Lawyers for Alex Murdaugh are accusing prosecutors of allegedly hiding evidence – including blood splatters and phone records – and leaking information about the South Carolina family murders to the press ahead of Murdaugh’s looming trial.
Murdaugh, 54, was indicted in July on murder charges in the deaths of his wife Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, who were killed on June 7, 2021, at the family’s home. He has adamantly denied killing them.
‘It’s trial by ambush,’ attorney Dick Harpootlian said in a press conference on Wednesday. ‘Give us the stuff. I don’t have a shred of paper. I don’t have an email. I don’t have an exhibit. I don’t have any evidence.’
The disbarred South Carolina lawyer’s trial for the double murders is not set to happen until next year, but courtroom drama is already in full swing.
Murdaugh’s legal team blasted prosecutors this week of leaking details to the media instead of handing it over to the defense as required. They also claim they have never received any reports on blood splatter or evidence found on phones.
Alex Murdaugh is escorted out of the Colleton County Courthouse in Walterboro, S.C., on July 20, 2022. His lawyers are now accusing prosecutors of hiding evidence and leaking information about the murders of his wife and son to the press
Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were found dead at the family home on June 7, 2021. Alex Murdaugh called 911 claiming he found them there, shot dead
‘We’re ready to work. Ready to hire investigators, ready to hire experts,’ he said. ‘All I know is what I read in some blog. I’ve never seen any blood spatter evidence.
‘I’ve never seen any phone downloads. I’ve never seen any witness statements. Thirty-two days after we make the request, we still don’t have anything.’
If convicted of murder, Murdaugh would face 30 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors could also choose to seek the death penalty under state law because more than one person was killed, but haven’t made any indication that’s what they might do.
The defense has filed a motion asking the judge to compel the state to turn over the evidence immediately and to unseal the details of the grand jury indictment.
In a response filing, the state calls the motion a ‘blatant attempt to create drama where formerly there was none, saying the state has no desire to preclude the defense from any discovery, and they will send it over when the court green lights it.’
‘This manufactured drama is just a well-known part of defense counsel’s playbook,’ the state Attorney General’s Office responded to the defense in legal papers.
The defense said it is waiting for the evidence so it can hire experts to review GPS data that authorities might say linked Murdaugh to the shooting scene or physical evidence like blood and DNA that investigators might say show he fired one of the two guns they said were used in the killings.
‘There’s the cellphone data,’ Harpootlian said. ‘There’s the data from the black box in his truck. There’s forensics. We’re never seen an autopsy or an analysis of the time of death.’
Authorities said they want to protect autopsy or crime scene photos from becoming public and other evidence being revealed before the trial.
Neither prosecutors nor state investigators have leaked information in the case, state Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a statement.
The June 2021 deaths prompted authorities to look into all corners of Murdaugh’s life. At least a half-dozen investigations resulted in charges that he stole $8.5 million from people who hired him and that he lied to police by saying he was shot by a stranger on a roadside.
Disgraced South Carolina legal heir Alex Murdaugh (left) lured his wife, Maggie Murdaugh (right), to their family home before she and their son, Paul, were executed last summer
Police sources claim Murdaugh (center) told Maggie his father’s health had declined and she needed to see him before he died. Maggie (right) thought his behavior was ‘fishy’ and that he was ‘up to something.’ Alex and Maggie are pictured with their son, Paul (left)
Officials say he actually asked a friend to kill him so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy just days after the family firm determined he was stealing money. The friend said the gun went off as he tried to wrestle it from a suicidal Murdaugh’s grip.
Murdaugh is familiar with legal wrangling. His family has dominated the legal scene in tiny, neighboring Hampton County for nearly a century with his father, grandfather and great-grandfather the area’s elected prosecutors for 87 years straight.
Defense attorneys want to take Murdaugh to trial as soon as possible to clear his name. Both sides appear to have agreed on January, with Harpootlian saying at the news conference outside his law office that he wants to stick to that timetable ‘come hell or high water’ and will have lawyers and the rest of his firm doing whatever is necessary to review the evidence whether it is five pages or 5 million pages.’
Authorities say Murdaugh shot Maggie, 52, with a rifle, and Paul, 22, with a shotgun at their Moselle property in June 2021. A motive for the slayings has yet to be determined.
Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22, were found dead on the grounds of the family home on June 7, 2021. Maggie was killed with an assault rifle, whereas Paul had been killed with a shotgun
The shocking murders on the family’s grounds were the beginning of a twisted web of murder and crime. Above, the grounds on June 8, the day after Maggie and Paul were found dead
It is not known how police linked Murdaugh to the deaths after more than a year of investigation, but a law enforcement source with close knowledge of the case told People police have a multitude of damning evidence against the ex attorney.
The source told the outlet back in July that investigators had proved that Murdaugh was at the house when the murder took place due to blood spatter allegedly found on the then-lawyer’s clothes after cops arrived on the scene.
The evidence, if legitimate, contradicts claims from Murdaugh that he had been visiting his father at a nearby hospital at the time of the murder, returning to find their bodies.
The source also said that Murdaugh’s cell phone, watch, and vehicle GPS also contradict those claims, People reported.
The outlet also added that investigators are adamant that Murdaugh lured his wife to the scene, under the guise he wanted her to accompany with her to visit his ailing father, with whom she was close.
The sources said that the couple – who had been influential figures in the South Carolina legal scene -had hit a rough patch in their marriage prior to the killings, and that Maggie at the time was staying at the family’s beach house on Edisto Island, roughly an hour away from the family’s estate.
The insider reportedly told People that Maggie at first declined requests from Murdaugh to meet at the family home, suggesting instead they meet at the hospital. After some convincing, however, she consented to meet at the home, saying she would follow Alex to the hospital in her car.
Murdaugh, 54, was filmed briefly leaving jail for a bond hearing in July over the two first-degree murder charges – more than a year after the bodies of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh on the family’s sprawling hunting estate in Colleton County
The once prominent lawyer was pictured leaving the Colleton County Courthouse in chains in July – after being indicted on two counts of murder for the killing
On her way to the home, Maggie allegedly messaged a friend to tell her she felt uneasy about the arrangement, and that she was worried that Murdaugh was ‘up to something.’
The texts, People reported, saw Maggie theorize that something about her husband’s behavior felt ‘fishy,’ with one of the messages flat-out declaring: ‘He’s up to something.’ The identity of the recipient of those texts was not identified at the July hearing.
However, the most damning piece of evidence in lawmen’s possession, allegedly, is cell phone audio and video that the source said places Murdaugh at the crime scene ‘moments’ before the murder, talking with Maggie just before she was killed.
Murdaugh – who reportedly struggled with a debilitating opioid addiction in the months building up to the murder – was officially charged with their murders in July. The one-time legal scion was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.
It took police roughly 13 months to level charges against Murdaugh- who is already behind bars on separate charges relating to fraud and embezzlement charges relating to the money he stole from his law firm and a failed attempt to stage his own murder as part of a $10million life insurance scam for his son in September.
Mere months after his wife and son were murdered, Murdaugh tried to stage his own death so that Buster, his 26-year-old surviving son, could reap the sum, but was criminally charged when the suicide-for-hire plot fell apart after the attempt failed and his hired hit man was arrested.
The incident, which transpired on September 4, 2021, was Murdaugh being shot three times by 61-year-old Curtis Smith – one of his former clients – however, according to police, he only suffered a ‘superficial gunshot wound to the head.’
The unsolved case took a twist last September when Murdaugh claimed he had been shot in the head in a drive by shooting on this rural South Carolina road
It would later emerge that Murdaugh had hired Curtis Smith (left) as a hit man to kill him as part of a staged murder plot that would allow his surviving son Buster to collect $10million in life insurance money
Smith has since been charged with assisted suicide, aggravated assault, and battery related to the shooting. He is awaiting trial on those charges.
Murdaugh, meanwhile, was charged with conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and jailed the following month. His trial is also pending.
Murdaugh, whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were also top prosecutors South Carolina for nearly a century, ‘believed ending his life was his only option,’ his lawyers said at the time, citing his spiraling opioid addiction, which they said evaporated the blue blooded jurist’s net worth over the course of 20 years.
Murdaugh told police he ‘found’ the bodies of his youngest son and wife outside a series dog kennels on the family’s 1,700 square feet hunting estate around 10pm on June 7, 2021.
According to several sources, Paul’s body was found partially inside one of these dog kennels outside the family’s Hampton home, while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down
Pictured: A gated entrance to the Murdaugh hunting lodge. The disgraced attorney had originally told investigators that he was visiting his dying father and his mother about 11 miles away at their home in Varnville at the time of the murders
In audio of the 911 call that he placed at 10:07pm that night, Murdaugh can be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech: ‘I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and child were just shot badly.’
Paul, 22, was shot twice with a shotgun – once in the head and once in the chest. Maggie had been shot multiple times with an assault rifle. Their gunshot wounds were believed to be consistent with ‘execution-style’ killings, reports said.
According to several sources, Paul’s body was found partially inside one of the kennels, while his mother’s was several feet away, leading investigators to believe that she ran from her killer before being gunned down.
At least two of her gunshot wounds were believed to have been inflicted while she was on the ground.
In the immediate aftermath of the discoveries, Murdaugh’s family and attorneys vehemently defended the lawyer, who they asserted had a ‘ironclad alibi’ and that his marriage with Maggie was ‘full of love.’
However, Murdaugh’s ‘alibi’ was far from airtight, and has changed significantly since his initial claims that he was nowhere near the property between 9 and 9:30pm – the time the coroner gave the approximate time of death.
Murdaugh told investigators that he was visiting his dying father and his mother about 11 miles away at their home in Varnville at the time of the murders.
The double murder sparked the beginning of the end for the prominent legal family
The Murdaugh family’s sprawling South Carolina property, where his wife and son were killed, was listed for sale in March. The massive Colleton County property is known as Cross Swamp Farm and houses two buildings, two waterfowl reservoirs, and has over 2.5 miles of river frontage that can be used for kayaking and fishing
Two weeks later, his brothers John Marvin and Randy Murdaugh told Good Morning America that he had in fact dropped his father at a hospital in Savannah before going to visit his mother, who has dementia.
According to an account given by Murdaugh’s lawyer Jim Griffin to The State newspaper, Murdaugh claims to have left the property around 9pm to make the 20-minute drive to his mother’s house and returned to Moselle as originally claimed around or shortly after 10pm.
It is an account that places him squarely on the scene within the timeframe of the killings.
It has been speculated that audio and video data gleaned from Paul’s cellphone found by his body, but only recently unlocked by law enforcement, is what prompted Murdaugh’s dramatic change of tune.
Independent local news website FITSNews has reported that not only does this audio and video data show Murdaugh speaking with Maggie, but that ‘high velocity impact spatter’ of blood found on his clothing that night places him at the scene of the murders when at least one of the victims was killed.
At the same time, Murdaugh was under extreme pressure to cough up his financial records as part of a wrongful death suit being brought against him and his older son, Richard ‘Buster’ Murdaugh, Jr, by the family of Mallory Beach – the teenager killed in an horrific boat crash in 2019.
Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens – all underage, all drinking heavily – aboard.
Beach, 19, was thrown from the vessel and her body found by two fishermen one week later, five miles from the site. Her cause of death was blunt force trauma and drowning.
At the time of Paul’s death, the Murdaughs were facing a wrongful death lawsuit by the family of Mallory Beach, 19, (right)– who was killed in an horrific boat crash in 2019. Paul was drunk and at the wheel of the boat when it slammed into pilings on Archers Creek with six teens – all underage, all drinking heavily
The family has also been mixed up in other deaths, including Stephen Smith (left), who was found dead on the side of the road in 2015. Case notes revealed Buster had been mentioned in the investigation and Smith’s mother said they had a ‘fling.’ Mallory Beach (right) also died on one of the Murdaugh’s properties during a boat accident, where Paul was behind the wheel
Legal documents seen by DailyMail.com show that lawyers for Beach’s family had repeatedly pressed Murdaugh for financial disclosure and set a court deadline of June 9 – just two days after Maggie and Paul’s murders – for him to hand over all relevant paperwork.
Back then, only Murdaugh knew that he was neck-deep in debts and, what prosecutors allege, was a multi-million-dollar insurance fraud scheme and criminal enterprise.
In the months following, investigators looking into Maggie and Paul’s deaths uncovered a litany of crime and insurance fraud that have seen them reopen two suspicious deaths linked to the family – former housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, 56, who fell after a ‘trip and fall’ at Moselle in 2018 and local teen, Stephen Smith, 19.
Satterfield’s sons said they were defrauded out of a $4.3million wrongful death suit brought against Murdaugh on his own advice and with the promise that they would be taken care of.
Instead, Murdaugh syphoned off the funds for himself, allegedly with the help of Corey Fleming, a former USC roommate and fellow attorney whom he recommended the Satterfield brothers use.
Fleming has also been charged for his part in the scheme.
SLED later announced that it has received permission from Satterfield’s family to have her body exhumed.
Hampton County Coroner, Angie Topper, asked investigators to look at Satterfield’s death again due to ‘inconsistencies.’
These included the fact that her office was never informed, meaning no autopsy was conducted, and that the manner of death given on the death certificate – ‘natural’ – was not consistent with a trip and fall.
In audio of the 911 call, Alex Murdaugh, pictured with Maggie, Paul and surviving son Buster (far left) can be heard telling the dispatcher in a high-pitched screech: ‘I need the police and an ambulance immediately. My wife and child were just shot badly’
Buster, Alex Murdaugh’s surviving son, was exclusively photographed by DailyMail.com as the legal dynasty began to unravel last year. He said he’d been touch with his father but would not give any further comment
Buster Murdaugh being comforted at the funeral for his mother and brother on June 11, 2021
Similarly, the manner of Smith’s death is once again the subject of investigation. The 19-year-old’s body was found on a road in Hampton County in July 2015 with a head wound so devastating that investigators first thought he had been shot.
DailyMail.com revealed that the incident was in fact initially investigated as a homicide but recategorized as a hit and run in the face of strong opposition from the lead investigator who was one of the first officers on the scene and found no evidence of any vehicular involvement.
In addition to this, 15 state grand jury indictments containing 79 charges have come down against Murdaugh with prosecutors claiming he defrauded a staggering $8.4million from victims.
The truly dire state of his financial affairs may go some way to explaining one of the most bizarre twists in this entire saga – Murdaugh’s failed ‘suicide-for-hire’ plot just three months after Maggie and Paul’s deaths, and one day after he resigned from the family’s Hampton-based law firm.
The firm, formerly known as Parker, Murdaugh, Parker, Elztroth & Detrick, or PMPED, stripped the Murdaugh name from their masthead in January and has since rebranded as the Parker Law Group.
The firm later claimed that Murdaugh misappropriated company funds and at least one of Murdaugh’s former colleagues is among the many bringing suits against him.
Then on September 4 last year, Murdaugh made his second frantic 911 call, this time to report that he had been shot while attempting to change a tire by the side of the road not far from Moselle.
From the start the story seemed odd, his injuries unconvincing and his description of the man so vague and contradictory that SLED chose not to release the artist’s impression that Murdaugh helped generate.
Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, left, died after a fall in the family home in 2018. Mallory Beach, 19, was killed in an accident on a boat Paul Murdaugh was driving
Within two weeks, the whole affair had unraveled with Murdaugh claiming that he had hired a friend and distant relative Curtis ‘Eddie’ Smith, 61, to shoot him in the head so that his surviving son, Buster, could receive a $10million pay out form his life insurance.
He claimed that he had been in the throes of opioid addiction and had been for more than two decades and checked himself into rehab in Florida.
He was charged with insurance fraud and false reporting while Smith was charged on several counts including conspiracy.
Smith has since been slapped with other charges relating to his relationship to Murdaugh, financial wrongdoing and drug trafficking.
Murdaugh is currently being held in Alvin S Glenn detention center in Richland County on a $7million bond.
TIMELINE OF MURDAUGH FAMILY MURDERS, DEATHS, LAWSUITS AND ARRESTS
Cops investigating the double murder have also reopened the case into a 2015 hit-and-run of teen Stephen Smith
Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Sattlerfield dies
Mallory Beach, 19, died in February 2019
2015: Teenager Stephen Smith dies
Smith was found on the side of the road.
Police officially rule his death a hit-and-run but he had suffered blunt force trauma to the head
His mother has since shared her belief that she thinks he was killed in a hate-crime because he was gay
Case notes obtained by DailyMail.com revealed Paul’s older brother Buster was named multiple times in the investigation.
Police wanted to know more about his relationship with Stephen
Stephen’s mother said he had been having a ‘fling’.
In a deposition years later, one of Paul’s friends said the family had ‘covered’ other killings up.
He mentioned Smith’s death.
2018: Murdaugh family housekeeper Gloria Satterfield dies
Gloria died after ‘falling’ down the stairs in the family house
The family gave her family $500.000 in a wrongful death settlement but it’s unclear why her death was ruled to be their fault.
Alex Murdaugh was listed as the defendant in the lawsuit.
Satterfield was only 57 when she died.
She left behind a husband and children.
Her death was also mentioned in the deposition by Paul Murdaugh’s friend.
2019: Mallory Beach dies being thrown from boat driven by Paul Murdaugh
Paul was charged afterwards because he’d been drinking and was behaving ‘belligerently’ that night.
He had been released on bond.
Other kids were on the boat but were unharmed.
One testified that they were scared to speak about the Murdaugh family because they knew how to ‘cover things up’.
That boy named Stephen Smith and the housekeeper, and claimed Paul pushed her
June 7 2021: Paul and Maggie are murdered
The mom and son were found shot dead at the family home in Hampton, South Carolina.
Alex Murdaugh says he found them at the home.
The medical examiner said the pair had been dead for an hour at most when he discovered them.
Alex’s son Paul, 22, (left) and wife Maggie, 52, (right) were found dead from multiple gunshot wounds on June 7 at the family hunting lodge
Alex’s father Randolph Murdaugh III died ‘peacefully’ at home three days after Maggie and Paul were found shot dead
June 10 2021: Alex’s 81-year-old father Randolph Murdaugh III dies ‘naturally’ and ‘peacefully’ at home
September 3: Alex resigns from his law firm amid claims he misused funds
The firm has hired a forensic investigator to go through the accounts
September 4: Alex calls 911 claiming he’s been shot in the head in a drive-by.
He only had ‘surface’ wounds and was also able to call his brother
September 6: Alex releases a statement confirming his resignation from the firm and announcing he has entered rehab
Says ‘I’m resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been exacerbated these murders.’