The attorney who had the last word in convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s double homicide trial in Walterboro, South Carolina is facing allegations of prosecutorial misconduct – and could soon be on the receiving end of a formal complaint with the panel tasked with regulating lawyer conduct in the Palmetto State.
Assistant attorney general Johnny Meadors – who delivered the state of South Carolina’s impassioned rebuttal to defense attorney Jim Griffin‘s closing arguments on the final day of the Palmetto State’s ‘Trial of the Century’ – was accused of misconduct in Sumter County, S.C. during a hearing on Monday, according to multiple sources familiar with the proceedings.
This news outlet did not attend the hearing, however we spoke with multiple sources who did. We have also requested a transcript of the proceedings.
The hearing on Monday featured testimony from a federal prosecutor – Ben Garner – who reportedly conveyed information to Meadors regarding exculpatory evidence in the murder case of Diontrae Travon Epps.
Meadors allegedly failed to make this information known to the court, which could constitute a violation of the Brady rule. This landmark due process standard – which stems from a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case – requires prosecutors to turn over all available exculpatory evidence to a defendant prior to trial.
Exculpatory evidence refers to information that could either prove a defendant’s innocence or materially assist them in impeaching the credibility of the state’s case against them.
Epps, 30, of Sumter, S.C. was among those involved in the so-called “Sunoco Shootout” – a gang-on-gang firefight that erupted at the “Hop In” convenience store in downtown Sumter, S.C. at approximately 1:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday September 8, 2019.
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Garner appeared in Sumter under a subpoena. He reportedly testified to having a call with Meadors but declined to say whether he believed prosecutorial misconduct occurred, a source familiar with his testimony told this news outlet.
Criminal defense attorney Cameron Blazer – who was recently tapped as the public defender for the S.C. ninth judicial circuit – also testified at the hearing. Blazer represents a client in a federal case who provided a statement to authorities about the shooting – a statement which suggested Epps acted in self-defense.
Thirty-year-old Gregory “Donta” Middleton and his cousin, 30-year-old Michael Rogers – both of Sumter, S.C. – died of gunshot wounds sustained in the “Sunoco Shootout.” Middleton died at the scene, while Rogers was pronounced dead hours later at Prisma Health Tuomey in Sumter.
Epps was wounded in the shooting, as was 22-year-old Christopher Ford of Sumter.
Multiple individuals were slapped with multiple charges in connection with the violence. As for Epps, he was charged with murder and multiple weapons charges.
Sumter police investigators indicated the shooting was initiated – at least in part – by a music video entitled “Boost The Murder Rate.” The video was posted to YouTube two days before the shooting (on September 6, 2019) by a rapper named Tae Blocka and remains on YouTube to this day …
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Epps was originally scheduled to go to trial last month, but the case was continued – and a motion for sanctions against Meadors was heard this week by S.C. circuit court judge R. Kirk Griffin.
Meadors is listed as an “inactive” prosecutor in the case against Epps, which is being tried by the office of S.C. third circuit solicitor Ernest A. Finney III.
Ultimately, Griffin declined to impose sanctions against the state for Meadors’ alleged prosecutorial misconduct at the end of Monday’s hearing – arguing the exculpatory evidence at issue was ultimately made available to Epps’ attorneys prior to the commencement of his trial.
This news outlet reached out to Griffin’s clerk in the hopes of obtaining a written order in the Meadors matter – or clarification as to the ruling of the court. And again, this news outlet has requested a copy of the transcript from Monday’s hearing and will be providing a follow-up report as soon as it is made available.
Still, Meadors is reportedly going to be on the receiving end of a complaint with the secretive South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Council (SCODC) – a division of the supreme court which investigates allegations of misconduct against lawyers. This news outlet has been sharply critical of this secretive entity for years, and is planning on elevating our scrutiny of the complaints it receives in the coming months – including a review of how the Palmetto State handles such complaints compared to other states.
So stay tuned for much more … on multiple fronts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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 (soon to be eight) children.
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