Battle erupts over ‘million dollar’ evidence in Murdaugh murder case

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It took less than a minute for a Monday hearing on allegations that Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and child to fall into chaos after the former South Carolina attorney’s attorney interrupted a prosecutor to charge him with trying ‘hijack’ the proceedings and hide evidence.

“I don’t trust the state to follow the rules! They’re not there yet,” Murdaugh attorney Richard Harpootlian said in the Colleton County court, accusing prosecutors of “hiding the ball.”

Last month, Murdaugh – a former legal power player whose family name has been synonymous with the law for decades – was indicted on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a gun while committing a violent crime. His alleged victims: his 52-year-old wife Margaret and their 22-year-old son Paul, who were shot dead in June 2021.

Authorities say the mother and son were both found dead near the hunting dog kennels on the family’s 1,700-acre property in Hampton County. Murdaugh was the one who called 911. While details of the prosecution’s case remain scarce, an indictment alleges that Maggie was killed with an assault rifle while apparently trying to flee from the crime scene. Paul was fatally shot at close range by a shotgun.

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Murdaugh’s legal team alleges that the South Carolina attorney general has campaigned since his arrest to leak information about the closed investigation into the 54-year-old former attorney. Last week, Harpootlian and his co-counselor Jim Griffin filed a “motion to coerce” in an effort to force the state to turn over any information they have about the Murdaugh investigation, claiming they have “100 percent” of lacked the evidence.

During Monday’s hearing, Harpootlian even attempted to call an agent from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as a witness. Judge Clifton Newman denied the request. Harpootlian then asked for a special master, or third observer, to manage the flow of discovery in the case.

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“This is a kind of game…. This is not a game, this is his [Murdaugh’s] life,” Harpootlian added, before arguing that the prosecution’s actions make it appear that they are “still investigating” his client rather than preparing for a trial.

Prosecutors dismissed the charges as baseless in their own motion, asking for a warrant to unlock search warrants, as well as a protective warrant that would seal all other evidence from the public ahead of the trial.

“I don’t play fast and loose!” shouted Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters. The prosecution told Newman that classified information in the case was “probably worth more than a million dollars” and that he wanted to protect it in the interest of a fair trial.

“Your Honor, I have not leaked anything,” Waters added, before indicating he planned to call a witness at Monday’s hearing to support his office’s request for a motion to suspend a gag order. to force, to support.

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Ultimately, Newman sided with the prosecutors and agreed to issue a protective order that would limit what discovery information is released to the public. However, the judge also ordered the state to provide evidence to Murdaugh’s lawyers, including search warrants that may eventually provide some details in the case against the former scion.

Since the deaths of his wife and son, Murdaugh has been involved in a slew of twisted crimes and misdeeds. Among them: orchestrating his own murder in a $10 million insurance plot on behalf of his surviving son, drug trafficking and dozens of financial crimes.

Murdaugh has also been involved in several lawsuits, including allegedly stealing millions from an unjustified death benefit for his former housekeeper – and colluding to influence the investigation of a boating accident involving his late son Paul. Murdaugh has not been charged in either case.