COLLETON COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Former Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh is next set to face a judge on Friday afternoon in a Colleton County courtroom.
Murdaugh is charged in the June 7, 2021, shooting deaths of his wife, Maggie, and their youngest son, Paul.
Judge Clifton Newman scheduled the hearing for 2 p.m. He will hear pending motions and has said Murdaugh himself must be present for the hearing.
A recent defense motion sought an order stating that Murdaugh will not have to be shackled during such hearings leading up to his trial, which is set to begin in January. That motion requested he not have to wear shackles during courtroom proceedings “in which news media are present with video cameras.”
The motion cites U.S. Supreme Court cases that have forbidden shackling criminal defendants during a trial without “a special need” because shackling is “an inherently prejudicial practice” and “should be permitted only where justified by an essential state interest specific to each trial.”
“There is no specific, special need to shackle Mr. Murdaugh in the courtroom,” the motion states. “He has not -- and is not alleged to have -- engaged in any behavior suggesting he is a threat to the courtroom or will somehow escape from it.”
The state’s short response stated it would “leave matters of security in the sound judgment of this court as informed by the police officers responsible for safety in the courtroom.”
SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases
A second motion, filed this week, seeks a “bill of particulars” from prosecutors about the alleged motive they intend to claim that Murdaugh would have had in the killings. Murdaugh attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin asked for “sufficient particularity to allow the defense to identify relevant inculpatory or exculpatory evidence in advance of trial,” court documents state.
The defense team argues the state should provide the information to “avoid unnecessarily extending the trial by weeks.”
During a similar motions hearing held last Friday, the defense and prosecution agreed on a jury questionnaire that potential jurors will fill out before jury selection begins.
This week’s hearing will be the fourth pre-trial hearing since Murdaugh was indicted in the killings.
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