COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh pleaded not guilty in a Colleton County courtroom on Wednesday morning nearly a week after being indicted in the killings of his wife and son.
Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, called for three motions while in court Wednesday. First, he asked that no facts in the state’s evidence be shared in court during Wednesday’s bond hearing to prevent a jury pool from being swayed. In a second motion, he asked that all motions moving forward be sealed to keep them out of the public eye. Third, he again called for a speedy trial.
It likely comes after news that murder charges were likely against Murdaugh in the deaths of his wife and son were leaked to the media ahead of a July 14 hearing with a Colleton County Grand Jury.
Attorneys for Murdaugh stood firm that the former attorney had nothing to do with the murders of Margaret and Paul and called for a speedy trial because he believes the killer of his wife and son was still at large.
“We would like to go ahead and get this matter before a Colleton County jury, as quickly as possible. Mr. Murdaugh does this for a number of reasons: one, he believes he’s innocent and two he believes that the killer or killers are still at large and this would allow SLED to put this behind them and look for the real killers,” said Harpootlian.
Murdaugh entered the courtroom looking noticeably different from previous court appearances; his head was shaved and was not wearing a jumpsuit. He sat motionless and quiet in the courtroom during the hearing.
The defense wants that speedy trial to happen in either October or November; however, the state said January would be aggressive but more appropriate.
Judge Newman ultimately denied bond for Murdaugh. He will be booked in the Colleton County Detention Center before being taken back to a Columbia-area jail where he was being housed on un-related charges for stealing money from clients.
Judge Newman said he will issue a written decision on the three other motions in the coming days.
The indictment was handed down by a Grand Jury in Colleton County last Thursday, charging the former attorney with two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime in connection with the deaths of his wife Margaret (52) and youngest son Paul (22), at their family property in June 2021.
“Over the last 13 months, SLED agents and our partners have worked day in and day out to build a case against the person responsible for the murders of Maggie and Paul and to exclude those who were not,” said South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel after the charges were announced. “At no point did agents lose focus on this investigation. From the beginning I have been clear, the priority was to ensure justice was served. Today is one more step in a long process for justice for Maggie and Paul.”
Investigators say Alex shot Margaret and Paul using a shotgun and rifle, according to indictments from SLED. It is unclear what additional evidence led them to make their decision.
Shortly after the charges were announced, Murdaugh’s attorneys – Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – released a statement saying they planned to immediately file a motion for a speedy trial, and request that Attorney General Alan Wilson turn over all evidence within 30 days, as required by law.
“It was very clear from day one that law enforcement and the Attorney General prematurely concluded that Alex was responsible for the murder of his wife and son. But we know that Alex did not have any motive whatsoever to murder them,” Murdaugh’s attorneys said.
A date has not been set for trial.