Disgraced former lawyer Alex Murdaugh is facing more legal troubles after the parents of a boating crash victim filed a lawsuit against him on Monday.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Murdaugh’s son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh, was allegedly driving a boat in 2019 when he killed Mallory Beach, 19, who was riding in the boat with him. Four other people were in the boat but survived.
Paul Murdaugh is accused of crashing his father’s boat into the Archer’s Creek bridge near Parris Island in North Carolina. Paul Murdaugh and other passengers on the boat were “grossly intoxicated,” police reports said at the time.
The fatal boat crash has come under increased scrutiny after Paul and his mother, Maggie Murdaugh, were fatally shot outside a residential building at their hunting lodge in Colleton County on June 7. Police have not named any suspects in the double homicide, but have said that the victims were killed with different firearms.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was awaiting trial for a “boating under the influence” charge.
Newly-released court documents, according to the Island Packet, indicate that Alex Murdaugh attempted to get another boat passenger, Connor Cook, to hire Beaufort lawyer Cory Fleming to represent him in the case. However, Murdaugh is accused of withholding information about Fleming, specifically that he’s Alex Murdaugh’s godfather, a close friend, and confidant.
Cook was allegedly told to “keep his mouth shut” about the case. He ultimately complied with both requests, court documents state.
According to the lawsuit, Alex Murdaugh “served to convert the unwitting Plaintiff Cook into an agent of protection for Paul Murdaugh, exposing Plaintiff Cook to the potential of being charged as boat operator and therefore responsible for the accident.”
Cook was knocked unconscious after the accident and suffered from “serious cut to his face and multiple fractures to his jaw,” the lawsuit said.
Investigators eventually cleared Cook from any wrongdoing. However, the lawsuit alleges that Murdaugh orchestrated a campaign to Cook both civilly and criminally responsible for the incident. Murdaugh is accused of orchestrating a “whisper campaign in the Hampton County community, and law enforcement misdirection and possible obstruction of the investigation.”
Cook also alleged a “civil conspiracy,” accusing five police officers of knowing about attempts to interfere with the investigation. Cook additionally claimed that some evidence was missing from the scene of the crash.
The five officers “have information as to a ‘campaign’ to cloud the investigatory issues and disseminate false information in the community with the intention of misleading law enforcement and prosecution charging parties, and the public, into wrongly and falsely believing Connor Cook should be arrested and charged as the boat operator with multiple counts of Felony Boating Under the Influence,” a previous petition read.
Additional passengers, including Beach’s boyfriend, Anthony Cook (it is not clear if he is related to Connor Cook), previously gave depositions in connection to the wrongful death suit. The deposition records show that Anthony Cook told Austin Pritcher, an officer with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources whose job was to “figure out who was driving the boat,” that Paul Murdaugh was driving it.
The report also states that Paul Murdaugh denied driving the boat in his initial interview with Pritcher at the hospital after the crash, when Mallory Beach was still missing.
Beach had been thrown from the boat, something that Paul Murdaugh did not immediately tell the dispatcher when he called 911 to report the crash, but revealed that someone was missing not long into the conversation.
Alex Murdaugh has not commented on the latest lawsuit.
Check back for updates.
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[Featured Photo: Mallory Beach & Alex Murdaugh/Police Handout]
*Additional reporting by Ellen Killoran*