A pretrial hearing in the Alex Murdaugh murder case descended into chaos on Monday when the defense accused prosecutors of misappropriation of evidence.
Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, accused prosecutors of “hijacking” the hearing by withholding evidence.
“I don’t trust the state to follow the rules! So far they haven’t arrived,” he said. “I’m sorry if I’m upset, but every time we turn around they’re trying to hide something.”
Hapootlian has also previously accused prosecutors of leaking information to the press, which Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters vehemently denied on Monday.
‘I don’t play fast and easy!’ yelled Waters, denying both allegations against him.
Waters asked for a gag on evidence gathered in the 13-month investigation into the murder of the Murdaugh family and said so “Probably worth over a million dollars” and that the case was “unprecedented” corruption in South Carolina.
Judge Clifton Newman agreed with the gag order, saying the court has a responsibility to prevent a “carnival-like atmosphere” from developing around the case. He also ordered search warrants to be unsealed and turned over to the defense.
“In this case, we have become extremely divided on this point from the parties who sought agreement in a gag order a few weeks ago,” the judge said.
Murdaugh’s trial is not scheduled to begin until next year.
Murdaugh’s defense attorney Dick Harpootlian (left) and Assistant Attorney General Creighton Waters (right)
Alex Murdaugh, 54, in court at a pretrial hearing for his murder trial on Monday. He was charged with the murders of his wife and son in July
Murdaugh, 54, was charged in July with the murder of his wife Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22, who were killed at the family home on June 7, 2021. He has adamantly denied killing her.
If convicted of murder, Murdaugh faces 30 years of life imprisonment without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed.
The evidence drama arose earlier this month when Murdaugh’s defense accused prosecutors of withholding information, telling a press conference “It’s an ambush trial”.
“Give us the stuff. I don’t have a piece of paper. I have no email. I don’t have an exhibition. I have no proof,’ said Harpootlian.
If convicted of murder, Murdaugh faces 30 years of life imprisonment without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed
Murdaugh in shackles outside the Colleton County Courthouse in South Carolina earlier this year
The defense said it is waiting for the evidence so it can hire experts to review GPS data that authorities could say connects Murdaugh to the shooting, or physical evidence, such as blood spatter and DNA, that the Investigators could use to say he fired either gun they said was used in the murders.
“We are ready to work. Ready to hire investigators, ready to hire experts,’ said Harpootlian, ‘I only know what I’ve read on some blog. I’ve never seen evidence of blood spatter.
“I’ve never seen cell phone downloads. I’ve never seen any witness testimony. Thirty-two days after we made the request, we still have nothing.”
Calling the request a “blatant attempt to create drama where there previously was none,” the state said the state has no desire to bar the defense from discovery and they will proceed with it if the court gives the green light “.
“This fabricated drama is just a known part of the defense attorney’s playbook,” the attorney general’s office said.
Thirteen months ago, Murdaugh told police he “found” the bodies of his youngest son and his wife at the dog kennels on the family hunting property around 10pm.
In the tone of the 911 call he placed at 10:07 p.m. that evening, he could be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech, “I need the police and an ambulance right away. My wife and child were just badly shot.’
People reported that Maggie was shot shortly after arriving at the property and claimed she left her car running while walking to the kennels where Paul had been standing. He had taken photos of a friend’s dog he had been watching.
Paul was shot twice with a shotgun – once in the head and once in the chest. Maggie was shot multiple times with an assault rifle. Her gunshot wounds were believed to be consistent with “execution”-style killings, reports said.
According to multiple sources, Paul’s body was found partially in one of the kennels while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down.
At least two of her gunshot wounds are said to have been inflicted while she was lying on the ground.
Murdaugh, 54, with his wife Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, 22. He was charged with her murders in July
Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were found dead in the grounds of the family home on June 7, 2021. Maggie was killed with an assault rifle while Paul had been killed with a shotgun
In the immediate aftermath of the horrifying discoveries, Murdaugh’s family and attorneys staunchly defended the man and his marriage.
According to Harpootlian, Murdaugh had an “iron alibi” and his marriage to Maggie was “filled with love”. But in recent months, a very different picture has emerged that calls both claims into question.
It remains unconfirmed what his possible motive was for killing his wife and son, but at the time of their deaths, Murdaugh – a lawyer – was suffocating in debt thanks to a crippling opioid addiction.
Murdaugh’s murder charge came in July, a day after the South Carolina Supreme Court stripped him of his license
His furious wife had consulted divorce lawyers after being left red-faced at charity dinners where her donation checks had bounced.
Paul had also gotten the family into legal trouble. In 2019, he was driving a boat when it crashed and threw 19-year-old Mallory Beach overboard. She died in the accident, and it was later revealed that Paul was drunk.
In the months following the murders of Maggie and Paul, Murdaugh was ousted from his law practice for allegations that he had embezzled millions of dollars over a number of years.
Murdaugh’s murder charge in July came a day after the South Carolina Supreme Court finally stripped him of his license.
“Today is another step in a long process for justice for Maggie and Paul,” Mark Keel, the chief of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, said in a statement.
Murdaugh, who has previously been charged with insurance fraud, theft, lying to the police and multiple other offenses.
He is also accused of paying a man to shoot him dead in September last year so his surviving son Buster could collect a $10 million insurance policy.
Curtis Smith, the hitman allegedly hired by Murdaugh, botched the job and fired a bullet that just grazed him.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11157995/Alex-Murdaugh-court-hearing-descends-chaos-lawyers-screaming-match.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Alex Murdaugh’s trial is thrown into chaos when lawyers exchange a screaming match