Alex Murdaugh’s Attorneys to Appeal Conviction Because Judge Allow Testimony About Financial Crimes

Alex Murdaugh’s lawyers finally spoke to the media Friday afternoon, hours after their client was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife and son, and said they plan to appeal the verdict.

Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin cited Judge Clifton Newman’s “erroneous decision” to allow testimony about Murdaugh’s multi-million financial crimes — for which he has yet to go to trial — during the 28-day murder trial as grounds for an appeal.

The prosecution contended that the looming financial disaster and Murdaugh’s desperate desire to distract from it were in part motives for the murders, but Griffin said Friday that idea was “illogical and ludicrous.”

Murdaugh admitted defrauding his law firm — which cost him his job and his law license — and blamed it on his drug addiction.

But it was the defense’s own questioning of a witness that prompted Newman to allow the testimony after he had initially ruled it inadmissible. As CrimeOnline previously reported, the defense showed a video of a “loving” Alex Murdaugh at his 54th birthday part and asked Paul Murdaugh’s friends Rogan Gibson and Will Loving if they knew of a motive the now-disgraced lawyer would have to kill his wife or son.

The next day, Newman reversed himself, saying Griffin’s questioning of Gibson and Loving “opened the door” to a discussion of the financial crimes.

“In the questioning in the cross-examination by Griffin, the witness was asked if he could think of any reason possible Mr. Murdaugh would commit the crimes he was accused of committing,” Newman explained. “That turned cross-examination of the witness from dealing with specific issues in the case to having to testify as a character witness for Mr. Murdaugh.”

Harpootlian and Griffin told reporters that they wouldn’t change anything about their defense if they had to do it again — including putting Murdaugh on the stand. Harpootlian said that Murdaugh “always wanted to take the stand,” but the financial crimes testimony that “stripped away” his credibility — and not Murdaugh’s dramatic admission that he had, in fact, been at the kennels where Paul and Maggie were shot to death just minutes before the murders.

The prosecution presented a video shot at the kennels by Paul Murdaugh, which included Alex Murdaugh’s voice in the background, just before his phone shut down for the last time. Juror Craig Moyer, who spoke with ABC News, said that and Murdaugh’s subsequent admission were key to the jury’s quick guilty verdict. As CrimeOnline reported, Moyer said Murdaugh came off as a “big liar.”

Harpootlian said Murdaugh had “no choice” about testifying after the prosecution made him “out to be a monster who stole from children, crippled people” and others. But, he admitted, Murdaugh “apparently didn’t” pull it off.

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[Featured image: Defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian, left, and Jim Griffin speas to media outside the Colleton County Courthouse after their client Alex Murdaugh was sentenced Friday, March 3, 2023, in Walterboro, S.C. (Joshua Boucher/The State via AP, Pool)]