New SC judge taking over some of Alex Murdaugh’s criminal cases. What we know
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Letitia Verdin is taking over seven criminal cases involving suspended attorney Alex Murdaugh, who was indicted by the state grand jury last year.
The new development was made public Thursday in an order signed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty.
The seven cases Verdin will be presiding over are the 21 alleged financial crimes Murdaugh was indicted for in December. Those crimes involved allegedly stealing from clients and taking money that should have gone to his former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth & Detrick, also known as PMPED.
The other financial crimes for which Murdaugh was indicted in November will apparently continue to be handled by State Judge Clifton Newman.
Verdin, from Greenville, is a judge from the state’s 13th Judicial Circuit, who has been a state judge since 2011.
She is a Furman University graduate and a 1997 graduate of the University of South Carolina Law School.
It was not immediately clear why Beatty appointed Verdin to the latest batch of Murdaugh cases.
Beatty did not elaborate in the court order why Verdin was appointed.
Murdaugh attorney Jim Griffin declined to comment on the judicial appointment.
Verdin to have jurisdiction over all ‘general session matters’
More indictments are expected in Murdaugh’s case, and it is not known whether more judges will be appointed to handle them.
In December, Murdaugh was charged with 21 counts of financial crimes, alleging he stole a total of $1.3 million across three counties, according to the S.C. Attorney General’s Office.
The 21 counts were contained in seven indictments involving seven separate former clients of Murdaugh’s, who trusted him with large sums of money they had coming to them as a result of settlements they had received. The indictments said the crimes were committed from 2016 to late 2020.
In November, Murdaugh was indicted on 27 counts of new financial crimes, alleging he stole a total of $4.8 million across five counties.
Those indictments alleged Murdaugh used a personal bank account to launder millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains as far back as 2015 and as recently as last May. Murdaugh stole money from clients, as well as money that should have gone to his former Hampton law firm, PMPED, the indictments allege.
In his order, Beatty wrote that Verdin will have jurisdiction of “all general sessions matters, including trials by jury and civil forfeiture actions” arising from Murdaugh’s December indictments.
Earlier this week, PMPED, the storied Hampton law firm founded by Murdaugh’s great-grandfather in 1910, announced it had stripped the Murdaugh family name and three other partners from its name.
The firm is now called the Parker Law Group after partner and influential lawyer John E. Parker.
Parker is the only living partner from the original PMPED name, the firm said.
The law firm’s website still had not changed its name as of Thursday evening.
Murdaugh’s unfolding struggles started back last June when his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, were found shot to death at the family’s 1,700-acre hunting property that straddles Hampton and Colleton counties.
Police have announced no arrests or suspects in the murders of Maggie, 52, and Paul, 22.
Murdaugh’s attorney has acknowledged that his client has been a person of interest in the killings, but asserts that Murdaugh had no motive to kill them.