Prosecutors in the office of South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson are in the process of complying with the state’s rules of criminal procedure which require them to turn over over all evidence and other materials in their possession related to the double homicide investigation of 54-year-old Alex Murdaugh.
Obviously, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman declined to impose a gag order in this case – but protective orders could potentially be placed on documents tied to pending criminal investigations.
Which raises an interesting point … technically, aren’t all criminal investigations pending until the moment they go to trial?
Murdaugh is the focus of no fewer that six separate state criminal inquiries – including the double homicide inquiry, a financial crimes investigation (one that has already netted dozens of charges), a drug trafficking inquiry, an obstruction of justice probe and the investigation of a bizarre roadside shooting that took place last Labor Day.
There are also two other homicide investigations which allegedly have ties to the Murdaugh family – as well as a public corruption probe linked to the saga.
This web of alleged criminality is what my news outlet has referred to collectively as the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
As for the inquiry at hand, Murdaugh has been charged with two counts of murder and two counts of possessing a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in the June 7, 2021 murders of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh at the family’s Colleton County hunting property.
The evidence against Murdaugh in this double homicide is said to be overwhelming – although prosecutors were unable to tip their hand at Murdaugh’s bond hearing last month as they had reportedly been planning to do.
Why not? Because Harpootlian deftly declined to contest the state’s motion to deny bond – meaning prosecutors did not get the opportunity to provide a thumbnail sketch of their case in open court.
Nonetheless, prosecutor Creighton Waters got in one reference to the cards the state is holding.
“The evidence in this case is substantial,” Waters said. “It all comes back to Alex Murdaugh.”
What sort of evidence could be included in the materials provided to Harpootlian and Griffin?
As FITSNews exclusively reported back in April, high-velocity impact spatter was reportedly found on Murdaugh’s clothes – placing him at the scene of the murders when at least one of the victims in this case was killed. In early June, we reported on audio and video evidence obtained by investigators which called into question statements provided by Murdaugh to investigators.
Last month, we reported on cellular location data which could have assisted investigators in tracking Murdaugh’s movements at the time of the murders – helping them create a timeline for what may have happened on that fateful spring evening.
This highly anticipated disclosure of evidence – which I reported on late last week – could not be confirmed on Tuesday afternoon by Harpootlian. Similarly, Wilson spokesman Robert Kittle was unable to confirm that the handoff had occurred as late as Tuesday afternoon.
Monday afternoon was the deadline for the disclosure of this information after Harpootlian – a veteran attorney and sitting state senator – filed a motion on July 15, 2022 to compel production of the evidence.
Here is a copy of that motion …
(Click to view)
As you can see, Harpootlian’s expansive information request sought all of the evidence collected against his client including any “exculpatory” evidence – i.e. evidence collected by investigators that could conceivably work in Murdaugh’s favor.
Harpootlian’s request also sought any “promises, rewards and inducements” made to potential witnesses in the case – and any offers of immunity extended in connection with testimony.
Most impressively, the request demanded voluminous policy files related to the methods of the investigatory and prosecutorial agencies at the heart of this case – as well as “all communications generated by the state concerning the investigation of the defendant.”
South Carolina’s criminal procedure rules require prosecutors to “respond to the defendant’s request for disclosure no later than thirty days after the request is made, or within such other time as may be ordered by the court.”
Why are we now past that deadline?
Court sources told me late Tuesday that judge Newman was still reviewing a motion related to the disclosure of the files – but declined to discuss what the motion entailed. The same court source indicated certain documents requested by defense attorneys remained under seal – meaning Newman must decide when and how to unseal them. Once again, this source declined to discuss the nature of those documents.
Also, as mentioned earlier, Newman must decide whether to assign a protective order to any of the files.
According to a media advisory from his spokeswoman Amanda Loveday, Harpootlian has scheduled a press conference for tomorrow morning (Wednesday, August 17, 2022) at 11:00 a.m. EDT to update reporters on the status of the case.
Specifically, Harpootlian will be discussing a “recent motion asking a court to order the State of South Carolina to comply with their obligations under court rules and case law to furnish discovery material.”
Harpootlian is also expected to take questions following his remarks.
Count on this news outlet to attend that press conference and provide our readers with the very latest developments …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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