Murdaugh attorneys argue impartial jury won’t be found for financial trial

Published: Nov. 13, 2023 at 12:10 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh on Monday asked the court to change the location or delay the start of his upcoming financial trial for at least a year citing the media frenzy brought on by his six-week murder trial.

Murdaugh’s trial on his more than 100 state financial crimes is currently scheduled for Nov. 27.

Murdaugh’s attorneys argue that publicity from the murder trial will make it difficult to find a fair and impartial jury in Beaufort County or any other courtroom in the circuit.

“Defendant’s trial on the murder charges was broadcast live to multiple media outlets and seen by millions,” attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said. “The trial concluded in March 2023. Since then, there have been two docuseries devoted to the trial, and two movies about the Defendant have been released.”

Court documents state that out of 167 questionnaires returned by the jury panel, 147 panel members admitted to having prior knowledge of Murdaugh’s crimes.

Some of the comments listed in the questionnaire state “My mind is made up on this case!”, “No. Normally I’d say yes, but in this case, given the defendant, I already believe he is guilty” and “I believe he is guilty of killing his wife and son, if that counts...”

“What is the rush to dispose of this case before the end of 2023?” Murdaugh’s attorneys said.

Murdaugh’s attorneys argue they would have difficulty finding jurors in the Upstate “in the present media climate.”

Murdaugh’s attorneys say although every juror’s fixed opinion should not judge impartially,  “However a simple statement from a juror stating he can set aside what he had previously heard and be fair and impartial should not be blindly accepted.”

Murdaugh pleaded guilty to similar federal financial charges Sept. 21.

“The victims will have their day in court at the Defendant’s federal sentencing,” Murdaugh’s attorneys said.

Harpootlian and Griffin previously asked for the federal government to take control of Murdaugh’s assets from the state receivership.

That request was denied in part because some victims of state crimes were not victims of federal crimes.