In an interview with CNN, defense attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin shared their thoughts on the proceeding that lasted nearly six weeks and ended in a double murder conviction for their client, Alex Murdaugh.
Harpootlian said, “I think he (Murdaugh) expected it … After the financial crimes, we were hoping for mistrial, you know, a hung jury. That was the best we could do,” when asked about his client after the unanimous verdict.
“I think he (Murdaugh) was, he was realistic about it, he’s obviously not happy with it, but he believes as we do, he being a lawyer, that we’ve got a solid shot on appeal,” the defense attorney said.
Harpootlian told CNN that he and Griffin spent almost a year working with Alex, his son Paul, and his wife, Maggie, on a criminal boat case from 2019.
“We saw them holding hands, we saw a relationship between Paul and Alex,” Harpootlian said, adding that it is “inexplicable that he would execute his son and his wife in that fashion, in my mind.”
Asked if Murdaugh believes he’s innocent, Harpootlian said, “Absolutely, he says he’s innocent.”
Both lawyers said they were surprised by how quickly the jury arrived at a verdict on Thursday after deliberating for less than three hours.
“We were surprised that deliberations didn’t take longer than they did. And it was a little disturbing,” Griffin said.
But Harpootlian said there was nothing they wished they had done differently.
The case “was over” once the focus turned to Murdaugh’s financial issues for two weeks, he said.
Close connections: The defense attorneys explained how the case was personal not only for themselves, but for the judge and prosecution too.
Griffin said that “it struck me how personal it was” for Judge Clifton Newman and that the judge prompted Murdaugh to speak during Friday’s sentencing.
“This whole case is somewhat personal for all the players involved, and that’s what makes it an unusual setting for a criminal case,” he said.
Griffin said he found the judge’s questions to Murdaugh on Friday interesting.
“Judge Newman was trying to entice Alex to talk more than what he did, but you know, Alex was … had planned to limit his words, and he did,” he said.
Harpootlian said some facts that Newman cited “were inaccurate.”
“I mean obviously he was expressing what he felt, but I don’t think they were particularly accurate or right,” he added.