Attorneys file notice of appeal in Alex Murdaugh conviction, sentence

Attorneys representing convicted killer Alex Murdaugh have filed the first step to appeal his conviction for the murders of his wife and son, documents state.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 5:25 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2023 at 11:52 PM EST
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COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys representing convicted killer Alex Murdaugh have filed the first step to appeal his conviction for the murders of his wife and son, court documents state.

Attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed a notice of appeal with the South Carolina Court of Appeals Thursday afternoon.

The document states they will seek to appeal Murdaugh’s convictions in the June 7, 2021, killings of his wife, Maggie; and their youngest son, Paul; as well as the two life sentences handed down by Judge Clifton Newman.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

The jury convicted Murdaugh of the double murder after just under three hours of deliberations on March 3 after a six-week trial in Walterboro.

Harpootlian and Griffin told reporters on Friday they planned to file a notice of intention to appeal within 10 days. They must wait to receive a transcript of the trial, which they said “will take a while.” At that point, they plan to file the appeal.

Both said they believe all of the financial crimes Newman allowed in as evidence should not have been heard by the jury.

“Once they got that character information in that he’s a thief, he’s a liar, then it dictated this jury had to think he was a despicable human being and not to be believed. So it was about character, it wasn’t about motive. So as a result, our options were limited,” Harpootlian said. “Look, they won this case the day the judge bought into letting them put every piece of, you know, stealing from kids who lost their mother, from somebody with pancreatic cancer, somebody that’s a paraplegic. I mean, all of that two and a half weeks, by the time they got done with it, it didn’t matter about final argument. It didn’t matter about what we put up. He was, they would never ever, ever acquit him after that.”

Harpootlian said they debated about whether Murdaugh should take the stand in his own defense.

“He always wanted to take the stand,” Harpootlian said. “But once that information was in, I mean, if he had to take the stand to explain the kennel video, the lie, if you will, all of his credibility had been stripped away by the financial misdeeds.”

Newman sentenced Murdaugh to two consecutive life sentences for the murders.

Newman asked Murdaugh if he had anything he wanted to say before the sentencing.

“As I tell you again, I respect this court. But I am innocent. I would never under any circumstances hurt my wife Maggie and I would never under any circumstances hurt my son Paul-Paul,” Murdaugh said.

“And it might not have been you. It might have been the monster you become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills. Maybe you become another person,” Newman replied, noting Murdaugh’s decadeslong addiction to painkillers.

Prosecutors asked for a life sentence to hold Murdaugh responsible for what they say are decades of lying, stealing and using his family’s considerable clout in their tiny county to his advantage.

The sentence carries no chance of parole.