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Alex Murdaugh trial suspended as courthouse evacuated due to security issue

Jury sees new evidence in Alex Murdaugh trial
Jury hears evidence of Alex Murdaugh's alleged financial crimes in murder trial 04:07

The South Carolina courthouse where former attorney Alex Murdaugh's murder trial is taking place was evacuated Wednesday due to a security issue, officials said. 

"A bomb threat was received by Colleton County courthouse personnel," a spokesperson for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said in a statement.

"The building has been evacuated and SLED along with the Colleton County Sheriff's Office are investigating the threat," the statement continued. "No additional information is available from SLED at this time."

Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman is presiding over the case as Murdaugh's trial — for an alleged double-homicide that has been widely publicized for years — enters its third week. In a live stream of Wednesday's proceeding, Newman can be heard calling a sudden recess around 12:30 p.m.

"Ladies and gentleman, we have to evacuate the building at this time," the judge said. "So, we'll be in recess until we discover what's going on."

Murdaugh, 54, is a disbarred lawyer previously known for his family's status as prominent legal figures in South Carolina, their home state. He has been accused of shooting and killing his late wife, Margaret, 52, and their son, Paul, 22, in June 2021.

The case has led to a slew of allegations and 100 criminal charges for various alleged financial and legal offenses, including computer crimes, money laundering, forgery and breach of trust with fraudulent intent. Various indictments from prosecutors and a state grand jury allege Murdaugh stole settlement money, as well other funds, from his former clients, supposedly amounting to about $6.2 million. 

In an indictment filed six months after Margaret Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh's killings, prosecutors also accused Murdaugh of crimes including operating a drug trafficking ring and allegedly attempting to fake his own death in an effort to secure a $10 million life insurance payout for his surviving son, Buster.

Murdaugh has insisted throughout the criminal investigation into his wife and youngest son's deaths that he did not kill them. The disgraced attorney has said that when he found them shot to death at the family's hunting estate in Colleton County on the evening of June 7, 2021, he had recently returned to the property from a visit with his mother, who has dementia. 

Murdaugh pleaded not guilty last summer to murder charges implicating him as the gunman. 

If convicted of double-homicide, Murdaugh could face a prison sentence of 30 years. Prosecutors previously said they did not intend to seek the death penalty in his case.

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