A state judge said Friday that he will decide by the end of Tuesday whether to roll back and try the defendants in the Mallory Beach deathboat crash trial together rather than separately.
The high-profile civil suit, over a death in a waterway near Beaufort in 2019, resulted in multiple lawsuits being filed by the Beach estate against several defendants. Those suspects include accused double-murderer and disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh and Greg Parker, a grocery store owner who allegedly negligently sold alcohol that contributed to the fatal crash.
Friday’s statement by Judge Dan Hall that he would reconsider his decision to let Murdaugh family members, including Alex, try separately from Parker came at the end of a lengthy hearing at the Hampton County courthouse.
Earlier this month, Hall ruled that because of all the negative publicity surrounding Murdaugh, who was charged in July with the murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul in June 2021, it would be “embarrassing” and “harmful” for Parker if he were to be killed. to be. jury to hear their cases together.
Murdaugh is also facing some 80 fraud charges that he stole some $8.4 million from clients, fellow attorneys and employees in more than a decade.
If he turns himself around, Hall said, he will go ahead with a Jan. 9 trial date in Hampton County with Parker and Murdaugh and other Murdaugh family members as the joint defendants.
Hall noted, however, that the state murder trial of Murdaugh could also take place in Colleton County in early January. If that happens, it would probably be impractical to have both trials at the same time, so he’ll consider changing the trial date if that situation arises, Hall said.
In any event, Hall has set January 9 as the trial date in Hampton County for the commencement of the Mallory Beach estate trial against Parker, the sole defendant.
Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, have said they want to begin the murder trial in early January. However, no trial date has been set and the lawyers are still working on voluminous discovery material from the state attorney general’s office, which has charged Murdaugh with the double murder of his wife and son.
Lawyers spar over divorce from beach boat crash case
On Friday, Mark Tinsley, the Beach family attorney, said 200 years of law in South Carolina and more than half a dozen cases of the state Supreme Court affirm the principle that in cases like the Beach Boat Crash case, joint defendants do not can be separated by the action of a judge.
The law is “well arranged” for plaintiffs to determine the defendants in a civil case in which multiple defendants bear some of the liability, Tinsley told the judge.
The plaintiff is the one who suffered, so it “is the exclusive right of the injured party” to choose the defendants, Tinsley said.
But Pankaj “PK” Shure, who represents Parker’s case, told the judge that while Supreme Court precedents may relate to who is charged in the first instance, the judge has the right to determine as the case progresses whether a defendant can be divorced and can get its own process.
The crimes Murdaugh is accused of are so numerous and so dastardly that they have created an international “media circus” that will prevent Parker from getting a fair trial if tried with Murdaugh defendants, Shure said. In addition, none of the criminal charges have anything to do with Parker, or any allegations in the Beach case, he said.
The reason Tinsley is fighting to lump the Murdaughs with Parker is that “the jury is getting inflamed … and that will affect them,” said Shure, who said after Tuesday’s hearing that Tinsley Parker is a “deep bag”.
Parker is a wealthy businessman who owns a chain of convenience stores.
Allegations in the case say that Paul Murdaugh – Alex’s late son – bought a shipment of beer from one of Parker’s convenience stores on Feb. 23.
Paul, 19, was a minor and used an identity card from his older brother, Buster.
From there, Paul and his five friends took a boat to an island, where they started drinking. Later that evening, they took the boat to downtown Beaufort, where Paul and one of his friends drank more alcohol in a bar.
Shortly afterwards, the boat – reportedly driven by a drunk Paul – crashed into a bridge in a waterway off Parris Island.
Parker’s is a defendant because, according to the allegations, the clerk who sold Paul the beer should have seen that he was not the person on the ID Paul used. According to allegations in the Beach lawsuit, Maggie and Alex encouraged underage Paul to buy alcohol and Buster allowed Paul to use a duplicate of Buster’s driver’s license.
The estates of Maggie Murdaugh and Paul Murdaugh are also suspects in the case.
Another original defendant in the case, the Beaufort bar that sold Paul alcohol, settled the case with Beach’s family.