S.C. Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman ruled Monday that jurors in the Colleton County double murder trial of disbarred Hampton County lawyer Alex Murdaugh are allowed to hear evidence of his alleged financial misdeeds totaling in the millions of dollars.

Newman ruled the jury is entitled to consider whether the “apparent desperation” and “dire financial situation” resulted in the killings of his wife and youngest son. According to the  Associated Press, “Newman said he didn’t think the financial crime evidence alone would persuade the jury to convict Murdaugh of murder.”

Prosecutors have said witnesses to Murdaugh’s alleged financial crimes are key to their case against the former lawyer, claiming he committed the 2021 murders to get sympathy and buy time to cover up the alleged crimes.

Defense lawyers say the supposed motive doesn’t make logical sense and argued prosecutors are trying to smear Murdaugh’s name with behavior not related to the killings. 

In other headlines:

Biden to give State of the Union address tonight. President Joe Biden will deliver a State of the Union address tonight that is expected to lay down an economic challenge to the newly-installed Republican-led lower chamber. Among those attending is a North Charleston woman diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 who met First Lady Jill Biden in 2021. The White House told the press that Darlene Gaffney was invited because she personifies themes that will be in the speech.

Rescuers struggle to search for survivors in Turkey, Syria. The death toll is likely to increase after the initial earthquake that struck south central Turkey. Some workers are looking for survivors in near-freezing temperatures. The death toll has now reached more than 5,000 people. 

S.C. Republicans to appeal redistricting case to U.S. Supreme Court. State justices ruled in early January that the boundaries of the First Congressional District in the Lowcountry passed by the Republican-dominated state Legislature were unconstitutional as a discriminatory racial gerrymander. Now, S.C. Republican lawmakers plan to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court to avoid redrawing the map.

Boeing plans to cut finance, HR jobs in 2023. The aerospace company plans to make nearly 2,000 staffing cuts in its finance and human resources departments in 2023.

Charleston vertical farm gets money from SCRA. The S.C. Research Authority has awarded more seed money for Charleston-based Heron Farms. The startup company, which received a $250,000 grant this year, will use the new proceeds to expand its vertical farming operations.

Savannah Highway intersection project moving forward. Charleston County is moving forward with its Savannah Highway Capacity and Intersection Improvements Project at the intersections of Dupont Road/Stinson Drive and Wappoo Road. The project includes adding a left turn lane, realigning Dupont Road with Stinson Drive, adding a new sidewalk and installing marked crosswalks.

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