Police improperly investigated 2019 boat crash involving Murdaugh, Beach lawyer says

·3 min read

A lawyer representing the family of Mallory Beach, the 19-year-old woman killed in a 2019 boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh, said Tuesday that police improperly tried to influence the original boat crash investigation.

Mark Tinsley, an Allendale-based attorney for the Beach family, was responding to news that the S.C. Attorney General’s Office planned to keep the investigation into the boat crash open. Murdaugh, who was shot to death last week, was indicted on boating under the influence charges in the crash that killed Beach.

“The Beaches have every confidence and are hopeful that the attorney general’s office will continue to investigate and prosecute any improprieties related to any attempts by any member of law enforcement to influence the original criminal investigation related to the boat crash,” Tinsley wrote in a statement.

“As such, they support the Attorney General’s decision in how they determine to move forward,” he said.

Murdaugh was killed on June 7. He was found dead alongside his mother, Maggie, with multiple gunshot wounds. Though the Attorney General’s Office said it planned to drop the BUI charges against Murdaugh, a spokesperson said the investigation into the crash would remain open.

The spokesperson did not answer questions as to why.

The Beach family’s statement suggests the scope of the investigation doesn’t include just the boat crash, but what happened afterward.

Boat crash aftermath

Following the boat crash on the morning of Feb. 24, 2019, none of the passengers was administered sobriety tests.

There was confusion over which agency was responding to the crash, and then which agency was investigating. The Port Royal Police Department was involved first, then the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources later became the lead agency.

“It is unclear at this time whether Connor Cook or Paul Murdaugh was driving the boat,” one Sheriff’s Office report states. “All occupants of the boat were under age and were intoxicated.”

In a supplement report, a deputy interviewed passenger Anthony Cook, who said he “begged Paul Murdaugh, who was driving the boat at the time of the incident, to please let him drive because he was too intoxicated to drive.”

Murdaugh was not interviewed at the scene.

In court depositions as part of an ongoing civil case, other passengers identified Murdaugh as the one driving the boat when it crashed.

One day after the boat crash, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone recused himself from prosecuting the case because three people on the boat were related to members of the Solicitor’s Office.

One of those was Paul Murdaugh, son of Alex, who serves as a part-time prosecutor for the office, according to his law firm website.

Paul Murdaugh pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial when he died.

Paul Terry Murdaugh prepares to leave the Beaufort County Courthouse on Monday after having his bond modified for the three felony charges he faces for the Feb. 24 boat crash which killed Mallory Beach. Murdaugh’s defense attorney Jim Griffin asked judge Michael G. Nettles to allow Murdaugh to travel within the state. Nettles ruled that Murdaugh may travel within the state with no other modifications. The state had asked for GPS monitoring as well as alcohol monitoring which was not a condition set by Nettles.
Paul Terry Murdaugh prepares to leave the Beaufort County Courthouse on Monday after having his bond modified for the three felony charges he faces for the Feb. 24 boat crash which killed Mallory Beach. Murdaugh’s defense attorney Jim Griffin asked judge Michael G. Nettles to allow Murdaugh to travel within the state. Nettles ruled that Murdaugh may travel within the state with no other modifications. The state had asked for GPS monitoring as well as alcohol monitoring which was not a condition set by Nettles.

Murder investigation

Police have said nothing to suggest the murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh is linked to the boat crash investigation.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division has released no information on any suspects or motives in the killings.

Tinsley, with the Beach family, said he takes issue with anyone who might suggest the Beach family wanted anything but justice in their case.

“My people have not been called (in) for questioning at all,” Tinsley said, “Because it is clear they never wanted this to happen and have nothing to do with it.”

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