Judge orders state to hand over Murdaugh evidence, grants temporary protective order

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 5:57 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2022 at 4:22 PM EDT
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A Colleton County judge granted motions from the state and the defense concerning evidence in the murder trial of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh Monday.

Judge Clifton Newman ordered the state to hand over evidence for discovery while granting the state’s request for a temporary protective order on the evidence.

“It would be improper for there not to be some restrictions placed,” Newman said.

Newman had previously denied a gag order in early August.

The state’s previous argument that the murders are generating a lot of public attention and the evidence in the case has sensitive information was reiterated by attorney Creighton Waters Wednesday morning.

“This case is unique, it’s unprecedented,” Waters said.

Waters said he doesn’t want the evidence to “fall into the wrong hands” and that the evidence would contain “a ton” of personal information that needs to be protected before the trial.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Alex Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian told reporters on Aug. 17 that the state has yet to hand over any evidence they have in the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son.

In a notably contentious exchange between the two sides, Harpootlian accused the state of leaking evidence.

“I have not leaked a thing,” Waters said.

Waters then shot back that the protective order would not impede the defense in building the case. Waters said the defense had changed their minds at the last minute on the order as was prematurely arguing the case.

“Let’s get through step one,” Waters said.

“This is not a game. This is his life,” Harpootlian shot back.

Harpootlian also claimed the state was acting as if they were “still investigating” the murder case despite Murdaugh being charged in July.

Wednesday was also the first time Murdaugh’s other attorney, Jim Griffin, was heard from in court.

Griffin addressed the state’s concerns regarding crime scene photos at the jail where Murdaugh is housed.

“He doesn’t want to see those,” Griffin said.

Griffin also suggested that Murdaugh, who was once an attorney, might help put together his defense.

In a statement, the attorney general’s office said they would turn over evidence once the order was signed.

“As we have always intended, we will provide discovery as soon as the protective order is signed by Judge Newman,” the statement reads.

Alex Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered his wife and son.