COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — “This is gotcha prosecution. It’s trial by ambush.” Alex Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian came out swinging against prosecutors at a news conference Wednesday in Columbia.
“This conduct is unprecedented, unprecedented.”
Harpootlian said the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office is dragging its feet when it comes to turning over evidence in the case.
Now he’s filed a motion in state court asking a judge to do something about it.
“Thirty-two days after we made the request we still don’t have anything,” said Harpootlian.
“You went to a grand jury and said you had enough evidence to convict Alex Murdaugh and convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Where is it?”
Q: “What percentage is missing?”
A: “100%. We have zero. nada.”
“I don’t have a shred of paper,” continued Harpootlian. “I don’t have an email. I don’t have an exhibit. I don’t have any evidence.”
Harpootlian said his team has gotten “zero” items that were presented to the grand jury or will be used at Murdaugh’s murder trial.
Nothing that connects Alex Murdaugh to the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul back in June 2021 at the family’s Colleton County property.
Items by law he was supposed to have in hand by now.
“I hear about blood splatter. All I know about blood splatter is what I read about in some blog,” Harpootlian said. “I have never seen any blood splatter evidence. I have never seen any phone downloads, I’ve never seen any witness statements.”
In its response to the defense motion, the SC Attorney General’s office calls this, “a completely blatant attempt to create drama where formerly there was none.”
Prosecutor Creighton Waters continues to say it is, “clearly aimed at generating content for the press conference, rather than actually doing anything meaningful to move forward litigation of the case.”
Prosecutors say they have delivered thousands of pages of discovery materials to the defense already.
The things that are missing are search warrants and affidavits that were sealed early in the investigation before the AG’s Office got involved in the prosecution.
Those must be unsealed by a court order before the State can provide them in discovery.
“We wish to be clear that the Attorney General has every intention that this case is tried in the light of day,” Waters added in his response.
Harpootlian said the warrants are only part of the problem.
“The search warrants are 5%. Ninety-five percent could have been given to us 32 days ago,” said Harpootlian. “There are cell phone data, there is data from the black box in his truck. There is forensics. We have never seen an autopsy. We have never seen an analysis of times of death. We have never seen many of the basic things you would want to see in a murder case.”
The AG’s Office continues in their motion to say there has been a back and forth with the defense but no agreement could be made on many issues, including discovery. They are concerned that pictures or information could get leaked or put into the wrong hands.
Judge Clifton Newman has the motions in hand and could rule on them later this week.
While prosecutors haven’t made a decision public on if they are seeking the death penalty against Murdaugh, Harpootlian said in his experience, without direct witnesses or video evidence, if they did, it would be a mistake.
“This is a circumstantial evidence case as far as we know,” Harpootlian said. “Anyone that would be seeking the death penalty in a circumstantial evidence case would not be knowing what they are doing.”
Harpootlian said despite the delays, his team is working “day and night” to get ready for a trial. Which he wants to happen in Colleton County.
“I want to pick a Colleton County jury,” the attorney said. “I believe we can get a fair jury in Colleton County.”
A case that should happen sooner rather than later.
“We will try this case in January by hell or high water,” said Harpootlian.