Judge denies request to move trial, separate defendants in Mallory Beach lawsuit
The wrongful death trial of Mallory Beach is set for Aug. 14
HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A Hampton County judge has ruled that Mallory Beach’s wrongful death lawsuit will still be tried in Hampton County and that Parker’s Corporation and Alex Murdaugh will remain codefendants.
Beach was killed in a boat crash in Beaufort County four years ago.
Paul Murdaugh, Alex’s since-murdered youngest son, was charged with driving that boat while under the influence and underage.
Paul, who was 19 at the time, was seen on security camera footage buying alcohol at a Parker’s convenience store the night of the crash.
In a Hampton County courtroom on Friday, Judge Daniel Hall denied both pretrial motions made by Parker’s Corporation, one request to change of venue and one motion to sever defendant Parker from defendant Murdaugh.
Regarding the motion to sever Parker’s from Murdaugh, Parker’s attorney, PK Shere, argued that the claim against Parker’s is relatively simple, compared to the claim against Murdaugh.
He also accused Mark Tinsley, the Beach family attorney, of wanting to tether Parker’s to Murdaugh for financial reasons and to upset the jury.
“Mr. Tinsley fought hard to tether us back to Alex Murdaugh and the Murdaughs for one reason, and that is to infuriate a jury,” Shere said. “And then have Parker’s pay for it.”
Tinsley refuted Shere’s claim and said under the current law there is no justifiable reason to sever the defendants.
Regarding the request to change venues out of Hampton County and the 14th Judicial Circuit in its entirety, Shere argued that holding the trial in Hampton County would affect their right to a fair trial.
Shere said every resident in Hampton County knows the Murdaughs, given the proximity to Alex Murdaugh’s Colleton County Trial earlier this year.
“In this county, we know the Murdaugh name has influence. Everybody’s going to have an opinion one way or the other, whether it’s good or bad.” Shere said.
Tinsley said Shere did not provide enough evidence to show that holding the trial in Hampton County would impede on the defendant’s right to a fair and impartial trial.
“He is asking the court to assume that the people of Hampton County will not follow their oath, will not follow the law, and you simply can’t assume that,” Tinsley said.
The attorney for Alex Murdaugh agreed that the case should stay in Hampton. As for the motion to sever Murdaugh from Parker’s he said “Murdaugh is entitled to have his liability, if any, reduced by the liability of others.”
Also of note, Tinsley asked the court to dismiss the case against Paul Murdaugh’s estate, leaving two remaining defendants, Alex Murdaugh and Parker’s Corporation.
PK Shere’s office provided the following statement regarding the judge’s decision Friday:
The continuing media blitz surrounding the Murdaughs is why Parker’s should be severed from Alex Murdaugh. Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial was one the most ‘reactionary and publicized proceedings in the history of the South Carolina judiciary and legal system.’ Being tethered to a convicted murderer - the most notorious criminal defendant in the last fifty years - leaves Parker’s potentially bearing the brunt of a punitive verdict through joint and several liability. We simply asked for fairness, for Parker’s to be tried separately from a convicted murderer. While we are disappointed in the judge’s ruling today, we look forward to presenting our case at trial next month.
Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.