The 20-year-old man facing three felony counts of boating under the influence in a crash that killed Mallory Beach has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Paul Murdaugh was charged after a Murdaugh family boat crashed into a bridge near Parris Island, S.C. Mallory Beach fell overboard, and her body was found five days later.
Shortly after the February incident, local law enforcement described the five other occupants of the boat as being “grossly intoxicated.” All were under legal drinking age at the time of the incident. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources took over the investigation because it was a waterborne accident. The department’s responding officers failed to the test the sobriety of the two people believed to be driving the boat when it crashed.
TheState.com reported that sobriety tests were never conducted because Paul Murdaugh’s grandfather and father showed up, telling officers they were lawyers, and stopped all interviews and sobriety tests. The case has had notoriety in South Carolina because the Murdaugh family has several generations of attorneys with longtime connections to the local prosecutor’s office.
Beach’s parents also filed a wrongful death suit in the case against local businesses, as well as members of the Murdaugh family.
Judge Steven John of the 15th Judicial Circuit granted Paul Murdaugh’s request that Murdaugh be released on his own recognizance, a decision one of the attorneys called standard, according to local media. Others in the community have complained that Murduagh is being given special treatment. Murdaugh surrendered his passport and cannot leave the 14th Judicial Circuit where the accident happened. His trial date had not been set by press time.