Senator Richard “Dick” Harpootlian is the lead defense attorney for accused killer Alex Murdaugh. Harpootlian attended Clemson University for his undergraduate studies and received his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1974.
Harpootlian began his legal career with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in South Carolina. In 1983, he earned a conviction in the prosecution of Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins—South Carolina’s most notorious serial killer. Gaskins was sentenced to death and later executed. Just weeks prior to his execution, Gaskins attempted to have Harpootlian’s young daughter kidnapped and held hostage. The plot was thwarted by law enforcement when they received a tip from one of those that Gaskins had recruited.
In 1983, Harpootlian went into private practice with the nationally renowned criminal defense lawyer, Jack Swerling. He and Swerling had a partnership of Swerling & Harpootlian until January of 1991.
In 1990, Mr. Harpootlian was elected as Fifth Circuit Solicitor where he served from 1991 until 1995. In 1991, Mr. Harpootlian prosecuted and convicted ex-University of South Carolina President Jim Holderman for public corruption charges arising from the abuse of his office for personal gain.
Harpootlian has been a fixture in South Carolina politics for much of his career. He was a member of the Richland County Council from 1986 to 1991 as well as Chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 1998 to 2003 and again from 2011 to 2013. In 2018 he was elected to the South Carolina State Senate where he currently still serves.
Born January 23, 1949
Graduated from Clemson University (1971)
Attended law school at the University of South Carolina (1974)
Married to Jamie Lindler who is currently the United States Ambassador to Slovenia