The state of South Carolina has dropped charges against Paul Murdaugh stemming from a 2019 boat crash that killed a woman, a move that was prompted by Murdaugh’s own death earlier this summer, the Island Packet reports.
Murdaugh, 22, and his 52-year-old mother were fatally shot June 7 on the family’s vast estate in Colleton County. That case remains under investigation and no one has been arrested in connection with it.
In April 2019, a grand jury indicted Murdaugh with one count of boating under the influence causing death, and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury.
He later pleaded not guilty but had not yet faced trial when he died.
The charges stem from an incident two months earlier in which Murdaugh was alleged to be “grossly intoxicated” and driving a boat when he struck a bridge piling. Some passengers, including 19-year-old Mallory Beach (pictured), were thrown from the boat. Her body was found a week later, according to WSAV-TV.
Robert Kittle, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Attorney General’s office, told the Island Packet that the state withdrew the charges because Murdaugh is now deceased.
However, investigators are still probing the crash and sources have told the newspaper that a grand jury is reviewing a potential obstruction of justice charge.
Some have questioned whether law enforcement and judicial officials gave Murdaugh special treatment given the prominence of his family, which includes three generations of state prosecutors. Murdaugh was not handcuffed at his bond hearing, he was not required to wear an orange jumpsuit for his mugshot and he was allowed to travel while awaiting trial.
Developments since the June 7 slayings indicate that there are inconsistent statements and reports by police, potentially missing evidence, and possible efforts by the Murdaugh family to interfere in the crash probe, according to the newspaper.
Murdaugh’s blood-alcohol concentration after the crash was three times the legal limit and likely would have been higher at the time of the crash.
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[Featured Photo: Mallory Beach/Facebook; Paul Murdaugh/Handout]