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Court documents reveal potential conspiracy to shift blame for deadly boat crash away from Paul Murdaugh

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 4:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 8, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Court documents filed Wednesday revealed new details about the Beaufort County boat crash that led to the death of a teenaged girl in 2019.

Paul Murdaugh was charged for felony boating under the influence in connection with the death of Mallory Beach, but he was murdered before his criminal trial could happen.

A Rule 27 petition now suggests there may have been a potential conspiracy during the initial investigation of the crash to frame one of the other passengers as the boat’s driver.

More than 100 pages were filed by lawyers representing Connor Cook, who was one of the six passengers on the Murdaugh family boat when it crashed into a bridge in 2019.

The attorneys have asked the court to allow them to interview several law enforcement officials involved in the crash investigation and take a look at their cell phone records.

The petition claimed the officers “may have information of collusion and/or a civil conspiracy to shift the blame for the boat accident away from Paul Murdaugh by wrongfully shifting the focus to the Petitioner. The deponents may have information as to a ‘campaign’ to cloud the investigatory issues and disseminate false information in the community with the intention of misleading law enforcement and prosecution charging parties, and the public, into wrongly and falsely believing Connor Cook should be arrested and charged as the boat operator with multiple counts of Felony Boating Under the Influence.”

The court documents included the depositions of five law enforcement officers collected during the course of a separate civil lawsuit filed by Beach’s family.

Those interviews revealed some key evidence may still be missing, like Murdaugh’s cell phone and pants, as well as a potential audio recording of a statement made by one of the other passengers.

Documents said those interviews also point to conflicting reports about if Murdaugh or Cook was at the boat’s helm when it crashed.

The petition claimed the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and others failed to conduct an appropriate investigation.

“Petitioner is informed and believes that certain evidence gathered at the scene and thereafter is now unable to be accounted for by law enforcement authorities and the deponents will be questioned about the failure to conduct an appropriate investigation, including the failure to administer filed exercises to Paul Murdaugh, as well as other investigative irregularities of which Petitioner is informed and believes occurred which coincidentally resulted in the loss of evidence potentially exculpating Petitioner Cook and potentially inculpatory as to Paul Murdaugh,” the petition stated.

Cook’s attorneys are now trying to get more information from a list of officers to potentially file their own civil lawsuit against those law enforcement agencies and others.

“Petitioner believes the information is necessary and appropriate to confirm and clarify facts prior to the filing of a suit for civil conspiracy or other actions against the responsible parties which may include law enforcement agencies, deponents, and/or currently unnamed others,” the petition stated.

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