BEAUFORT, S.C. (WCBD) – The United States Government on Thursday filed a motion arguing testimony given by former Hampton County lawyer Alex Murdaugh during the double-murder trial of his wife and son should not warrant a retrial for ex-Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte, who was convicted in a separate trial of helping Murdaugh carry out several financial crimes.
Laffitte was found guilty in November on all six of the following counts:
- Conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud
- Bank fraud
- Wire Fraud
- Misapplication of bank funds (x3)
He filed his first request for a retrial shortly after the verdict, arguing two jurors were improperly dismissed.
The U.S. Government opposed that motion, arguing that no new trial should be given because the previous trial was carried out properly and defense did not take action until after the verdict was reached. The request was denied.
During the double murder trial for Murdaugh’s wife and son, prosecutors questioned Murdaugh about the roughly 100 financial crimes for which he has been indicted. Murdaugh admitted to all of the crimes, but insisted that he committed them on his own.
Following that testimony, Laffitte filed his second motion for a retrial, arguing Murdaugh cleared his name.
The U.S. Government argued against that logic in the latest filing, claiming Murdaugh’s testimony is not new evidence, which would be required to bring a retrial. Additionally, the motion claims that the evidence presented in the previous trial contradicts Murdaugh’s claims that Laffitte did not knowingly assist in carrying out the crimes.
The filing goes on to say that Murdaugh’s testimony is unlikely to produce an acquittal, calling into question Murdaugh’s credibility.
“It is difficult to imagine the Defendant relying on a less credible witness to support his claim for a new trial,” the motion reads. “Over two days of testimony during his murder trial, Murdaugh admitted to lying to his clients and stealing money from them for years… Murdaugh is not a credible witness.”
Ultimately, the U.S. Government asks the court to deny the request for retrial, saying that it is “based solely on the testimony of an unindicted coconspirator who has now admitted that for years, he stole money from his clients and lied to his family, friends, law partners, employees, clients, and law enforcement.”
Murdaugh has yet to stand trial for the financial crimes.