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Murdaugh lawyers subpoena SLED for evidence, testimony in double-murder case

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Columbia lawyer Dick Harpootlian addresses the judge during a bond hearing for Alex Murdaugh at the Colleton County Courthouse on July 20, 2022, in Walterboro. File/Gavin McIntyre/Staff

Visit our Murdaugh Investigation page for or more updates on the Murdaugh murders and Alex Murdaugh court appearances.

COLUMBIA — Alex Murdaugh's defense attorneys have issued subpoenas compelling the State Law Enforcement Division to turn over secret evidence in their client's double-murder case and demanding that four SLED agents testify in a highly anticipated court hearing next week.

Columbia lawyers Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin issued the subpoenas ahead of an Aug. 29 showdown with state prosecutors at the Colleton County Courthouse. State Judge Clifton Newman will hear accusations the S.C. Attorney General's Office has illegally withheld evidence in the case from Murdaugh's legal team while simultaneously leaking damaging material about Murdaugh to news outlets.

The Attorney General's Office has denied those allegations, insisting it isn't the source of any media leaks and blaming Murdaugh's team for manufacturing drama ahead of the double-murder trial, which could come as early as January.

Prosecutors in July charged Murdaugh with fatally shooting his wife, Maggie, and son Paul last summer at the prominent Lowcountry family's 1,770-acre hunting estate in Colleton County. The gruesome June 2021 slayings, carried out with a rifle and a shotgun, captured international attention. SLED and the state grand jury spent 13 months investigating before charging the family patriarch with two counts of murder.

Murdaugh has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers have accused SLED of narrowly focusing on their client and ignoring other possible leads. They have requested a speedy trial, saying they want Murdaugh acquitted so SLED can resume its investigation and find Maggie and Paul's "real killer."

Murdaugh, a once-respected attorney whose father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as elected solicitors in the 14th Judicial Circuit, already faces decades behind bars from a slew of other criminal charges that came to light after the double murders last June. Investigators allege he used his reputation and position as a trusted lawyer to discreetly steal more than $8.7 million from his clients, law partners and other associates over the past decade.

Both Harpootlian and the Attorney General's Office declined to comment on the Aug. 25 subpoenas. A SLED spokeswoman said the agency was reviewing the subpoenas. She had no further comment.

The Murdaugh team is seeking from SLED a host of evidence it hasn't gotten from the Attorney General's Office, including "records, notes, incident reports, non-state grand jury search warrants, returned search warrants and supporting affidavits" collected during their investigation.

It is unclear why Murdaugh's lawyers want SLED agents to testify at the upcoming hearing. But if those investigators appear in court, Harpootlian and Griffin could question them about evidence collected in the case or the source of leaks to media outlets. 

The subpoenas are just the latest escalation in a weekslong feud between Murdaugh's legal team and state prosecutors that has grown increasingly bitter.

Murdaugh's lawyers say Attorney General Alan Wilson's office missed an Aug. 15 deadline to hand over evidence in pre-trial discovery. Harpootlian held a press conference two days later blasting Wilson's office for playing games with discovery and hurting his client's chance at a fair trial. And in a strongly worded court filing Aug. 22, Murdaugh's lawyers accused Wilson's office of selectively leaking material that bolsters their case against Murdaugh.

That evidence includes a video found on Paul Murdaugh's phone that apparently places his father at the scene of the crime not long before Paul and Maggie were fatally shot.

In their own court filings, state prosecutors have called Harpootlian's allegations "categorically false" and "a well-known part of defense counsel's playbook."

Newman will try to get to the bottom of it at 10 a.m. Aug. 29 in Walterboro.

Visit our Murdaugh Investigation page for more updates on the Murdaugh murders and Alex Murdaugh court appearances.

Murdaugh subpoenas to SLED.

Reach Avery Wilks at 803-374-3115. Follow him on Twitter at @AveryGWilks. Send tips to

Projects reporter

Avery G. Wilks is an investigative reporter based in Columbia. The USC Honors College graduate was named the 2018 S.C. Journalist of the Year for his reporting on South Carolina's nuclear fiasco and abuses within the state's electric cooperatives.

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