Unredacted footage from Murdaugh trial released to Netflix by mistake
COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A misunderstanding led to the release of unredacted body camera footage from the murder scene at Moselle, according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office and the Colleton County clerk’s office.
The mishap was revealed during a hearing in Columbia on Friday to formally seal the evidence.
The records were treated “as if” sealed during the six-week murder trial, but never officially, spokesperson for the SCAG’s Office Robert Kittle confirmed.
The footage was shown in court, but not streamed and redacted versions were released following proceedings.
This was to protect the victims’ family from seeing graphic images.
It was not learned until after the Colleton County clerk’s office sent the videos to Netflix in a Freedom of Information Act request, that these portions had not been removed because they were not labeled as “sealed” clerk of court Becky Hill stated in court.
Judge Clifton Newman ordered they be sealed moving forward. However, concerns still exist among family, prosecutors and the defense that the graphic images may still be distributed.
Hill informed the court that a Netflix producer had promised these images would not be used.
“If you want to take the word of an entity that can make a lot of money off of those images as opposed to some sort of written agreement or something, then you may do that,” defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said. “I would want them to consent to an order by the court for them to return it and any and all copies destroyed.”
Judge Newman stated they’d have to work with Netflix first before any hearing or issuing an additional order.
It has been three months since a jury convicted Murdaugh of murdering his wife and son. The disbarred attorney is still facing more than 100 financial crimes.
Earlier this week for the first time, a grand jury indicted Murdaugh on additional federal charges.
No trial date has been set for any of these charges. Though prosecutors have been eager to get the ball rolling, Kittle stated the delay was due to Harpootlian’s legislative immunity.
“I might be willing to waive my legislative immunity next Spring. But I think to try this case, another case this calendar year for a guy who’s serving two life-without parole-sentences, serves no purpose,” Harpootlian said.
“The allegations there go to the heart of what can happen when someone abuses their law license, how it can affect the system. These are very important issues, and they need to see the light of day,” lead prosecutor Creighton Waters said.
During Friday’s hearing, Judge Newman set a status conference for Murdaugh’s pending charges for Sept. 11 that will coincide with the trial of Corey Fleming, an accused co-conspirator of Murdaugh’s, in Beaufort.
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