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Alex Murdaugh appeared for a hearing Monday that devolved into a shouting match between defense and state prosecutors over the estimated $1 million worth of murder evidence allegedly tying the disgraced attorney and legal scion to the June 2021 double homicide of his wife and 22-year-old son.
Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, and deputy state attorney general Creighton Waters exchanged several fiery wars of words during the hearing at the Colleton County Courthouse, as Murdaugh sat stone-faced while listening.
At one point, Harpootlian accused prosecution of trying to “hijack” the hearing and withhold evidence.
“I don’t trust the state to honor the rules! They haven’t so far at this point,” Harpootlian said. “I’m sorry if I’m being upset but every time we turn around they’re trying to hide something.”
Meanwhile, Waters pleaded for a gag order to prevent some of the more sensitive evidence from being released to the public amid high pre-trial publicity, estimating that the material linking Murdaugh to the murders of his wife and son following a tight-lipped 13-month investigation is “probably worth over a million dollars.”
“I don’t play fast and loose!” Waters yelled at one point, also denying allegations that the prosecution leaked any murder evidence details to the press.
He said the Murdaugh’s long spiraling fall from grace is “unprecedented” for South Carolina being that it involves violent crime and corruption on a scale “never seen before.” In asking for the protective order, Waters remarked, “If not this case, what case?”
“The court has an independent responsibility and an obligation to avoid the creation of a carnival-type atmosphere in a case of this nature and I will do all I can to limit that,” Judge Clifton Newman responded at one point. “But in this case we have gone from the parties seeking agreement in a gag order a few weeks ago to being at extreme odds at this point, claiming there is a violation of rules.”
Newman granted the prosecution’s request for a gag order, but ordered that search warrants be unsealed and handled over as discovery to the defense.
Bare-bones indictments say Murdaugh, who dialed 911 himself to report the murders, fatally shot both wife Maggie and son Paul.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty.