Alex Murdaugh’s attorney makes bizarre – chicken-related – Twitter return after dressing down from judge

Alex Murdaugh’s attorney has made a bizarre – and chicken-related – return to Twitter after he received a dressing down from the judge for his social media posts during the high-profile murder trial.

On Saturday, defence attorney Jim Griffin tweeted a photo of himself with his face in a wooden cut-out photo prop of a cowboy riding a chicken.

“Walterboro, you were a gracious host. Happy Trails,” he wrote.

The bizarre post marked his first since 18 February, when a tweet landed him in hot water with Judge Clifton Newman.

That Saturday – in the midst of Murdaugh’s trial for the murders of wife Maggie and son Paul – Mr Griffin shared a link to a The Washington Post op-ed titled: “Alex Murdaugh trial reveals a sloppy investigation.”

Judge Newman brought up the post in the courtroom the following Monday, saying that the attorney’s actions go “against the spirit of the law and does not pass the feel test” and comparing him to NBA star Kyrie Irving.

The judge said that he had received emails “concerning a social media post by Mr Griffin commenting on witness testimony and the quality of the investigation by the state”.

“Mr Griffin is this part of your defence strategy?” the judge asked, eliciting a laugh from the gallery and an awkward pause from the attorney.

“Your honour, all I did was retweet an article that was published in The Washington Post. I didn’t put any comment or make any statement. I just retweeted an article that was in the newspaper,” Mr Griffin responded.

At that point, the judge compared Mr Griffin to Irving who was suspended from the Brooklyn Nets last year for retweeting an antisemitic post.

“We had a professional basketball player who retweeted an article that resulted in him being suspended from the NBA for about 10 days and cost him about $10m in salary, so retweeting is the same as – to some – as if [it’s] your tweet,” he said.

Irving was embroiled in controversy in late October when he tweeted a link to Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, a documentary which peddles several antisemitic conspiracy theories and falsehoods. The post sparked an instant backlash and he was suspended without pay from the Nets.

After making the comparison, the judge then elicited some laughs when he said he was “not a Twitter friend” of Mr Griffin’s but had still come across the post.

Judge Newman told Mr Griffin that his actions do “not pass the feel test”.

Mr Griffin had conceded that he would not tweet again – about the case or at all – until the trial was over.

That day came on Thursday when the jury convicted Murdaugh of murdering his wife and son on the family’s Moselle property back on 7 June 2021.

Murdaugh, 54, was then sentenced by Judge Newman to life in prison the following day – and Mr Griffin shared the lighthearted tweet on Saturday.

Mr Griffin’s choice of photo for his return to the social media platform is perhaps more unusual given the prominent role that a chicken played in his client’s conviction.

Key to the prosecution’s case was a damning cellphone video that Paul captured just minutes before he and his mother were brutally killed.

In the video, taken at 8.44pm on the night of 7 June, the 22-year-old was filming his friend’s brown labrador in the dog kennels on the family’s 1,700 acre estate.

Off-camera, three distinct voices can be heard: Paul, Maggie and Alex Murdaugh.

Maggie is heard shouting that their dog Bubba had caught a chicken in its mouth. Murdaugh is then heard shouting at the dog.

The video destroyed Murdaugh’s alibi, placing him at the scene of the murders and proving that he had lied about when he last saw his wife and son alive.

Jurors continued to hear repeated references to Bubba and the chicken during the murder trial – with Murdaugh claiming the dog often caught chickens.

He also claimed that he quickly retrieved the chicken from the dog’s mouth – with the bird killed in the incident – and then left the scene when his wife and son were still alive.

Jurors didn’t believe his version of events though, instead determining beyond reasonable doubt that Murdaugh took two guns and killed his family members minutes after the video was taken.

Alex Murdaugh led into Colleton County Courthouse on Friday for his sentencing (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Alex Murdaugh led into Colleton County Courthouse on Friday for his sentencing (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Paul was shot twice with a 12-gauge shotgun while he stood in the feed room of the dog kennels – the second shot to his head blowing his brain almost entirely out of his skull.

Maggie was shot five times with a .300 Blackout semiautomatic rifle including twice in the head after she had fallen to her knees.

It took less than three hours for jurors to return a unanimous verdict of guilty.

Murdaugh’s conviction has now shone a spotlight on some other mystery deaths tied to the South Carolina legal dynasty.

Days on from the murders, an investigation was reopened into the 2015 death of Stephen Smith, who was found dead in the middle of the road in Hampton County.

The openly gay 19-year-old had suffered blunt force trauma to the head and his death was officially ruled a hit-and-run. But the victim’s family have long doubted this version of events, with the Murdaugh name cropping up in several police tips and community rumours.

An investigation was also reopened into another mystery death connected to the Murdaugh family – that of their longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.

She died in 2018 in a mystery trip and fall accident at the family home. Murdaugh then allegedly stole around $4m in a wrongful death settlement from her sons.

Murdaugh is now also facing around 100 charges over a multi-million-dollar fraud scheme and a bizarre botched hitman plot.