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Alex Murdaugh wins major legal victory in pursuit of new trial

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Disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh scored a major legal victory Tuesday, sending his case back to the circuit court to review his attorney’s jury tampering allegations, thanks to a South Carolina appeals court.

In a single-paragraph ruling, the South Carolina Court of Appeals stayed Murdaugh’s murder convictions and double life sentence until a lower court hears arguments from his lawyers in favor of a new trial. Murdaugh was convicted in March of killing his wife, Margaret “Maggie” Murdaugh, and their son, Paul Murdaugh, who prosecutors say were fatally shot in June 2021. Murdaugh has maintained he is innocent of the accusations made throughout his trial.

In September, Murdaugh’s defense team requested a new trial, claiming that Colleton County Court Clerk Rebecca Hill had tampered with the jury. The lawyers wrote in a 65-page filing that Hill asked jurors about their opinions of Murdaugh’s case and “asked them not to believe the evidence presented in Mr. Murdaugh’s defense, including his own testimony.” . The defense team also accused Hill of telling a juror “that everything Mr. Murdaugh said was lies.”

Reservation Photo of Richard Alexander Murdaugh
Booking photo of inmate Richard Alexander Murdaugh shared by the South Carolina Department of Corrections at the Kirkland Reception and Assessment Center in Columbia. A South Carolina appeals court sent his case back to the circuit court to review allegations of jury tampering made by his attorney.
South Carolina Department of Corrections

Murdaugh’s attorneys, Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian, told Law&Crime in a statement Tuesday that the appeal decision was “welcome news.”

“We intend to proceed expeditiously and will request a full evidentiary hearing regarding the serious allegations relating to inappropriate jury communications by the Clerk of Court,” the attorneys added. News week has reached out to Murdaugh’s defense team for further comment.

An 11-person jury reached a guilty verdict in the Murdaugh case in less than three hours in March. During the six-week trial, prosecutors argued that the disbarred lawyer killed his wife and son in order to distance himself from his past financial crimes. Murdaugh also said he lied to police about his whereabouts the day his family members were found shot to death.

In September, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to 22 federal counts of financial fraud and money laundering related to allegations that he stole millions of dollars from his personal injury clients. The plea deal could land him years, if not decades, in prison, even if his murder conviction is overturned.

Murdaugh told the judge during his plea deal in September that he wanted to be held accountable for his crimes and to do right by his surviving son, Buster.

“I want to take responsibility. I want my son to see me take responsibility. I hope that by taking responsibility, the people that I have hurt can begin to heal,” Murdaugh said, according to the report. AP.

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