Man charged in fatal Lowcountry boat crash pleads not guilty

Paul Murdaugh appeared in a Beaufort County courtroom Monday morning. (Source: WTOC)
Paul Murdaugh appeared in a Beaufort County courtroom Monday morning. (Source: WTOC)
Published: May. 6, 2019 at 5:55 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - It’s been two months since a former University of South Carolina student was killed following a boat crash near Parris Island.

Monday, a 20-year-old man pleaded not guilty on charges connected to the deadly crash back in February.

According to Attorney General spokesperson Robert Kittle, Paul Murdaugh was indicted on boating under influence causing death, and boating under the influence causing great bodily injury (two counts). Again, he pleaded not guilty to both charges.

A personal recognizance bond was set at $50,000. Murdaugh cannot leave territory in the 14th Judicial Circuit and he has forfeited his passport.

“We just wanted to accommodate any concerns the AG’s Office had. He’s not leaving the state, he’s not going to leave the country, so he waived extradition. Those are normal conditions, so we did exactly what’s normal. This is being handled in a very normal fashion," said Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian.

What’s abnormal in this particular case has been the fact that one of the responding agencies the night of the crash, the Beaufort County Sheriffs Office, and the head of the 14th Judicial Circuit have recused themselves because of close ties to the Murdaugh family. Paul Murdaugh’s attorney explained what’s next with the arraignment and bond hearing behind them.

“We’re looking forward to getting information, what’s called discovery, and getting ready for trial and going to trial. He’s plead not guilty and we assume and believe a jury will follow his plea of not guilty," he said.

A trial date has not been set.

Murdaugh was one of multiple people on the boat at the time. According to the official report from that night by the Port Royal Police Department, all of the underage people, who were all between 19 and 20 years old, were “grossly intoxicated that evening.”

Mallory Beach was initially reported missing after the accident, leading to a massive, multi-agency search led by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Beach’s body was discovered a week later near Broad River Landing in Beaufort.

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