HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WSAV) — Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys are asking a judge to delay the civil trial connected to Mallory Beach’s death.
The request, filed in Hampton County Court, claims the former South Carolina lawyer will not have “adequate time” to prepare his defense on charges he killed his wife and son and focus on depositions, discovery and a civil trial.
Murdaugh is named in the civil suit filed by Renee Beach, Mallory’s mother, along with Parker’s convenience stores, Richard Alexander “Buster” Murdaugh, the estate of Maggie Murdaugh and the estate of Paul Murdaugh.
Mallory Beach died in March 2019 after the boat she was riding in, driven by an intoxicated ad underage Paul Murdaugh, ran into a piling in Archer’s Creek.
Beach was thrown from the boat. Her body wasn’t found for seven days.
The other four passengers on the boat that night have also filed civil lawsuits against the Murdaugh family and Parker’s. The first was filed by Beach’s family soon after the crash.
Paul Murdaugh was charged with two counts of boating under the influence causing death and causing bodily harm in connection with the crash.
Alex Murdaugh is accused of knowing Paul, who was underage, was drinking heavily that day and night, and yet still allowed him to drive the family boat that night. He is also accused of trying to convince the other teens in the boat that night to not say anything to investigators about the crash and especially that Paul was the driver of the boat when the crash happened.
In June 2021 Paul Murdaugh and his mother Maggie Murdaugh were found shot to death on the family’s Moselle property in Colleton County.
Alex Murdaugh was officially indicted by a Grand Jury on two counts of murder back in July. Murdaugh’s lawyers want the civil trial delayed until after the criminal proceedings are done.
The request reads in part:
“If discovery and the upcoming trial in the Boat Accident Civil Suit proceed, Alex
Murdaugh will be forced to either waive his Fifth Amendment privilege and defend the suit, or
otherwise participate in further discovery and trial regarding these claims, or assert his privilege,
which will be used against him in this civil litigation through an adverse evidentiary inference,
thereby causing him to suffer from undue prejudice.
Moreover, the recent murder indictments against Murdaugh have garnered unprecedented
publicity in local, state, national and international media. If this case proceeds to trial before the
murder case, the effect on a jury in this case from the glaring media spotlight will be difficult to
assess. There will certainly be a significant risk that Murdaugh’s notoriety, and the media’s
presence in the courtroom, will hinder the jury’s ability to give equal attention to all parties to this
lawsuit, and fairly weigh the evidence presented in the trial.
Lastly, one cannot overstate the impact that a televised trial in this case, conducted on the eve of Murdaugh’s murder trial, will have on potential jurors in the murder trial, making it even more difficult to select a jury from within the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit.”
Beach’s attorneys, Mark Tinsley and Tabor Vaux filed their response to that request on Tuesday.
“Despite the hype that Defendant Murdaugh is attempting to spew concerning his purported
constitutional rights, it is the law of the land that a criminal defendant like Alex Murdaugh has no
absolute constitutional right to a stay of a related civil case, much less one that is only tangentially
related at best, even in the face of concerns over the impact the civil matter might have on his
assertion of a Fifth Amendment privilege.
The real reason Defendant Murdaugh seeks this stay is because he does not like how he
will look to the public in the trial, not to avoid the adverse inference the jury is allowed to draw in
this civil matter if and when Murdaugh invokes the Fifth Amendment.
The Beach family lost their daughter in February of 2019. They have endured this grueling
litigation for over three years. It is simply too much, yet Defendant Murdaugh desires to torture
them a little more by utilizing delay tactics. Any burden on Defendant Murdaugh is of his own
making while the Beach family are innocent victims who deserve justice, who deserve their day
in court. The judicial system likewise desperately needs this case to proceed to trial to show the
public that the judicial system and all it stands for is not lost.”