After numerous delays to allow court reporters time to prepare a voluminous transcript from his six-week trial, convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys appear to be making headway related to his appeal.
Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and accused/ admitted fraudster from Hampton, South Carolina, was found guilty by a Colleton County jury of the graphic 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, at the conclusion of a six-week trial in Walterboro, S.C.
The trial gained international attention given the gruesomeness of the crime – as well as Murdaugh’s status as a member of the once-powerful “House of Murdaugh,” a family which ran the Palmetto Lowcountry like a fiefdom for nearly a century. Three Murdaughs held the post of S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor between 1920-2006 – and Murdaugh himself was a badge-carrying assistant solicitor at the time of the murders.
Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal on March 9, 2023, however they have yet to formally submit a document articulating the grounds upon which they believe their client’s conviction should be overturned.
Trial transcripts were ordered on March 21, 2023. Extensions were subsequently requested on May 17 and June 16. The latest round of extensions was filed with the South Carolina Court of Appeals on August 18, 2023 requesting yet another extension to September 17, 2023.
As we await the transcripts, though, it is becoming apparent that Murdaugh’s lawyers have something significant up their sleeve.
In an appearance with News Nation‘s Chris Cuomo on August 31, 2023, Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin indicated Murdaugh’s legal team had been busy interviewing the jurors who served during the lengthy trial.
“We’re still waiting on the final transcripts so we can prepare the briefs,” Griffin told Cuomo. “Frankly, we have been working very diligently interviewing jurors and the information that we have unearthed so far has, in my experience as a lawyer, been unprecedented.”
“I don’t want to say any more about that,” Griffin added.
Pressed by Cuomo for more details, Griffin responded, “I promise you, you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the very near future. There (are) serious questions as to whether this jury was subjected to outside influences during the case.”
(Click to view)
According to our sources at the S.C. State House, Murdaugh’s attorneys have requested space in front of the S.C. court of appeals this coming Tuesday (September 5, 2023) at 2:30 p.m. EDT for the purpose of holding a press conference related to the case.
Murdaugh’s trial had plenty of strange moments. During the trial, four jurors were replaced with alternates due to Covid-19 or illness, but the dismissal of a fifth juror by Newman midway through closing arguments had everyone buzzing.
Newman removed the juror in question for allegedly having improper conversations with three individuals regarding “evidence and testimony at that point in the trial.” The juror compounded the problem by allegedly lying to Newman about these communications – violating his order that jurors not discuss the case with anyone (or each other).
Following the trial’s conclusion, Columbia, S.C. attorney Joe McCulloch – a fixture at the Murdaugh trial – issued a statement on behalf of the juror asking the public and members of the media to stop trying to contact her.
“I am reaching out to the press and public today on behalf of juror No. 785 who was excused from the jury in the State v. Murdaugh case just prior to deliberations,” McCulloch said in the statement. “I am requesting that everyone respect her privacy at both her home and her place of work. While other jurors have chosen to comment, which is their prerogative, that is not her desire at this time.”
(Click to view)
As this news outlet reported at the time, had this juror remained on the panel she would have likely wound up keeping the state from securing convictions against Murdaugh.
“She was dug in,” a source familiar with the deliberations confirmed. “She said he was ‘not guilty’ and there was nothing anyone could do to change her mind.”
“She would have hung the jury,” another source confirmed.
Most believed Murdaugh’s appeal would focus on the controversial admissibility of evidence related to his alleged financial crimes. However, as FITSNews previously reported, sources familiar with the situation say defense attorneys may have an “ace up their sleeve” on another subject.
Is that ace related to alleged jury tampering?
Whatever cards wind up getting played, finding a majority of appeals court judges – or supreme court justices – to overturn Murdaugh’s conviction remains a steep climb, according to Palmetto State lawyers we spoke with.
As he awaits the formal filing of the appeal of his murder convictions, Murdaugh has yet to go to trial on more than 100 counts of alleged financial criminality. In addition to the various state charges he is facing, Murdaugh has also been charged federally with nearly two dozen financial crimes.
While he initially pleaded not guilty to these charges, a change of plea hearing has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, September 21, 2023 at the Waring Judicial Center in Charleston, S.C. before district court judge Richard Gergel
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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 [email protected].
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to proactively address? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.