CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Alex Murdaugh is hoping to temporarily halt upcoming proceedings and has even asked for a venue change in his financial crimes trial as he faces nearing court dates.
Murdaugh was once a prominent South Carolina attorney whose reputation was marred after he was accused of a slew of financial crimes and was found guilty of murdering his wife Maggie and youngest son Paul following a lengthy trial earlier this year.
In a November 1, 2023, filing with the South Carolina Supreme Court, Murdaugh, and his defense team requested to stay all trial court proceedings to which he is party, and those in which Judge Clifton Newman is the presiding judge.
Judge Newman was set to oversee a criminal trial in Beaufort County on Nov. 27, and Murdaugh’s team was awaiting a hearing date for Murdaugh’s recent motion for a new trial over allegations of jury tampering.
Murdaugh’s defense team filed another motion Monday morning asking for a change of venue in Beaufort County due to the amount of publicity and widespread media coverage the former attorney has received since the June 2021 murders of his wife and son.
The motion questions if the jury would already be swayed in their decision-making based on prior coverage and his portrayal in the media.
His defense team noted that there have been two docuseries related to the trial and two movies about Murdaugh in the months since the double murder trial wrapped up in March.
According to the filing, Murdaugh’s team said the jury panel was provided with a questionnaire to complete which includes questions about their knowledge of Murdaugh or the case.
“Not surprising, there have been 167 questionnaires returned thus far, and at least 147 panel members admitted having prior knowledge about Murdaugh and his criminal charges,” Murdaugh’s defense team stated in the document.
The defense team says South Carolina Code of Laws 17-21-80 authorizes the circuit courts to order a change of venue to another county within the same circuit if pre-trial publicity would deprive a defendant of a fair and impartial jury.
“The better course of action is to simply continue this case, and the other financial fraud cases, until at least one year after the conclusion of the murder trial,” defense attorneys said in their filing.