Colleton County Courthouse, Walterboro, S.C.

In a major ruling for the prosecution in the double murder case against disbarred Hampton County lawyer Alex Murdaugh, S.C. Circuit Judge Clifton Newman ruled Thursday that prosecutors could call witnesses to testify how Murdaugh allegedly stole money — as long as they can show the testimony is linked to the killings. Witnesses testified without the presence of the jury to decide whether they would give evidence in the case. 

Prosecutors said the alleged financial misdeeds are key to their case, as Murdaugh was confronted earlier on the day of the killings about $782,000 in supposedly missing fees from his law firm’s account. They said Murdaugh planned the murders to gain sympathy and buy time to cover up the missing money. 

​​“He was burning through cash like crazy and he was out of options,” said prosecutor Creighton Waters.

But Murdaugh’s defense attorneys argued prosecutors are trying to smear Murdaugh’s name with behavior not related to the killings.  They said it was ridiculous and absurd to think Murdaugh would believe brutally murdering his family would bring anything but scrutiny to his life, according to the Associated Press

“They’ve got a whole lot more evidence about financial misconduct than they do about evidence of guilt in a murder case. And that’s what this is all about,” said defense lawyer Jim Griffin.

In other headlines:

Guerilla art spoof calls out gentrification in Charleston. An odd new sign has been seen at Line Street and the crosstown in downtown Charleston. The sign reads, “Be prepared to stop. Gentrification ahead.”

Head of SCETV steps down. Anthony Padgett, the president and CEO of SCETV, resigned Feb. 2, effective March 3. Padgett announced he would become the Thomas Rieland Endowed General Manager of WOSU Public Media in Columbus, Ohio, effective March 6. The executive team of SCETV will remain in place to lead the network amid the transition.

Charleston unveils plan to implement EV charging. The City of Charleston revealed its first draft of an ordinance to add more charging infrastructure for electric cars that would only apply to new buildings within city limits.

Judge rules settlement to cut forest on Sullivan’s Island is unenforceable. S.C. Circuit Judge Jennifer McCoy ruled that the current Sullivan’s Island Town Council is not bound by the decisions made by previous councils in the matter of cutting its beachfront maritime forest.

Microplastics can be found in the oysters we eat, Citadel researchers find. Microplastics have been found in oysters along the South Carolina coast, and FDA-approved cleaning only removes 55% to 70% of the plastic. So far, no method has succeeded in total plastic elimination.

Duell wins award for historic preservation efforts. Charles Duell, founder of Middleton Place Foundation, will receive the 2023 ACBA Honors Award on Feb. 8, a national recognition the American College of the Building Arts gives annually to those who have made their mark in the preservation of historic places or building arts.
To get dozens of South Carolina news stories every business day, contact the folks at SC Clips.

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.