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A South Carolina man who was mysteriously slain last month alongside his mother this year had consumed three times the legal limit of alcohol in a 2019 boat crash that left one woman dead.
Paul Murdaugh, 22, was facing numerous charges of boating under the influence in the 2019 crash and awaiting trial when he and his mother were shot and killed at his family’s sprawling estate in June.
Mallory Beach, 19, was killed in the 2019 boat accident and her body was found submerged in the water a week after the crash. Murdaugh pleaded not guilty to the charges in May 2019.
According to a new search warrant, the then 20-year-old’s blood alcohol content tested .286% after the crash — more than three times the state’s legal limit of .08%.
Officers didn’t immediately request a field sobriety test from Murdaugh at the time, even though he appeared visibly intoxicated.
Murdaugh’s blood, however, was drawn for medical purposes at a hospital after the boating collision, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Investigators later secured a search warrant for hospital records.
"By the time the first DNR Officer arrived on scene, all occupants of the boat except for Anthony Cook and Mallory Beach had been transported to Beaufort Memorial Hospital,” David Lucas, the department’s spokesperson told Oxygen.com. “There was no opportunity for DNR to administer Field Sobriety Tests (FST) in this case.”
Austin Pritcher, the first department officer to arrive at the crash site, stated he later visited Murdaugh at the hospital and found him slurring his speech. He’d been forcibly strapped to a gurney for acting “out of control,” Fox News reported. A security guard was also stationed outside his room. Pritcher, who didn’t ask Murdaugh to submit to a sobriety test at the hospital, did request one from Connor Cook, another boat passenger, who declined to submit one.
Murdaugh, who was accompanied by his father and grandfather, two powerhouse attorneys whose family’s legal roots stretch back nearly 90 years in South Carolina, later declined to give a police statement.
On June 7, Murdaugh and his mother, Margaret Murdaugh, 52, were found dead at the family's home a sprawling and secluded hunting retreat. They were found with multiple gunshot wounds. Paul Murdaugh’s father, Alex Murdaugh, found the bodies. A Chevrolet Suburban found on the family’s property was also seized as evidence.
No arrests have been made in the double murder. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is overseeing the investigation.
“SLED agents are working tirelessly with our partners to build a case against any person responsible for the murders of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh to ensure that justice is served,” Chief Mark Keel said last month.
Investigators, who have released few details in the case, have speculated that Paul Murdaugh may have been the intended target of the fatal shooting, according to the Island Packet.
The Murdaugh family says the 22-year-old had received threats shortly before his murder last month.
In the weeks since the double murder, authorities have re-opened investigations into other suspicious deaths near the Murdaugh property. In 2015, teenager Stephen Smith’s body was discovered roughly 10 miles from the family’s estate.
Prosecutor Duffie Stone has faced increasing pressure to recuse himself from the case due to his past working relationship with the Murdaughs.
Tommy Crosby, a public information officer for SLED, declined to comment on the ongoing case on Wednesday.
Anyone with information related to the open case is urged to contact SLED’s 24-hour tip line at 803-896-2605.
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