Last month, South Carolina state senator Dick Harpootlian – the lead lawyer for disbarred attorney/ accused killer Alex Murdaugh – was (loudly) driving the narrative in the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga.
At a dramatic hearing in Walterboro, S.C. before S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman, Harpootlian accused the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson of leaking information related to the Murdaugh case to members of the media. Specifically, to this news outlet.
Boisterous and indignant, a red-faced Harpootlian further accused Wilson of trying to “hide the ball“ by concealing evidence in the case from him and fellow defense attorney, Jim Griffin.
Again, though … that was last month.
This month? Harpootlian has been as quiet as a church mouse.
What shut him up? The arrival of more than a terabyte of data from Wilson’s office – files representing the bulk of the state’s current murder case against Murdaugh, a 54-year-old former attorney accused of committing the graphic June 7, 2021 slayings of his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh.
I say “current” because as we learned a few weeks ago, the investigation into this crime is very much still ongoing.
(Click to view)
Scheduled for trial in January in Colleton County, the case against Murdaugh (above) is – as our readers are well aware – incredibly strong.
There is damning forensic evidence. There is video evidence shredding his alibi. And there is phone data which should paint a compelling narrative of his motions on the fateful evening.
Still, Harpootlian only has to convince one Colleton County juror of his client’s innocence in order to win. Creighton Waters – the chief attorney for the statewide grand jury – must convince all twelve jurors Murdaugh is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
And remember … Colleton County is one of the five Lowcountry counties which for decades fell under the “House of Murdaugh,” the crumbling legal dynasty which has enjoyed near-dictatorial power over a five-county region in the southernmost tip of South Carolina for decades. Three generations of Murdaughs – including Alex’s late father, Randolph Murdaugh III – held the post of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor between 1920-2006.
Getting a guilty verdict against a Murdaugh in a courtroom where his relatives’ portraits are literally hanging on the walls will be no small task …
That’s especially true against an attorney like Harpootlian … who along with Griffin has seemingly found his stride in this case after months of bumbling and fumbling to find footing (and find a narrative that didn’t immediately collapse upon further inspection).
So far, Harpootlian’s only real public comments about the murder rap against his client came during a hearing held in Spartanburg, S.C. related to a high-profile wrongful death lawsuit tied to the Murdaugh family.
During that hearing, the veteran attorney said the state had presented “not much, if anything” related to a possible motive for the murders.
Beyond that, though, Harpootlian has offered up next-to-nothing about how he intends to defend his internationally infamous client – and has said absolutely nothing about the case since receiving the evidence three weeks ago.
Nor, for that matter, has Harpootlian responded to a motion from Wilson’s office seeking to ascertain whether he intends to invoke an insanity defense on Murdaugh’s behalf.
According to my sources, the defense attorneys’ silence will be broken very soon.
Having “digested” the evidence against their client, Murdaughs’ lawyers are reportedly preparing their first formal court filing since receiving the state’s evidence, sources familiar with the case told me this week.
What will this motion tell us about how they intend to defend Murdaugh? And will it address the question of whether Murdaugh will plead not guilty by reason of insanity?
Stay tuned …
In addition to the two murder charges, Murdaugh is also staring down a multitude of alleged financial crimes as well as drug charges and allegations of obstruction of justice tied to a fatal 2019 boat crash involving his late son. Additionally, he is facing fraud charges tied to a bizarre, botched suicide attempt last Labor Day in Hampton County.
If convicted on all of those charges, he would spend decades in prison – meaning prosecutors are essentially playing with “house money” as it relates to the murder charges.
Additionally, Murdaugh is a codefendant in multiple civil cases – including the aforementioned wrongful death lawsuit tied to the same boat crash.
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. And yes, he has many hats – including that San Jose Giants’ Pacific Coast League 75th Anniversary lid pictured above.
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