Murdaugh defense team motions for U.S. government to take control of assets

Attorneys for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh have filed documents asking the federal government to take control of his assets.
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 12:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 6:37 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Attorneys for convicted killer Alex Murdaugh have filed documents asking the federal government to take control of his assets.

The move would pull the assets from the receivership where they’re currently held and place them in the custody of the U.S. government.

Court documents state the defense believes “the Murdaugh Funds are at risk of substantial dissipation and waste.” They’ve asked, in addition to the seizure of funds, for the receivers to provide receipts from spending.

The defense argues Murdaugh had $2.1 million in assets originally and claims that more than $400,000 has been paid out to co-receivers Peter McCoy and John Lay with another $253,294 being requested.

Court documents state “proof of claim” for third parties be submitted by Oct. 29.

In preparing to distribute funds, the defense says a “special referee” has been requested by Lay and McCoy potentially costing “several hundred thousand dollars more.”

By asking the government to control Murdaugh’s assets, the defense asserts that the federal government is the only entity with a claim to the assets because they are the only one who has instituted a criminal seizure.

“It is inappropriate for the asset forfeiture imposed as part of the conviction and sentence for numerous federal felonies to be managed by private attorneys appointed on the motion of private civil litigants in state court proceedings to protect their future contingent interests in civil litigation,” court documents state.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Court documents state the defense’s belief that the government would perform an accounting of the funds that have been distributed and facilitate the distribution of further funds for free.

The defense asked the receivers for $160,000 for legal fees related to Murdaugh’s appeal in his double murder trial.

Attorney Jim Griffin argued the six-week murder trial exhausted the $600,000 they were originally given.

Murdaugh, 54, was convicted in March. Prosecutors said he stole millions of dollars and found himself teetering on financial disaster, which led him to shoot to death his 22-year-old son, Paul, and 52-year-old wife, Maggie, at their Colleton County home.

In a May hearing in Lexington County, Lay argued that awarding the money to the convicted killer goes against the purpose of the receivership, and gives him preferential treatment over other victims who will make claims for the funds.

Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hall filed the order denying the request.