Murdaugh updates Thursday: New court docs prompt questions about 2019 Beaufort boat crash

·3 min read

Hundreds of pages of new court documents filed in a civil petition in Richland County on Thursday provide some insight and prompt more questions about the investigation of the 2019 boat crash that killed 19-year-old Mallory Beach.

The case, which garnered national attention at the time, came back into the public eye last month after Paul Murdaugh was shot to death outside his Colleton County home along with his mother, Maggie. Paul was awaiting trial on three felony boating under the influence charges stemming from the crash.

THE ‘CIVIL CONSPIRACY’ PETITION

Connor Cook, a passenger on the boat, filed a petition Thursday saying he believes some law enforcement officers may know about intentions to hamper the 2019 boat crash investigation and shift blame away from Paul Murdaugh. Cook broke his jaw in the crash and was one of the two boaters police investigated as the possible driver.

Cook believes some evidence gathered at the boat crash scene is missing, and his lawyers want to question the officers about failing to conduct an appropriate investigation, according to the petition.

Read more about the filing here: Passenger claims ‘civil conspiracy’ in boat crash investigation involving Murdaugh

- Lana Ferguson, Kacen Bayless

TOP THINGS TO KNOW FROM THE FILINGS

The depositions filed Thursday were mostly from law enforcement officers who were among the first to respond to the scene.

Among the issues raised in the officers’ sworn testimony: Why was one officer removed from the investigation? What was the heated exchange between two of the boaters the night of the crash?

Read more highlights from the filings here: 6 things to know from new court documents filed on the 2019 deadly Beaufort boat crash

- Lana Ferguson

MISSTEPS BY LAW ENFORCEMENT

Four law enforcement officers who responded to the boat crash described several inconsistencies and deviations from common police practices in their investigation, the new court documents show.

The depositions outlined decisions and inaction, whether intentional or by oversight, that appear contrary to investigative protocol.

“They show some serious issues,” said Mark Tinsley, the attorney for Mallory Beach’s mother. “Somebody in law enforcement with authority needs to look into this.”

Read more about the law enforcement inconsistencies here: Series of irregularities apparent in 2019 boat crash investigation, new depositions show

- Lana Ferguson, Kacen Bayless

Family members of Mallory Beach waited near Archers Creek as crews continued to search for the teen on Monday afternoon, who went missing following an early morning boat crash on Sunday.
Family members of Mallory Beach waited near Archers Creek as crews continued to search for the teen on Monday afternoon, who went missing following an early morning boat crash on Sunday.

WHO WAS DRIVING THE BOAT?

From the outside looking in, the public wondered why it took police two months to charge someone with driving the boat in the 2019 crash, but the new court documents show investigators were initially given conflicting statements.

One person on the boat said Paul Murdaugh was driving; a second passenger said Connor Cook was the driver.

Murdaugh denied it. Cook told an officer he didn’t know who was driving the boat.

Murdaugh would later be indicted on three felony boating under the influence charges. He pleaded not guilty. Cook was never charged in the crash.

Read more about the investigation into who was driving here: Who was driving the Murdaugh boat that killed Mallory Beach in 2019?

- Lana Ferguson, Jake Shore

Paul Terry Murdaugh prepares to leave the Beaufort County Courthouse on Monday after having his bond modified for the three felony charges he faces for the Feb. 24 boat crash which killed Mallory Beach. Murdaugh’s defense attorney Jim Griffin asked judge Michael G. Nettles to allow Murdaugh to travel within the state. Nettles ruled that Murdaugh may travel within the state with no other modifications. The state had asked for GPS monitoring as well as alcohol monitoring which was not a condition set by Nettles.
Paul Terry Murdaugh prepares to leave the Beaufort County Courthouse on Monday after having his bond modified for the three felony charges he faces for the Feb. 24 boat crash which killed Mallory Beach. Murdaugh’s defense attorney Jim Griffin asked judge Michael G. Nettles to allow Murdaugh to travel within the state. Nettles ruled that Murdaugh may travel within the state with no other modifications. The state had asked for GPS monitoring as well as alcohol monitoring which was not a condition set by Nettles.

WHAT’S HAPPENED BETWEEN 2019 AND NOW?

It’s been more than two years since the boat crash that killed Mallory Beach. New information about the crash has been released in waves. Still pending: the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Beach’s mother, Renee Beach. Still unsolved: the two Murdaugh murders, which changed the course of the criminal investigation of the crash.

Read a detailed timeline of events here: From the fatal SC boat crash to a double homicide: A timeline of Beach and Murdaugh deaths

Paul Murdaugh, left, was charged in the boat-crash death of Mallory Beach in news that rocked the South Carolina Lowcountry in 2019.
Paul Murdaugh, left, was charged in the boat-crash death of Mallory Beach in news that rocked the South Carolina Lowcountry in 2019.

Follow our previous coverage here.