S5 E4: updates on and speculation about the Murdaugh trial and what it says about media bias, privilege, and South Carolina corruption
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In Season 4, Ep 3, we talked about the death of Mallory Beach, and how we use the story as a cautionary tale to talk to our kids about being careful of the company one keeps. For those unfamiliar with the story you can go back and watch that episode, or better yet go check out Mandy Matney’s “Murdaugh Murders Podcast”. Mandy has done an incredible job of covering this unbelievable story from start to now.
In a VERY broad overview- In February 2019 Alex Murdaugh’s son, Paul, was intoxicated and involved in a boat accident that claimed the life of a young woman named Mallory Beach. This accident set off an incredible series of events and revelations that shone light on decades and generations of corrupt power in the LowCountry of South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, Mallory’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Murdaughs, among others. It has been revealed that Alex Murdaugh tried to influence the other parties involved in the accident as well as the investigation into the accident.
Two years later, in June 2021, Alex Murdaugh found his wife and son, Maggie and Paul, murdered on the grounds of their hunting lodge, Moselle, in Colleton County, South Carolina.
In September that same year Alex called 911 claiming that he had a flat tire on a back country road, and someone stopped and shot him. It was later revealed, by admission from Alex himself, that it was coordinated so that Alex could appear murdered in order for his older/surviving son to collect an insurance policy.
In November of the same year Alex was indicted on 19 financial crimes, with 99 charges, including fraud and embezzlement. It was discovered that he had stolen millions of dollars from his clients, his law firm, financial institutions, and those closest to him. Others are going down with him, but we won’t go down the rabbit hole.
In the summer of 2022 Alex Murdaugh was charged with the murder of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh after high velocity blood splatter was found on his clothing from the night of the slayings.
Now we are sitting through “the trial of the century” in South Carolina.This doesn’t even account for the death of Stephen Smith, or the mysterious death of housekeeper Gloria Satterfied (in which Alex committed more insurance fraud to collect money from his homeowners insurance for his housekeeper’s family, then kept it all for himself). There is so much more in between those lines, but that should get you pretty much caught up- at least enough to keep track.
In our episode last year we talked mostly about the boat crash that claimed the life of Mallory Beach, the impact it had on the other people on the boat that night, and how we use it as a cautionary tale for our kids about choosing friends wisely, and how to remove yourself from dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.
Now we have a trial where a man who was once one of the more powerful men in our state, and one of the most powerful in the LowCountry, is finally being held accountable for years of corruption and abuse of the system, and defrauding those who trusted him. He is being represented by two high-powered attorneys, one of whom is an elected Senator in SC with a lot of powerful contacts nationally.
Alex’s attempts to drive the case and establish stories are clear throughout every witness statement that has been provided related to any of the events in this saga. Throughout all the incidents outlined above Alex tried to write his own narrative. At the hospital after the boat crash he tried to create a story with the witnesses to lessen the likelihood that his son would be the focus of any investigation. He did the same with investigators the night of Maggie’s and Paul’s murders. He did it with his mother’s caretaker to make sure she was clear on his alibi.
National media handling of the case and coverage has been either biased or entirely founded on ignorance. Is there a lesson in this?
A damning piece of evidence in this case is a Snapchat video Paul Murdaugh posted moments before the murders. Alex had said he was at his mother’s at the time Maggie and Paul were murdered, but his voice is heard (and has been confirmed by multiple sources close to him) on the video. Other videos Paul took show Alex in different clothing earlier in the day, and which has yet to be found.
Why Harpootlian? Circuit Court Judges are chosen by legislature, so having a high-powered senator as your representation would certainly guarantee your judge is friendly to you, right? Is it fair that power and privilege would allow you to manipulate the system in such a way? How has Judge Cliffton Newman handled the case, and what does it teach our children?
Innocent until proven guilty- how do we explain to our kids that even someone like Alex Murdaugh deserves representation and a fair trial when he has done so many horrible things to so many good people, and when his lies are stacked on lies and create a mountain that would dwarf Everest?