Judge denies two motions in Mallory Beach boat case ahead of trial

Posted at 1:00 PM, July 14, 2023 and last updated 3:26 PM, July 14, 2023


HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (Court TV) — Parties involved in the civil case regarding a 2019 boat crash that killed Mallory Beach were in court Friday for a motions hearing.

Beach’s family has filed a wrongful death suit against Alex Murdaugh and Greg Parker, owner of the Parker’s Kitchen convenience store chain. The case is set to go to trial on August 14.

hampton county courthouse exterior

FILE – Hampton County Courthouse in Hampton County, South Carolina. (Court TV)

Beach, 19, was tossed from a boat driven by Paul Murdaugh, who hit a bridge in the early morning hours of February 24, 2019. Paul, 19, was reportedly drunk at the time. He had used his older brother’s ID to illegally purchase alcohol at Parker’s hours before the crash. Beach’s body was recovered seven days later. She had drowned.

Some parties named in the Beach family suit settled, including Buster Murdaugh and the estate of Maggie Murdaugh; but Parker’s and Alex Murdaugh opted to go to trial.

At the beginning of Friday’s proceedings, a judge agreed to dismiss the claims against Paul Murdaugh’s estate on behalf of attorney Mark Tinsley, who represents the Beach family. Tinsley said it was determined there were no assets hidden in Paul’s estate.

The judge also heard arguments from attorneys representing Parker’s regarding a motion filed July 7, seeking to have their case severed from Alex Murdaugh. They also argued for the trial to be moved from Hampton County, where Alex stood trial and was convicted for the murders of his youngest son and wife earlier this year.

In court Friday, Parker’s argued the Plaintiff’s wanted to keep their case with Alex’s to get a jury angry and “make Parker’s deep pockets pay.” They also cited Alex’s conviction as a reason to move the trial out of Hampton County.

Following a brief recess, the judge denied Parker’s motion to sever and motion to transfer venue.

It was the second time Parker’s has sought severance.

According to the filing, their initial motion was granted in fall 2022 after the Court “agreed with Parker’s assessment of the hazards of facing trial with the Murdaugh Defendants.” The Court wrote, “If there was ever a case in which a Court may exercise its sound discretion order separate trials to prevent delays or prejudice, this is it.”

Two weeks later, according to the new motion, the Court “undid its extensively-reasoned order and granted Plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration” and “did not explain why.”

PK Shere, attorney for Parker’s, provided the following statement to Court TV after today’s ruling:

“The continuing media blitz surrounding the Murdaughs is why Parker’s should be severed from Alex Murdaugh, who was convicted of murdering his wife and son. Alex Murdaugh’s murder trial was one of the most ‘reactionary and publicized proceedings in the history of the South Carolina judiciary and legal system.’ Being tethered to a convicted murderer — the most notorious criminal defendant in the last fifty years — leaves Parker’s potentially bearing the brunt of a punitive verdict through joint and several liability. We simply asked for fairness, for Parker’s to be tried separately from a convicted murderer. While we are disappointed in the judge’s ruling today, we look forward to presenting our case at trial next month.”