Attorneys for convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh announced today they are filing a motion seeking a new trial based on newly discovered evidence in connection with the case. Details of this evidence will be discussed during a press conference scheduled for this coming Tuesday (September 5, 2023) at 2:30 p.m. EST on the steps of the South Carolina court of appeals.
Murdaugh’s attorneys – led by state senator Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – did not say what new evidence they had uncovered. Nor did their media advisory distinguish whether the evidence in question related to the crime or the ensuing trial.
Griffin previously hinted at alleged jury tampering in a nationally televised interview last week.
Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and accused/ admitted fraudster from Hampton, S.C., 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.
Murdaugh’s trial garnered international attention given the gruesomeness of the crime – as well as his 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.
The evidence against Murdaugh was strong – but circumstantial. Still, the jury deliberated for only a few hours before returning its verdict. The following day, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case.
Murdaugh’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal six days later – 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. That’s not on them, though. They are still waiting for court reporters to provide the full transcript of the six-week trial.
It’s unknown what the newly discovered evidence is, but in an appearance with News Nation’s Chris Cuomo on August 31, 2023, Griffin indicated it could be related to the jury that convicted his client. Griffin told Cuomo 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.”
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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.”
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.
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 with whom we spoke.
A media advisory from Murdaugh spokeswoman Amanda Loveday stated copies of the filing will be distributed Tuesday morning prior to the press conference. Count on FITSNews to provide details of the filing as well as coverage of the press conference as the madness that surrounds the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga continues to unfold.
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].
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