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Murdaugh Accused of Trying to Frame Teen in Fatal Boat Crash

Lawsuit alleges he was trying to protect son
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2021 7:24 PM CDT
Murdaugh Accused of Trying to Frame Teen in Fatal Boat Crash
This photo provided by the Hampton County Detention Center shows Alex Murdaugh.   (Hampton County Detention Center via AP)

(Newser) – Paul Murdaugh's legal troubles ended permanently when the 22-year-old was shot to death along with his mother in June—but father Alex Murdaugh's troubles are only getting deeper. A new lawsuit accuses the prominent South Carolina attorney of trying to frame another teen in a fatal boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh in 2019, NBC reports. The suit from 21-year-old Connor Cook alleges the senior Murdaugh organized a "whisper campaign" to have him held "criminally and civilly responsible" for the crash. It accuses him "misdirecting law enforcement" toward Cook to protect his son.

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Paul Murdaugh was allegedly driving a boat that belonged to his father on Feb. 24, 2019 when it hit a bridge piling at around 2:20am. Passenger Mallory Beach, 19, was flung from the boat and killed. Her family is also suing the Murdaugh family. In Cook's lawsuit, he says he suffered "severe injuries and damages for which he sought medical treatment and continues to suffer today." According to a police report, Paul Murdaugh, then 19, was seen on surveillance footage buying alcohol at a gas station hours before the crash, reports WTOC. A nurse said was "grossly intoxicated and belligerent" when he was taken to a hospital.

According to Cook's lawsuit, Alex Murdaugh told him to "keep his mouth shut" after the crash and not tell law enforcement who was driving, WIS reports. The suit also names Buster Murdaugh, Paul's older brother, for allegedly giving Paul his driver's license to buy alcohol. Cook's suit says Murdaugh told his family to retain Cory Fleming as his attorney, without disclosing that he was a close Murdaugh family friend. Paul Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to felony charges of boating under the influence and was out on bail when he was killed. Nobody has been charged in the deaths of Paul Murdaugh and his mother.

Cook is seeking unspecified compensation in the suit. Alex Murdaugh surrendered to authorities last week on charges including insurance fraud. The 53-year-old was shot in the head earlier this month in what his attorney says was a plan to have himself killed so Buster Murdaugh could collect $10 million in insurance money. Bond was set at $20,000 and he was allowed to return to a drug rehab center for his opioid addiction. (Authorities are now looking at another death with a possible Paul Murdaugh connection.)

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