Murdaughs

Murdaugh Murders: Judge Issues Order On Disputed Blood Spatter Expert

Clifton Newman compels prosecutors, investigators to turn over communications with forensic expert …

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South Carolina circuit court judge Clifton Newman issued an order Monday in response to a motion filed last month by attorneys for accused killer Alex Murdaugh. The order – which Newman issued verbally during a December 9, 2022 court hearing in Colleton County, S.C. – compels prosecutors and investigators to turn over “materials concerning the expert opinions” of Oklahoma-based forensic analyst Tom Bevel.

Bevel is one of the experts retained by the state in its double homicide case against Murdaugh, who stands accused of savagely slaying his wife, 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, and their younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh on the evening of June 7, 2021. According to attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, Bevel has offered conflicting opinions as to the presence of high velocity blood spatter on a white T-shirt worn by Murdaugh the night his wife and son were murdered.

Newman’s order (.pdf) compels the state to turn over all communications with Bevel “including draft reports and presentations, case files, notes and Photoshop files.”

According to Harpootlian, agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) pressured Bevel to change his original report, which stated “the stains on the white T-shirt are consistent with transfers and not back spatter from a bullet wound (emphasis original).”

Bevel changed his story after SLED agents allegedly “cajoled” him during a visit to his office in Oklahoma, according to the defense. In fact, Harpootlian and Griffin insist the purpose of this trip was to intimidate the expert into reversing his original assessment of the evidence.

“How Bevel changed his mind is material to the credibility of his opinions on spatter evidence,” they noted.

During the December 9 hearing, lead prosecutor Creighton Waters – who was the subject of an expansive piece over the weekend from reporter Avery Wilks of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier – acknowledged he had not been made privy to what Harpootlian termed the “initial Bevel report.”

“That report was not provided to my office in the normal course of discovery,” Waters admitted.


According to Waters, he did not see the document until November 30, 2022 during a visit to SLED headquarters – a week after it was referenced in Harpootlian’s filing.

Waters said he was in the process of “assessing the viability” of the evidence – essentially determining whether to use it at trial. Accordingly, Waters asked Newman to “give scientists time to assess the science” before engaging in a debate over the viability of the evidence.

The original Bevel report was uncovered by Holli Miller, a paralegal in Harpootlian’s law office, out of more than a terabyte of data provided by the state.

“We were looking for a needle in that terabyte haystack,” Harpootlian said during the early December hearing.

How significant will this development be in the upcoming double homicide trial of Murdaugh?

Sources close to the state have told me the revelation does not change their trial strategy – nor does it impact the integrity of their case.

Is that true? We shall see …

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THE ORDER …

(Via: S.C. Fourteenth Judicial Circuit)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

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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