BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) – Who’s responsible for Mallory Beach’s death?
The question remains unanswered more than a year after the Lowcountry teen was killed in a boat crash.
Civil and criminal trials are still on the horizon which will include testimony that should shed more light on what happened that night as well as all the people whose mistakes led to the teen’s death.
We do know in February 2019, Beach was on a boat with friends, more teens. On a boat driven by Paul Murdaugh, who along with everyone else on the boat was determined to be “grossly intoxicated” according to the Port Royal Police report.
That boat hit a pylon in the water, tossing Beach out. Her body wasn’t found until a week later.
Paul Murdaugh is facing two criminal charges, Boating under the influence involving bodily harm and death. His criminal trial is still pending. There is no hearing scheduled at this time.
The14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, as well as two different judges, have all asked to be recused from this case. The Office of S.C. Attorney General is now leading the prosecution of the case.
Renee Beach, Mallory Beach’s mother has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit in a Hampton County court. She has named Richard Alexander Murdaugh and Richard Alexander Murdaugh Jr in that suit as well as the Parker’s Corporation.
The claim is that Paul Murdaugh, who is underage, used his older brother’s identification to buy alcohol from the Parker’s in Ridgeland.
Now Affidavits from that case, as first reported in the Island Packet, could give insight into the case, that day, and how Beach’s lawyers plan to prove negligence.
The defendants in the case have asked to move it from Hampton County to Beaufort County to make it easier for some of the witnesses it wants to call to attend.
Now Beach’s lawyers have fired back with statements and witnesses of their own.
An affidavit written by Ashton Taylor details the known issues at the Parker’s store. “Parkers was known among underage kids to be an alcohol retail establishment that does not properly check or even look at the identification fo the person purchasing it.”
She added, “The store employees would merely scan the identification presented without looking at it to verify whether the identification belonged to the person presenting it.”
Taylor is admitting she was once one of those kids. “I will further testify that I made purchases using my stepmother’s identification or that of my 30-year-old cousin and that neither identification resembled me and never was I denied or refused from purchasing alcohol due to the identification not belonging to me.”
Shane Patterson, who was in line behind Murdaugh that day, said he will testify that “the young man did not appear to me to be old enough to purchase alcohol.”
As for the cashier’s response that day, Patterson adds “The cashier appeared to have glanced at his license, but she did not take the time to check the physical characteristics or question him.”
“The young man was obviously with another young man, who was in the parking lot,” continued Patterson. “it was obvious to me that the young man was going to share the alcohol with his friend in the parking lot.”
The lawsuit accuses the store of multiple failings that day. The name of the credit card didn’t match the name on the ID.
Since Murdaugh was spending more than $45, the cashier was supposed to ask for ID then write VPI – for verified personal information on the bill. Which she did, even though they did not match, according to the suit.
It continues to say that the store manager had warned this cashier about using a cell phone while working. But it claims the surveillance video shows her looking at her phone, apparently checking social media during the transaction with Paul Murdaugh.
There will also apparently be testimony that Parker’s illegally sold to another minor involved in the crash before selling to Murdaugh.
Parkers’ has responded in part with the statement that the store has had “no citations for store 55 in the past 5 years.”
Parker’s Corporation, a convenience store company, as well as five different witnesses in the civil trial, have asked to move proceedings to make it easier for everyone to attend.
One witness said the current location would be a “hardship” because of his schedule.
As for the idea of moving the case out of Hampton County, the Beach family responded with a powerful no.
In her affidavit, Renee Beach says the ride to Beaufort County “would be nearly unbearable” due to what the family is going through at this time and the “extreme emotional stress” since Mallory’s death.
Phillip Beach, Mallory’s father says “It will be incredibly difficult for me to drive back and forth to Beaufort for trial. I try to avoid going to Beaufort because of the extreme emotional distress this causes me to go there.”
Robin Beach, Phillip’s wife added in her affidavit “He (Phillip) tries to find comfort in going to the woods and places where he enjoyed spending time with Mallory.”
“Often time when he is having a particularly hard times he feels compelled to go to the cemetery to “visit” with Mallory,” Robin Beach continued.
Savannah Tuten, Mallory’s older sister said in her statement she does not want to travel to Beaufort County, calling it “nearly unbearable to make the drive” because of the “emotional stress since the sudden and tragic loss of Mallory. And it’s been “difficult to live with her loss.”
The case still could be kept out of court entirely.
Mediation is planned for April 6 between the Beach family and Murdaugh family and Parkers.