COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina is responding to recent motions filed by lawyers for disgraced former attorney Alex Murdaugh requesting the state disclose what they believe to be the motive behind Murdaugh allegedly killing his wife and son as both sides prepare for a January trial.

“While motive is not an element of the case, motive is the most important fact the jury would want to know in understanding why Defendant murdered his own wife and son,” the state wrote in its filing.

They said to properly evaluate a motive, the jury would need to understand “the distinction between who Alex Murdaugh appeared to be to the outside world – a successful layer and scion of the most prominent family in the region – and who he was in real life only he fully knew – an allegedly crooked lawyer and drug user who borrowed and stole where he could to stay afloat and one step ahead of detection.”

State authorities said proof of Murdaugh’s years of misappropriations, lies, loans, debts, and thefts are necessary to explain that distinction to a jury.

They also want to show how the former attorney avoided accountability for allegedly defrauding victims of over $8.7 million.

“Only then can a jury understand that the clouds of Defendant’s past were gathering into a perfect storm that was going to expose the real Alex Murdaugh to the world,” the state wrote.

Murdaugh is expected in court Friday for a pretrial status hearing. The murder trial is expected to begin January 23, 2022.