Judge who sentenced Alex Murdaugh steps aside, won't hear motion for new trial
The Judge who sentenced Alex Murdaugh to life in prison will not hear motions in the convicted killer’s fight for a new trial. An order issued Thursday by the state Supreme Court reveals Judge Clifton Newman has asked that “a new judge be assigned."
Earlier this month, Murdaugh’s defense team petitioned the court to remove Judge Newman from the case, arguing he worked closely with Colleton County Clerk of Court Becky Hill who they now accuse of jury tampering. They also pointed to comments Judge Newman made from the bench during sentencing about Murdaugh’s guilt and to the media following the trial, as reasons to remove him.
The high court responded in its order, calling the request to remove Judge Newman from hearing motions about a mistrial “moot” because he’d already stepped aside. The justices also denied a defense request to exclude Newman from presiding over future trials involving Murdaugh on other charges.
The disbarred attorney still faces 101 state charges he stole from former clients, colleagues and friends. He’s scheduled to stand trial on some of those charges beginning Nov. 27. The court said that trial will go on as scheduled, denying a defense motion for a stay. Judge Newman has been assigned to hear the case.
But Murdaugh’s team has filed a separate motion asking Judge Newman to voluntarily recuse himself from that upcoming trial. Newman has yet to respond. He's expected to preside over an already scheduled pre-trial hearing Friday morning.
Murdaugh was convicted in March of murdering his wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul. The prosecution presented evidence of his alleged financial crimes to prove motive — that is Murdaugh killed his family members to distract from a mountain of lies that was about to be exposed.
No word yet on which judge will determine if Murdaugh gets a new trial.