Lawyer for Alex Murdaugh calls prosecution, ‘trial by ambush’, AG office responds

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Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The lawyer for Alex Murdaugh spoke Wednesday morning about an update on his client’s murder trial.


Dick Harpootlian said, “ I don’t have a shred of paper.” Harpootlian explained that he has yet to receive evidence from the prosecutor’s office 32 days after requesting it. He said under state law they’re required to provide the evidence at maximum 30 days after a request.

Harpootlian said he’s asking the courts to order the State of South Carolina to comply with obligations to provide discovery material.

He commented on the lack of gag order in the case, “If those are the rules, we’re going to play by the rules.”

He said, “This conduct is unprecedented. They’re hiding the ball.” He called it a, “trial by ambush.”

He explained that the trial is planned for January and a slow turn over of evidence makes it difficult for Murdaugh’s defense to investigate and speak with experts. “We will try this case in January come hell or high water,” Harpootlian said.

WIS reached out to the Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office for comment on Wednesday morning’s conference.

WIlson’s office said in a statement,It is categorically false that the Attorney General’s Office leaked any information in the Murdaugh murder case. We’ve been in communication with SLED and they deny that they told anyone that our office leaked anything.”

Wilson also called today’s conference, “…a not unexpected but completely blatant attempt to create drama where formerly there was none.”

The motion filed in opposition to Murdaugh’s team says the defense did not send emails, but instead,

“just snail mailed them, perhaps to prevent the State from correcting the mischaracterizations in the record prior to their press conference today.”

Wilson’s office said both sides had previously discussed a standard protective order and that the State has provided thousands of pages of documents for discovery to the defense. Wilson’s office described the process as “agreeable” to both parties during Murdaugh’s bond hearing and their later phone conversations.

On Friday, Aug. 12, at 4:02 p.m. emails were sent by the State of a draft protective order and order unsealing search warrants to the defense. Wilson’s office said this was done to give them a chance to make edits and provide feedback, “as is appropriate and courteous practice for a jointly created document.”

Wilson’s office said they received feedback Friday at 5:00 p.m. with edits from Murdaugh’s team with no opposition. They said by 5:15 p.m. Murdaugh’s team had changed their positions, which followed multiple emails back and forth between the two parties.

Wilson’s office said any search warrants needed for discovery needed to be unsealed by order of a judge’s signature,

“We wish to be clear that the Attorney General has every intention that this case be tried in the light of day, and none of this meant to preclude appropriate public observation of the process.”

Murdaugh’s team followed up by Monday at 5:57 p.m. Wilson’s office called the delays an , “after hours on a Friday” change of heart.”

We have embedded the full motion filed in opposition to the motion to compel.

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