Alex Murdaugh – dragged into the deep waters of financial testimony after taking the witness stand at his own murder trial last month – did his best to exonerate his friend and co-conspirator, Russell Laffitte. Laffitte, the former chief executive of Palmetto State Bank, was found guilty of six financial crimes in federal court on November 22, 2022.
Quick to capitalize on this “opportunity,” attorneys for Laffitte submitted a motion for a new trial on the basis that “newly discovered evidence” entitled their client to re-litigate his charges. Federal prosecutors argued this motion “should be denied” in their latest submission to the court (.pdf).
Those convicted of federal crimes can be entitled to a new trial for a number of different reasons including prejudicial errors, jury misconduct, ineffective counsel and/or the discovery of new evidence that could not have been discovered with due diligence before the trial (evidence which would have likely resulted in an acquittal if presented at a new trial).
The government’s motion, signed by assistant U.S. attorney Kathleen Stoughton (the feds’ chief appellate attorney in South Carolina), argued Murdaugh’s testimony that “Russell Laffitte never conspired with me to do anything, whatever was done was done by me” did not constitute the kind of new evidence necessary to warrant a second trial.
Prosecutors pointed to United States v. Griffin, a case which also involved a defendant who intended to call their codefendant – only to have the codefendant notify the court of their intent to avail themselves of their Fifth Amendment protection from self incrimination if called to testify.
Like Laffitte, Griffin was convicted, and his codefendant produced a sworn statement declaring he would testify that his codefendant did not take part in the crime.
The fourth circuit ruled the this statement, similar to the statement Murdaugh made in court on day twenty-three of his murder trial, “does not constitute newly discovered evidence within the meaning of Rule 33.”
Prosecutors unequivocally argued that Laffitte “seeks a new trial based solely on the testimony of an unindicted coconspirator who has now admitted that for years, he stole money from his clients and lied to his family, friends, law partners, employees, clients, and law enforcement.”
They further argued Murdaugh’s testimony is “not credible, and there is no probability that it would result in an acquittal on any of the Defendant’s counts of conviction.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
(Via: Coleman Rojhan)
Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Dylan primarily covers education when he isn’t producing video content. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.
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