Lawyers for Alex Murdaugh, who is set to stand trial for the murders of his wife and son in January, have slammed prosecutors for allegedly manipulating testimony and destroying evidence “in bad faith” in the high-profile case that has embroiled one of the most influential families in South Carolina.
In a scathing 96-page motion filed Wednesday in Colleton County criminal court, Murdaugh’s lawyers requested that a state judge prohibit some prosecutorial testimony at the trial set to begin on Jan. 30, alleging that the government “engaged in a campaign of selective and deceptive leaks to news media to convince the public that Murdaugh is guilty before he is tried.”
The allegedly false claim was that Murdaugh’s t-shirt from the night of the June 2021 murders had “a significant amount of high-velocity” blood spatter indicating he was physically close to the crime.
The most damning allegation from Murdaugh’s camp, however, is the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators’ ultimate chemical destruction of Murdaugh’s shirt during testing “may well have happened in bad faith, but it could also be mere gross negligence.”
“The defense is entitled to a pretrial hearing where counsel can question the lab analysts and others who test the shirt under oath to determine why particular tests were performed,” Murdaugh’s lawyers noted.
Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the murders of his 52-year-old wife Maggie and their 22-year-old son Paul. The former lawyer is also facing over 80 charges after allegedly swindling millions from his former clients and law firm—as well as another set of charges for allegedly trying to stage his own murder so his only living son, Buster, could inherit his $10 million life insurance policy.
Authorities say Murdaugh called 911 around 10:07 p.m. the night of the double homicide after he said he discovered his wife and son near the dog kennels located on their 1,770-acre Colleton County estate. In the seven-minute 911 call, Murdaugh is heard telling a dispatcher that his “wife and child have been shot” and not breathing.
“I’ve been up to it now. It’s bad,” Murdaugh said while dogs barked in the background.
The Wednesday motion notes that the murder scene “was gruesome; there was a large amount of blood on and around the bodies which transferred onto Mr. Murdaugh’s hands and clothing when he frantically checked them for signs of life.”
Defense lawyers note the SLED investigators ultimately tested Murdaugh’s shirt for blood—and even cut a piece off during the examination. The report from the cut portion tested the “position for DNA from Maggie but Paul was excluded as a possible DNA contributor.”
But Murdaugh’s defense has not been able to test the shirt themselves because the shirt was destroyed from the testing, turning “completely blue” with stains from the testing solution.
Then, they note, that a local news outlet got ahold of the prosecution’s expert analysis of the evidence from Tom Bevel, a retired Oklahoma City police officer who has a “degree in administration of criminal justice but no academic credentials in any scientific discipline.”
“Neither the defense nor Mr. Bevel have been able to perform any tests on the shirt because the State destroyed it,” the motion says. “Mr. Bevel's first report to the State emphatically said the shirt contained no stains consistent with blood spatter resulting from a gunshot.”
Further, they argue that SLED’s “confirmatory blood testing results were negative for human blood in the areas of the shirt where Mr. Bevel opines blood spatter is present.”
“The bad faith here is not merely the destruction of the shirt. Manifest bad faith occurred in SLED’s dishonest concealment of the destruction when obtaining a false report from Mr. Bevel stating Mr. Murdaugh’s shirt had over a hundred high-velocity impact spatter bloodstains consistent with a gunshot—when SLED knows the shirt does not have any human blood on it at all—based on Mr. Bevel’s purported examination of the shirt… that in fact was already destroyed,” they added.
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