September 28, 2023

Saluti Law Medi

Rule it with System

Murdaugh murder defense attorneys to challenge jury verdict

Defense attorney Jim Griffin gives his closing arguments in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The State/Pool

Defense lawyer Jim Griffin presents his closing arguments in Alex Murdaugh’s trial for murder at the Colleton County Courthouse on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Joshua Boucher/The Condition/Pool

[email protected]

If you thought the two-year torrent of sensational news about convicted killer Alex Murdaugh and his notorious accomplices was coming to an end, you may be wrong.

Today, Murdaugh defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin say they plan to file a court challenge to the jury verdict of guilty.

They have released few details.

Murdaugh defense attorney Griffin last week told cable television news anchor Chris Cuomo that the jurors who found Murdaugh guilty of killing his wife, Maggie, and son Paul may have been tampered with.

There are “serious questions as to whether this jury was subject to outside influences during the case,” Griffin told Cuomo on the anchor’s Thursday night News Nation broadcast.

Griffin said he and the defense team have been talking with Murdaugh murder trial jurors.

“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,” Griffin told Cuomo.

Griffin declined to elaborate on his statements.

The S.C. Attorney General’s office has had no comment. Its lawyers generally prefer to keep comments confined to the courtroom.

Murdaugh’s defense team plans a news conference on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 pm on the State House grounds, apparently to discuss the juror matters.

Murdaugh’s six-week double-murder trial, which began in January and finished in March, was perhaps the most notorious criminal trial in South Carolina history. It featured more than 70 witnesses, one of whom was Murdaugh, who took the stand in a fruitless attempt to convince the jury he didn’t kill his wife and son.

The jury gave more weight to other evidence, including a cellphone video taken by Paul minutes before he was killed that had Murdaugh’s voice on it. Murdaugh had denied being anywhere near the death scene in the hours before the killings.

During his testimony, Murdaugh, a disbarred Hampton attorney from a prominent Lowountry legal family, also confessed to numerous financial crimes involving stealing millions of dollars from his law partners, friends, family and clients who had won millions in legal settlements. He is scheduled to plead guilty to his financial crimes on Sept. 21 in federal court.

Murdaugh, 55, is now serving two consecutive life sentences for murder in the S.C. Department of Corrections. He has no chance of parole. Murdaugh contended other people killed his wife and son but never came up with any evidence to support his charges. The death weapons — Maggie was killed with an assault-type rifle and Paul with a shotgun — have never been found.

On the trial’s last day, state Judge Clifton Newman removed a juror and replaced her with an alternate juror.

Newman said the juror he removed had engaged in improper discussions and had, despite court warnings to the jury not to discuss the case, offered her opinion on evidence to other people.

“This juror has had contact or discussion concerning the case with at least three individuals,” Newman told the courtroom.

Newman had started the trial with six alternate jurors and had to replace four others due to health reasons.

Cuomo is the former CNN news host who was fired after allegations he improperly used his news position to help his brother Andrew Cuomo, who was former governor of New York and the subject of various sexual harassment investigations.

This story was at first printed September 2, 2023, 9:20 AM.

John Monk has lined courts, criminal offense, politics, community corruption, the environment and other troubles in the Carolinas for far more than 40 decades. A U.S. Army veteran who lined the 1989 American invasion of Panama, Monk is a previous Washington correspondent for The Charlotte Observer. He has coated numerous dying penalty trials, including all those of the Charleston church killer, Dylann Roof, serial killer Pee Wee Gaskins and boy or girl killer Tim Jones. Monk’s hobbies contain hiking, textbooks, languages, tunes and a whole lot of other matters.