By Heather Ruppe
Colleton County was the scene of another dramatic chapter in the internationally-publicized courtroom case involving accused murderer and disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh.
On Monday, August 29th, Murdaugh’s defense team, which consists of Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, from Columbia, S.C., appeared in a Colleton County courtroom for what they are calling an alleged leak of information from the prosecutors involved in the case.
The defense team has accused the S.C. Attorney General’s Office of “illegally withholding evidence” from them, while giving it to news outlets, according to multiple media outlets.
On Friday, August 26th, Murdaugh’s defense team issued subpoenas to SLED, the State Law Enforcement Division, asking for specific evidence about the case.
The S.C. Attorney General’s Office is denying these allegations.
Words flew in court between Murdaugh’s legal team and with prosecutors, as the defense accused the state prosecutors of secretly leaking information about Murdaugh’s case. The prosecution denied these allegations. Ultimately, Judge Cliff Newman denied a request by Murdaugh’s defense team to call a SLED agent to the stand as a witness. Judge Newman also agreed with state prosecutors, who asked that a gag order be issued about the murder case against Murdaugh. This gag order would restrict what discovery information would get released to the public during the course of the trial.
Newman also ordered on Monday that the state give all evidence they have to Murdaugh’s attorneys.
On Monday, a spokeswoman for SLED told this newspaper it is “inappropriate” for her comment on the allegations, as the subpoena was issued to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.
Meanwhile, SLED continues to investigate multiple criminal cases directly and indirectly related to Murdaugh, who has more than three dozen criminal charges against him. The list ranges from money laundering, to double murder and insurance fraud, for attempting to orchestrate his own death.
Now an international figure for the crimes he is accused of, Murdaugh is a disgraced attorney from Hampton County whose family once carried heavy notoriety in the Lowcountry’s legal community. However, since being accused of many crimes, including the June 2021 murders of his wife and son, Murdaugh’s spiral from a once prominent family has become a very public scene.
In addition to the alleged murders of his youngest son, Paul, and of his wife, Maggie, Murdaugh is also accused of trying to plan his own death for the purpose of insurance fraud. Additionally, he is charged with multiple counts of embezzlement, where he allegedly stole more than $1 million from his former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick.
Murdaugh has since been disbarred from practicing law in South Carolina and his name has also been officially removed from his former law firm. Their new name is The Parker Group.
Murdaugh’s most recent criminal charges were handed down in recent weeks by the S.C. Grand Jury. These include nine new criminal counts, including several charges of money laundering, computer crime involving more than $10,000 and four counts of obtaining a signature by false pretenses for at least $10,000.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to crimes he is accused of, including the murders of his own and wife.