A federal judge said that convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh “is manifestly not a credible witness” in a ruling denying a new trial for former Murdaugh banker Russell Laffitte, who was convicted last year of conspiring with Murdaugh to misappropriate bank funds, part of the dozens of financial fraud charges Murdaugh still faces.
Laffitte has not yet been sentenced and in March made his second attempt at a new trial — this time based on Murdaugh’s confession to the financial crimes during his trial for the murders of his wife and son, Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, according to Law & Crime.
“Russell Laffitte never conspired with me to do anything, whatever was done was done by me,” Murdaugh said on the stand. ” … This is stuff that I did. I did these things wrong. Russell Laffitte didn’t do anything. … You keep talking about stuff I did with Russell Laffitte, but what I want to let you know is that I did this, and I am the one that took people’s money that I shouldn’t have taken and that Russell Laffitte was not involved in helping me do that knowingly. … If he did it, he did it without knowing it.”
Laffitte’s attorneys promptly filed another appeal after that testimony, noting Murdaugh’s testimony.
Laffitte Motion Opinion by kc wildmoon
“On February 23, 2023, Mr. Murdaugh explicitly stated, for the first time in sworn testimony, that he did not participate in a conspiracy with Mr. Laffitte because Mr. Laffitte did not participate in the financial crimes,” the motion read. “Mr. Murdaugh took full responsibility for his actions and testified that Mr. Laffitte did nothing wrong and did not have any knowledge of Mr. Murdaugh’s criminal activity.”
The attorneys argued that Murdaugh’s testimony constitutes “newly discovered evidence” because it happened after the conclusion of Laffitte’s trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel didn’t buy the arguments.
“Murdaugh is manifestly not a credible witness. Evidence offered during the Defendant’s trial established without question that Murdaugh is a serial liar and fraudster who stole from his clients and law partners,” the judge wrote in his ruling, released Wednesday. “He now stands convicted of the double homicide of his wife and son. It is difficult to imagine a less credible witness under these circumstances.”
Further, Gergel wrote that “the overwhelming majority view that post-trial evidence of a witness who refused to testify at the defendant’s trial is not ‘newly discovered’” under federal rules.
“Murdaugh’s presently offered testimony is newly available but not newly discovered,” he said.
A jury took less than three hours last month to find Murdaugh guilty of the murders of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, and Judge Clifton Newman sent him to prison for two life sentences.
Laffitte faces up to 30 years in prison for the federal charges, as CrimeOnline previously reported, and also faces an additional 21 counts in state court.
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[Featured image: Russell Laffitte/Kershaw County Detention Center and Alex Murdaugh/South Carolina Department of Corrections]