The office of South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson sought and obtained three indictments from a grand jury in Beaufort County, S.C. this week in connection with the February 24 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach.
The 19-year-old Hampton, S.C. native died tragically when a 17-foot center console fishing boat slammed into a pylon near the Archer’s Creek bridge just north of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) at Parris Island in Beaufort County, S.C.
Her body was found a week later – five miles away from the crash site – with the local coroner identifying the cause of death as blunt force trauma and drowning.
All of the surviving passengers on the boat were described by local law enforcement as being “grossly intoxicated” in the aftermath of the crash. Also, all of them were underage at the time the accident occurred.
On Thursday, 20-year-old Paul T. Murdaugh of Hampton, S.C. was charged by the grand jury with one count of boating under the influence resulting in death and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.
If convicted, Murdaugh could face up to 25 years in prison on the fatal boating under the influence charge (with a minimum of a year behind bars) and up to 15 years in prison (with a minimum of thirty days in jail) on the two bodily injury charges, per the S.C. Code of Laws (§ 50-21-113).
The indictments were announced just one day after Wilson’s office received a yet-to-be released report on the incident prepared by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).
That news broke exclusively on this site, however news of the indictments – like most of the big scoops related to this case – was exclusively reported by reporters Mandy Matney and Teresa Moss of The (Hilton Head, S.C.) Island Packet.
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As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Murdaugh is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such a time as he may wish to enter a plea in connection with the charges filed against him.
As we have noted in our previous coverage, Wilson was on the hot seat in this case after S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone recused himself – citing his connections to the powerful Lowcountry family at the epicenter of the tragic tale. A local sheriff and two S.C. circuit court judges have also recused themselves.
“For nearly a century, the Murdaugh name has stood for three things throughout South Carolina: power, justice and big money,” Monk and Dulaney wrote in their article. “Three generations of Murdaughs have been state prosecutors, putting thousands of people in prison and sending more than a dozen to death row in a five-county, low-lying region of swamps, Spanish moss and forests where moonshiners once plied a thriving trade. And year after year, the family law firm in Hampton has won millions of dollars in civil lawsuits, relentlessly pursuing those at fault in fatal collisions.”
Wilson did not stay on the hot seat for long, though, acting decisively in filing these charges against Murdaugh.
According to our sources, the SCDNR report contains “significant details” related to the charges filed – although they declined to discuss those details.
In addition to the criminal case against Paul Murdaugh, three other members of his influential family are named along with other parties in a wrongful death case filed by Beach’s mother, Renee Beach.
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