Alex Murdaugh informed law enforcement that he’d been shot in the head by a hitman back in 2021 and that might be the least bizarre event in the story of his life. Then it came out that he might have hired the hitman himself and the “hitman” said he didn’t even shoot him. Murdaugh’s family firm — one of the most entrenched and powerful legal institutions in South Carolina — cut him loose amid claims of embezzling and he lost his license. All of this happened three months after he found his wife and son murdered — which is the crime that brings him to his current trial.
Oh, and he was arrested on charges related to the death of the family housekeeper — whose family didn’t get the life insurance payout Murdaugh was supposed to get them. And an indictment over money laundering and selling oxy. And another man was suspiciously killed near the Murdaugh home several years ago and Murdaugh’s deceased son was implicated in the boating death of a woman. There’s a podcast about it all and now a Netflix special.
So with murders, hitmen, fake hitmen, embezzling, insurance fraud, professional responsibility, money laundering, and drug trafficking already on the table, the trial wasn’t going to get any less outlandish.
Enter Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh’s lawyer, and a real-life state senator in South Carolina in case you ever wondered why people worry about letting South Carolina pick presidential candidates. He’s taken to his role in the twisted Murdaugh circus with gusto:
As the double-murder trial of prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh continues to draw the true-crime spotlight, his trial attorney Dick Harpootlian seemingly can’t help but pull some of the attention his own way. So far, his hijinks have included asking a journalist if she was the “alter sexual ego” of her blog’s founder and feigning surprise over a seven-figure bond — “It’s not often a Black judge sets a bond like that.” Adding to that list was his apparent joke on Tuesday afternoon involving a rifle.
Alter sexual ego? What is this… Underneath Their Robes? As for the racial commentary and loose gun play, it’s worth noting that Harpootlian is a prominent DEMOCRAT in South Carolina politics because the Overton window is a balistraria down there.
But, so, why was he pointing an assault rifle at the prosecutors?
Harpootlian was explaining that his client could not have killed his wife with an AR-15-style rifle because, at six-foot-four, Murdaugh would have had to crouch in an “unrealistic shooting position” for the trajectory to line up with her gunshot wounds. With the gun in his hands, Harpootlian briefly pointed it at prosecutors and said, “tempting.” The wisecrack led Alan Wilson, the South Carolina attorney general seated at the prosecutor’s table, to smile.
Whatever it says about Murdaugh’s aim, Harpootlian seems to be aiming for a mistrial! While the Intelligencer notes that despite these eccentric moves, Harpootlian “is conducting a more traditional defense,” it seems to overlook the value of style over substance. Dialing up the absurdity surrounding an otherwise straightforward case is a strategy of its own.
So keep your bingo cards handy, because you never know what’s going to happen next.
Alex Murdaugh’s Lawyer Jokingly Points Gun at Prosecutor [Intelligencer]
Earlier: South Carolina Attorney Indicted For Murder Of Wife And Son On Top Of The ‘Embezzlement, Money Laundering, Hitman, Insurance Plot, Oxy’ Stuff
South Carolina Lawyer Murder Story Keeps Getting Crazier
Lawyer Shot In The Head Now Suspended From Practice
Lawyer Shot… By Hitman… He Hired… Who Didn’t Really Shoot Him?… Now Arrested For ANOTHER Death
Family Law Firm Rebranding After The Whole ‘Embezzlement, Hitman, Insurance Plot Thing’
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.
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