The former CEO of Palmetto State Bank and notorious accomplice of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh, 54, has put in a fresh bid to a new trial citing his murderous friend's court testimony which he says vindicates him of his crimes.
Russell Laffitte, 51, was convicted November 2022 on six financial crime charges related to a decades-long corruption scheme led by Murdaugh in which hundreds-of-thousands of dollars were laundered from clients.
The 51-year-old was denied a new trial by a South Carolina judge on March 6 but said testimony from Murdaugh's trial – in which he was convicted of the brutal slaying of his wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22 - should be considered.
The appeal comes in the wake of Murdaugh's six-week trial starting January 25 in which the father-of-two was found guilty of the double slaying - which took place at his hunting estate, Moselle, in Islandton, on June 7, 2021.
Former CEO of Palmetto State Bank, Russell Laffitte, and notorious accomplice of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh, 54, has put in a fresh bid to a new trial citing his murderous friend's court testimony in which the 51-year-old was vindicated of his crimes
'On February 23, 2023, Mr. Murdaugh explicitly stated, for the first time in sworn testimony, that he did not participate in a conspiracy with Mr. Lafitte because Mr. Lafitte did not participate in the financial crimes,' the new motion states.
'Mr. Murdaugh took full responsibility for his own actions and testified that Mr. Laffitte did nothing wrong and did not have any knowledge of Mr. Murdaugh's criminal activity.'
Prosecutors said Murdaugh killed his wife and son to divert attention from his 99 financial crimes charges stemming from 19 separate indictments and totaling nearly $9 million.
He was accused of embezzling money from his family's generations-old personal injury law firm and its clients - while Laffitte is said to have stolen hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars from six of the former lawyer's clients, federal prosecutors said.
The initial indictment didn't mention Murdaugh by name but said Laffitte collected nearly $392,000 in fees for those six clients of a 'personal injury attorney at a law firm in Hampton, South Carolina,' according to a July press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina.
Laffitte then transferred personal loans to himself and Murdaugh from their accounts, and used the funds for personal expenses, prosecutors said during last year's trial.
The 51-year-old's new motion for a new trial quotes Murdaugh's testimony when he took the witness stand at court while giving testimony in connection to the murder of his wife and son.
'I don't dispute any of this, that I took money that didn't belong to me, that I misled people… that trusted me to do that and that what I did was terrible. I don't dispute that,' Murdaugh said.
'You keep talking about stuff I did with Russell Laffitte, but what I want to let you know is that I did this, and I am the one that took people's money that I shouldn't have taken.
'Russell Laffitte was not involved in helping me do that knowingly. If he did it, he did it without knowing it.'
Laffitte, who was standing trial in November 2022 for several charges of fraud, was found guilty in a Charleston courtroom after more than 11 hours of deliberation and the dismissal of two jurors.
Charges included conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud, and three counts of misapplication of bank funds.
Murdaugh took the stand in his own trial, as he admitted tostealing millions of dollars from the family firm and clients, saying he needed the money to fund his drug habit
Alex Murdaugh with wife Maggie and their sons Buster (left) and Paul (right)
Pictured the Hunting Lodge where Maggie and Paul Murdaugh were killed in Hampton, South Carolina
Murdaugh - who reportedly struggled with a debilitating opioid addiction in the months building up to the murder - was found guilty March 3 andsentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
The disgraced South Carolina legal scion filed a motion to appeal his conviction for the murders of his wife and son last week.
His lawyers filed the motion to appeal his conviction and sentencing as a new mugshot was released showing Murdaugh with his head shaved smiling in yellow prison overalls.
He is now being held in his own cell at theKirkland Reception and Evaluation Center, where he will undergo 45 days of testing, which the South Carolina Department of Corrections carries out on every prisoner to assess where to hold them permanently.
As he is a convicted double murderer, Murdaugh is being housed with the state's most brutal and violent inmates.
Murdaugh's attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin had previously hinted that they would file a notice of appeal within 10 days of his sentencing.
During the trial, jurors heard from more than 75 witnesses and viewed nearly 800 pieces of evidence.
They also heard about Murdaugh's betrayed friends and clients, his failed attempt to stage his own death in an insurance fraud scheme, a fatal crash in which his son was implicated, the housekeeper who died in a fall in the Murdaugh home and the grisly scene of the killings.
Eventually, the lawyer took the stand to admit to stealing millions of dollars from the family firm and clients, saying he needed the money to fund his drug habit.
He also admitted he had lied to investigators about being at the kennels where Maggie and Paul died, saying he was paranoid of law enforcement because he was addicted to opioids and had pills in his pocket the night of the killings.
Prosecutors did not have the weapons used to kill the Murdaughs or other direct evidence like confessions or blood spatter.
A new mugshot released Thursday shows Alex Murdaugh with his head shaved smiling in yellow prison overalls
Buster Murdaugh is seen receiving a hug in the rain during the funeral service for his brother, Paul, and mother, Maggie in 2021
But they had a mountain of circumstantial evidence, including the video putting Murdaugh at the scene of the killings five minutes before his wife and son stopped using their mobile phones forever.
When he gave evidence last week, Murdaugh appeared to cry as he denied again and again that he killed his wife.
But juror Craig Moyersaid he saw through yet another lie.
'He never cried. All he did was blow snot,' Moyer said. 'No tears. I saw his eyes. I was this close to him.'
It took the jury just a few hours to convict him.
At his sentencing last week, Judge Clifton Newman described Murdaugh as a 'monster' who continued to lie even when the evidence was damning.
'This case qualifies under our death penalty statue based on the statutory aggravating circumstances of two or more people being murdered by the defendant by one act or pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct. I don't question at all the decision of the state not to pursue the death penalty.
'But as I sit here in this courtroom and look around at the many portraits of judges and other court officials and reflect on the fact that over the past century, your family, including you, have been prosecuting people here in this courtroom and many have received the death penalty, probably for lesser conduct.
'Remind me of the expression you gave on the witness stand. Oh, what tangled web we weave. What did you mean by that?'
'I meant when I lied, I continued to lie,' Murdaugh replied.
'And the question is when will it end? When will it end? And it has ended already for the jury, because they've concluded that you continue to lie and lied throughout your testimony.
'And perhaps with all the throng of people here, they for the most part all believe or 80, 90 and/or 99 percent believe that you continue to lie now when your statement of denial to the court.'
The life Murdaugh now faces is a far cry from the privileged world of multi-million dollar homes from the coast to the hunting lands of the Lowcountry he is used to.
'As part of the intake process, like all inmates, [Murdaugh] will undergo medical tests, mental health and education assessments, and the South Carolina Department of Corrections will gather other additional background information,' the South Carolina Department of Corrections said in a statement last week.
Kirkland Correctional Center will be Murdaugh's grim new home for the next few weeks as he undergoes evaluation for where to be sent permanently
This undated file photo provided on July 11, 2019, by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows the new death row at Broad River Correctional Institution in Columbia, SC
After the evaluation, Murdaugh will be sent to one of the state's maximum-security prisons to serve out the rest of his life behind bars.
Kirkland is home to more than 1,700 of the most violent criminals in the state and churns through more than 8,000 prisoners each year for evaluation.
As well as serving as the processing site for all of the state's convicts, it is also home to a specialized maximum-security jail for the most dangerous and violent offenders.
Adjacent to the prison is the Broad River Correctional Institution, which houses both high and medium security inmates.