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Murdaughs

Alex Murdaugh’s Attorneys Seek Money For His Appeal

“Untainted” funds?

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Attorneys for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh filed a motion in Hampton County, South Carolina this week requesting the transfer of $160,000 to subsidize the appeal of his recent murder convictions.

Attorneys Dick HarpootlianJim Griffin and Maggie Fox – all of whom represented Murdaugh in his double homicide trial in Colleton County – want to access the money from an escrow account set up to protect Murdaugh’s finances so that victims of his financial crimes can be compensated.

The attorneys are seeking money from the account to appeal his recent convictions and the sentences imposed against him instead.

Their motion specifically cited Murdaugh’s Sixth Amendment right to hire the counsel of his choice from untainted funds. It was filed in connection with an ongoing wrongful death case filed in Hampton County on behalf of the family of Mallory Beach.

(Via: S.C. Fourteenth Judicial Circuit)

Readers will recall Beach’s family sued a host of defendants – including Murdaugh – in the aftermath of a tragic boat crash that claimed her life on February 24, 2019. Brought by Allendale, S.C. attorney Mark Tinsley, the lawsuit is viewed by many as the impetus for the collapse of the once-powerful  “House of Murdaugh” – a family which ran the Palmetto Lowcounty like a fiefdom for nearly a century.

The lawsuit connects to the Murdaughs most directly via the late Paul Murdaugh – who was allegedly at the helm of the 17-foot, center console Sea Hunt fishing boat when it slammed into a piling near the Archer’s Creek Bridge outside of Parris Island, S.C. on that fateful early winter morning. Seconds before the boat crashed, GPS data obtained by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) indicated the vessel was traveling at a speed of approximately 29 miles per hour (or approximately 25 knots).

Beach was flung into the cold, dark waters upon the boat’s impact with the bridge piling. Her body was discovered a week later by fishermen.

Given its significance to all the developments which followed, the boat crash is the centerpiece of the hit Netflix documentary, ‘Murdaugh Murders: A Southern Scandal.’

The boat allegedly driven by Paul Murdaugh at the time of the crash belonged to Alex Murdaugh – the disbarred 54-year-old attorney who was found guilty of savagely slaying both Paul and his mother (Alex's wife), 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh, on the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property straddling the Salkehatchie River on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties on June 7, 2021.

S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences for those murders - and he began his new existence as S.C. Department of Corrections (SCDC) inmate No. 00390394 on March 3, 2023.

The receivership over Murdaugh's assets was ordered by S.C. circuit court judge Daniel Hall on November 2, 2021 after a series of shady legal maneuvers in which Murdaugh confessed judgment in lawsuits filed against him by his brother, Randolph Murdaugh IV, and his former law partner, John E. Parker – basically attempting to bypass other creditors as well as victims of his myriad alleged financial fleecings.

Hall's order put a stop to these maneuvers – imposing an asset-freezing injunction and appointing receivers to manage and recover funds to pay alleged victims currently suing Alex Murdaugh.

Hall entered a subsequent order last fall permitting Murdaugh to liquidate his 401(k) retirement account and route $600,000 of the funds for his defense in the murder trial. This agreement required the balance of funds from the retirement account -- $424,941.24 -- to be deposited with the Receivers on or about December 22, 2022.

(Click to View)

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian objects during Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Friday, February 10, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

According to Harpootlian, Griffin and Fox, the funds received from Murdaugh’s retirement account for his defense "have been exhausted" and their defense of the convicted murderer cost them an additional $518,722.50 in out-of-pocket defense costs and trial counsel received attorneys’ fees in the amount of $81,277.50. They further asserted fees received by counsel were "grossly insufficient to cover the actual attorney’s fees incurred preparing for and defending Murdaugh during the six-week trial." The conservative estimate the team provided in the motion of the total attorneys’ fees incurred during the trial alone is $700,000 -- which they say does not include any compensation for legal services preparing the case for trial.

As mentioned, Murdaugh's defense team is requesting the court allow for an additional $160,000 from the escrow account held by the receivers to pay for fees and expenses to represent Murdaugh on appeal -- invoking his Sixth Amendment right to “a fair opportunity to secure counsel of his own choice.” The motion alleged Murdaugh has "sufficient 'innocent' property to pay the undersigned (Harpootlian, Griffin and Fox), his counsel of choice, to represent him in the appeal of his convictions and sentences."

The attorneys claim the $424,941.24 from Murdaugh’s 401(k) retirement account deposited into the Receivers’ escrow account "are legitimate, untainted funds" and they further believe "there are additional funds that have been deposited into the Receivers’ escrow account that do not represent the proceeds from illegal activities."

Assuming Hall does not allow funds required to pay Murdaugh's legal team for his appeal, his attorneys suggested the burden for his appeal would shift to "overworked appellate public defenders."

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Attorney Justin Bamberg - who represents a number of the victims of Murdaugh's financial crimes - took to social media with a scathing rebuke of the motion.

"On behalf of my clients ... including the late HaKeem Pinckney, the late Blondell Gary, and others reliving their personal trauma that are still with us, I will be formally OBJECTING to Alex Murdaugh’s request," Bamberg said.

Regarding the claim made by Murdaugh's attorneys that the funds were "legitimate, untainted funds," Bamberg's response was unambiguous.

"I absolutely disagree," he wrote. "None of Alex’s money is 'untainted' in my opinion based on his admissions during his murder trial. I also don’t believe him not being allowed to take money that could go to his victims for himself instead violates his constitutional rights. To the contrary, Alex getting that money to fight an appeal only victimizes his victims once again."

Regarding Murdaugh's Sixth Amendment right to counsel, Bamberg said he "should NOT be entitled to deprive his financial victims of the limited amount of funds available — not a single penny, Bitcoin, Dogecoin, or anything else of value — so he can continue trying to get or keep himself out of prison."

Murdaugh's attorneys have submitted a notice of appeal, however they have yet to formally submit a document articulating the grounds. Count on this news outlet to keep our audience updated on the latest developments ...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews' incomparable research director. She's also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she's married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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17 comments

Ron Proffitt Top fan March 23, 2023 at 5:58 pm

How much does that thief have in escrow??? I’m shocked he hadn’t figured out how to hide that…

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Ralph Hightower Top fan March 23, 2023 at 6:26 pm

Hey Dick,
Create a GoFundMe for Alex.

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Thomas Black Top fan March 23, 2023 at 8:40 pm

Maybe Harpootian and Griffin can do it pro bono for their buddy, Murdaugh. They might should have had one less lawyer for he trial? That’d have left a few funds available.

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The Colonel Top fan March 23, 2023 at 11:38 pm

They should be “proud” to represent “Elick” pro bono!

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Ralph Hightower Top fan March 24, 2023 at 5:32 pm

Now that Murdaugh is a convicted felon, there shouldn’t be any question about shackled or not. Plus, he won’t have a choice of what to wear for his other trials.

Prison jumpsuit with ankle and wrist shackles.

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Morty W Top fan March 24, 2023 at 10:51 am

Perhaps had the defense Dream Team booked $47 a night rooms at the Walterboro Econo Lodge in lieu of $20 Large weekly at the luxury venue they stayed in for 6 weeks they might have a little left to blow on a token appeal.

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Lori Seigel Top fan March 24, 2023 at 11:40 am

Not one more dime on behalf of Murdaugh. He watched Gloria Satterfield’s trailer home, where her challenged adult son was living, be foreclosed on as he pocketed the money he stole from suing his own insurance companies on her two sons’ behalf. And his “Dream Team” spent $20,000 per week, complete with chef, on an exclusive-use 500-acre venue property with swimming pool, during theirvstay in Walterboro. Public defenders would be most appropriate now. Murdaugh victims got Cory Fleming.

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SubZeroIQ March 24, 2023 at 6:19 pm

Jen Wood should update the caption under her photo. The double murder trial is no longer “upcoming” but is already done. Accurate research and reporting begins at home. BTW, Justin Bamberg would first have to establish standing to object to a motion in a case in which his clients are not parties. But he probably lost any standing he would have had by going to social media first instead of holding his arguments on standing to a court.

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B B BROCKMAN Top fan March 29, 2023 at 9:47 am

SubZeroIQ, Sounds to me like you might be one of the 1% who support the Monster Alex…

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SubZeroIQ March 29, 2023 at 11:17 am

I support decency, SCIENCE, and the Constitution. Science tells us that human beings do NOT die the moment their i-phones lock and many other things which make it PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE for Alex Murdaugh to have committed those murders. The Constitution (as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court) tells us that a criminal defendant has due process rights to freedom from prejudicial publicity and to a jury of his peers, not a jury of his haters, which Alex Murdaugh received. And decency tells us you do not (figuratively) dance on two people’s graves and, without basis, mock the tears of a grieving father and widower. Decency tells us you allow a self-admitted addict to recover and rehabilated and call him what he is, a patient, not a monster.

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Stephen McMillan March 24, 2023 at 11:02 pm

Just as you think this bunch of narcissists can’t come up with something even more disgusting…BANG! Let’s get the victims of his crimes to pay for his defence. What a bunch of unconscionable assholes. You have to be some sort of higher-level narcissist and psychopath to come up with that. Murdaugh truly believes he’s getting out, according to his phone calls. His appeal will fall flat on its face. Statler and Waldorf will walk away all the richer from a pointless appeal and that’s what’s happening here. What are the grounds for his appeal? They were utterly poor during the trial, misunderstanding tech information and making themselves look like dinosaurs. They abused witnesses because they had nothing else. I don’t believe that there is any basis for any appeal. If Dick was getting death threats before this new revelation, he’d better go and live on the moon if this stroke is pulled. It’s utterly disrespectful. Alex Murdaugh should be thankful that he’s not sitting on Death Row and do the honourable thing by serving his sentence. There isn’t a person on the planet that doesn’t know about this case. Who would dare to overturn the court’s decision? It;s disrespectful tp Maggie and Paul and yet, he cares not. He cares about one person, as he always has.

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SubZeroIQ March 26, 2023 at 10:31 am

According to you, Larry Youngblood, Sam Sheppard, and Michael Morton, to name just three of the THOUSANDS of later-exonerated people, should never have pursued their own appeals just because they had been convicted by a jury, not of their true peers but of their haters. Yet, you laid your finger on a nerve I began to worry about as soon as Alex Murdaugh’s defense announced intent to appeal: intimidation of the appellate courts through pre-appeal and circum-appeal prejudicial publicity. After all, there ARE statistical studies indicating that sentencing courts and appellate courts are influenced by public opinion in death penalty cases. Theory in one thing, reality is another. God protect us all from the lynch mob.

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B B BROCKMAN Top fan March 29, 2023 at 9:52 am

I love to read comments from people like SubZeroIQ, I’m sure she thought OJ was innocent as well. You are basically saying that if I rob a bank and get caught, I get to keep the money is stole from the bank to pay my defense lawyers. I’m guessing you are a left wing liberal, who prove every time you speak that you are one of the liberals, “who don’t know, you don’t know!”

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SubZeroIQ March 29, 2023 at 11:31 am

Not that I owe a disclosure of my beliefs, but because I am proud of them: I believe that life begins at FERTILIZATION, which is even earlier than IMPLANTATION and that drugs and IUDs which work by preventing implantation COMMIT MURDER of the unborn by homelessness. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman BUT ONLY ONCE unless one side commits adultry, which means MOST DIVORCES are adultries. I believe the death penalty AND WAR are state-sanctioned murders. And, that is the part which will make you hate me most, America has neither the best legal system nor the best medical system in the world. BTW, I am scientifically convinced that O.J. committed the two murders of which he was acquitted, WHICH PROVES JURIES CAN GET IT WRONG either way: they can acquit the guilty and convict the innocent. Nothing is magical about juries, specially if subjected to the horrendous prejudicial AND INTIMIDATING publicity, which YOU have been extending against Alex Murdaugh’s constitutional right to appeal. 2nd BTW, I hold two graduate degrees, speak four languages, and defended myself SUCCESSFULLY and WITHOUT A LAWYER against fake criminal charges before a jury with Judge Clifton Newman presiding. What is it that you think YOU know more than I do which allows you to insult my intelligence, integrity, and education?

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B B BROCKMAN Top fan March 29, 2023 at 9:52 am

I love to read comments from people like SubZeroIQ, I’m sure she thought OJ was innocent as well. You are basically saying that if I rob a bank and get caught, I get to keep the money is stole from the bank to pay my defense lawyers. I’m guessing you are a left wing liberal, who prove every time you speak that you are one of the liberals, “who don’t know, you don’t know!”

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SubZeroIQ March 29, 2023 at 11:35 am

You would be very lucky if there were “people like SubZeroIQ.” She is unique and has the courage and culture to speak her conscience. But thanks for unwittingly recognizing her uniqueness by posting your reply twice.

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SubZeroIQ April 7, 2023 at 12:52 pm

God willing, before the year ends, Richard Alexandar Murdaugh (“AM”) shall be freed on appeal. His trial was so tainted with prejudicial pre-trial and circum-trial publicity it cannot even be called a trial. He was convicted, not by a jury of his peers as the Constitution guarantees, but by a jury of his haters and of media-parroters. Before AM, Sam Sheppard was wrongly convicted of the murder of his wife, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed due to the prejudicial publicity, and Lo and Behold, the real killer was found later. Between Sam Sheppard and AM, time-wise, was Micheal Morton, who spent 25 years wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his wife when another man had committed that murder AND the Prosecution had leads it could have followed to the real killer. AM is a reformed addict and has faced up to his past misdeeds with courage and dignity. He should not remain convicted of murders of which he is innocent. I thank God for the few honest and perceptive people who have the decency to comfort AM with supportive letters to his prison cell. I was a prisoner and you did not visit me, said the Jesus Christ whose crucifiction the Western Church celebrates today. God bless.

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