staff and the law enforcement that they worked with, many of whom were witnesses in the trial.
South Carolina Law Enforcement (SLED) agent David Owen, who led SLED’s investigation into the murders, was integral to the state’s case. Owen conducted several interviews with Murdaugh in the days and months after the murders, which were presented as evidence during the trial. Owen also took the stand himself. Meadors said those interviews were crucial because Owen “locked [Murdaugh] in” to his claim that he was not at the kennels shortly before Maggie and Paul were killed. When the video from Paul’s phone surfaced and proved otherwise, Murdaugh was caught in the lie.
Another key member of law enforcement and witness was Colleton County Sheriff’s Office Detective Laura Rutland. Meadors called her an “incredible witness,” praising her description of Murdaugh’s demeanor shortly after the murders and her powerful testimony about Murdaugh’s cleanliness when law enforcement arrived. Those points contradicted Murdaugh’s claims that his mind was clouded by opioid-fueled paranoia when he spoke to law enforcement, and that he tried to turn the victims over and check their pulses when he first found them.
Meadors said he thinks the defense’s argument that law enforcement botched the investigation backfired.
The shining star of the trial, Meadors said, was Judge Clifton Newman. He said that South Carolina was well-represented by Newman, whom he described as having “a graceful, iron hand.”
One thing that surprised Meadors about the case was the widespread interest. He said he knew that people were intrigued by the twists and turns, but “the whole world was watching, apparently, and that… was surprising.”
Another thing that surprised Meadors was “the depth of deception that Alex Murdaugh went to.” He said that Murdaugh sacrificed everything — including his wife and son — to maintain the prominent façade he had built. Meadors believes that Murdaugh loved Paul and Maggie, but he loved himself more.