My media reported several weeks ago on the Hollywood binge eating linked to the true ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime saga in rural South Carolina – which has only intensified in the weeks that follow. followed.
“Hovering over the rubbish of multiple crime scenes, hiding in a labyrinthine maze of convoluted court dramas and looking behind every new twist are huge dollar signs… and a mad rush is underway in some corners to garner so much. of those dollars than humanly possible, ”I noted at the time.
Many of those pursuing these dollar signs are already making initial investments in Murdaugh’s story – inking “consultants”, lining up production companies, and hiring researchers as they begin the long and arduous process of collecting and selling. sorting through mountains of sources related to the drama. .
The final goal? To turn all the raw information, images and footage they collect into something that looks like a captivating, digestible… and yes, marketable story.
Ditto for the stories …
Either way, some of the circling vultures seeking to ride the thermal updrafts of the gentle Palmetto Lowcountry may have used less than ethical means to get their information – including a reporter accused of purchasing confidential documents associated with a major crime. Murdaugh family death trial.
I refer, of course, to the pending action brought by the family of Mallory Beach – a case that reached a higher level of energy earlier this week when one of the most powerful members of the SC General Assembly appeared in court on behalf of one of its defendants.
Beach, 19, of Hampton, SC, was killed shortly after 2:00 a.m. EST on February 24, 2019. On that fateful morning, a 17-foot center console fishing boat owned by the lawyer Alex murdaugh (the man currently at the center of this still ongoing saga) and allegedly led by his late son, Paul murdaugh, crashed into the piles of a bridge in Beaufort County, SC at high speed.
Paul Murdaugh was “drunker than Cooter Brown” at the time of the crash, to quote his late grandfather – former Fourteenth Circuit SC lawyer Randolph Murdaugh III (one of three Murdaughs to hold this position between 1920-2006).
(Click to view)
(Via: Beach Family)
Beach (above) was thrown into the cold, dark water as a result of the boat’s impact with the deck – never to be seen alive again. His body was found a week later by fishermen more than five miles from the crash site.
Paul Murdaugh, who was nineteen at the time of the crash, bought alcoholic drinks from a Parker’s grocery store in Ridgeland, SC using a driver’s license belonging to his brother, Buster murdaugh.
Her family’s lawyers claimed the store was negligent in selling her alcohol, which is why Parker’s kitchen and its founder Greg Parker are listed as defendants in this case along with Buster and Alex Murdaugh. More defendants could still be added, says Beach family lawyer Mark Tinsley.
As noted in my previous coverage, Paul Murdaugh was criminally charged with three counts of impaired boating as a result of this incident, although he was never tried on those charges because he and his mother, aged 52 Maggie Murdaugh, were brutally murdered on the family’s hunting property on the border of Colleton and Hampton counties three months ago.
“Paul Murdaugh was reportedly killed by a pair of shotgun blasts – one in the chest and another that hit him in the arm and head,” I reported at the time, citing my network of sources. police and judicial.
This information has since been publicly confirmed by health officials to be the cause of Paul Murdaugh’s death.
As for Maggie Murdaugh, she was reportedly shot dead by a semi-automatic rifle at or around the same time that her son was killed.
Alex Murdaugh remains a “person of interest” in the context of this investigation for double homicide.
Charges against Paul Murdaugh evidently died with him, but an ongoing criminal investigation is examining allegations of obstruction of justice following the boat accident – with Alex Murdaugh and other members of his family believed to be under the microscope. This investigation is currently before the SC State Grand Jury in Columbia, SC
Meanwhile, the Murdaugh family – and the powerful law firm they founded in Hampton – are at least embroiled in six criminal investigations and a rapidly growing list of civil cases.
This particular civil case, however, attracted the most media attention … including “journalistic” interest which may have gone beyond certain ethical and legal limits. In fact, during a court appearance this week in Lexington County, Tinsley accused one of the Beach Defendants of selling confidential mediation material to a reporter who is currently working on a documentary on the Murdaugh family.
According to court documents filed in Hampton County, British-born author, journalist and commentator Vicky ward has been subpoenaed by lawyers for the Beach family – and ordered to appear in a deposition next Monday (October 4, 2021) in Bluffton, SC
Ward is a former CNN reporter who, according to her own affidavit in the matter (.pdf), “is currently working on a project to produce a current affairs documentary concerning the Murdaugh family in Hampton County, North Carolina. South”.
“As part of my information gathering efforts for the Murdaugh family documentary, I spent four days in South Carolina in September 2021,” Ward’s affidavit continues.
(Click to view)
(Via: Askryan via Wikimedia Commons)
During this trip, Ward (above) obtained confidential information about the mediation of a person or entity affiliated with the Defendants in the Beach case. In fact, as Tinsley noted during this week’s hearing, this information would have been sold to him.
In light of these allegations, Tinsley is looking for all documents in Ward’s possession relating to the Beach case, “including, but not limited to, the confidential video of the mediation presentation and any other material he either written, electronic or in any other form “. Specifically, Tinsley’s subpoena seeks to determine whether Ward obtained confidential mediating information from “any person, company, or entity, who was operating on behalf of, related to, or associated in any way with Gregory M. Parker, Inc., Parker’s Corporation, Gregory M. Parker, or their agents or employees.
The summons further relates to documents in Ward’s possession provided by any person “affiliated in any way with the law firm of Baker Hostetler, the law firm of Griffith, Freeman and Liipfert, LLC, the firm of attorneys Collins and Lacy, PC, or any other representative “of Parker and its companies.
Finally, the subpoena applies to all documents in Ward’s possession provided by any person affiliated with “Private Investigation Services Group, LLC, Max Fratoddi or Henry Rosoda, including, but not limited to, all reports, media , images, recordings, videos, emails, correspondence, contracts, nondisclosure agreements, notes, text messages or any other communication with such persons or entities.
These individuals and entities would be working on Parker’s behalf in this matter.
DON’T MISS A STORY …
REGISTER TODAY !
According to a document (.pdf) from Ward’s attorney, she is invoking South Carolina’s journalistic “protection law” by refusing to be impeached by Tinsley – and by refusing to comply with the filing requirements that ‘he issued.
As someone who has made a name for himself defending his confidential sources, I respect that. In fact, my source protection case triggered a much needed debate on the loopholes in Palmetto State’s “shield law”.
No journalist should already be forced to violate the trust of one of their confidential sources, and if Ward does have a confidential source for any of the information she obtained – so I got it back 100 percent by refusing to give the name (s) of these people.
Were Ward’s sources confidential, however?
Not according to Tinsley. According to the plaintiffs’ attorney, Ward broke confidentiality – and thus revoked any legal protection to which she might have been entitled – when she told him and another lawyer, Thabor Vaux, the source of the information it received.
“She told us what she had and where she got it, which is why the subpoena asks what she is asking for,” Tinsley told me, adding that “the Journalists Shield Act protects only confidential information “.
Ward’s lawyer, Andrew Celli, Jr., disputed this interpretation.
“Vicky Ward is an investigative reporter entitled to the full protection of the South Carolina Journalists Shield Act,” Celli told me. “She is neither a party nor a supporter of the swirling controversies surrounding the Murdaugh affair; she just covers them as a journalist. Our legal files speak for themselves.
While Ward’s claim to the Palmetto State Shield Law remains unresolved, she is unlikely to encounter any legal issues in relation to the materials she allegedly purchased. Even if it is determined that she improperly obtained confidential mediation files, the guilt would likely lie with those who to supply sealed materials.
Yet Ward’s injection into this saga intensifies the pitched battle currently unfolding between the Beach family and the various defendants named in this potentially multi-million dollar civil lawsuit. Additionally, it underscores the fierce competition for inside information tied to the larger Murdaugh saga by those looking to capitalize on it in the media arena.
Stay tuned… this medium looks forward to informing its readers about the disposition of this particular aspect of the civil case, which continues to generate considerable interest alongside the multiple criminal investigations linked to this saga.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will people is the founding editor of the newspaper you are reading now. Prior to founding FITSNews, he was press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has a LOT of hats (including the San Diego Padres cover pictured above).
DO YOU WANT TO TURN OFF THE SOUND?
Do you have something to say in response to one of our stories? Or a problem that you would like to proactively solve? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. A tip for a story? CLICK HERE. A technical question or a problem to report? CLICK HERE.
RECEIVE THE LATEST NEWS FROM SOUTH CAROLINA IN YOUR INBOX …