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Alex Murdaugh's attorneys claim that a mention of Joran van der Sloot by an FBI agent during a polygraph test led to the test being unsuccessful

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh said an FBI agent conducting a polygraph test that the agency said the convicted killer failed asked strange questions and revealed he had just examined the notorious Dutch killer of an Alabama teen,

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Attorneys representing Alex Murdaugh stated that during a polygraph test conducted by an FBI agent, strange questions were asked, and the agent disclosed that he had recently examined the notorious Dutch murderer of an Alabama teenager, which affected the test results.

The mention of Joran van der Sloot in court documents on Thursday is the latest unusual development in the case of Murdaugh, a disbarred lawyer serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife and son. Murdaugh vehemently denies the killings, but admits to embezzling millions due to a severe drug addiction.

Disagreements about the polygraph test are being presented in conflicting court documents ahead of Murdaugh's scheduled sentencing on Monday for the embezzlement in federal court.

Prosecutors argued in court documents filed on Tuesday that their agreement for Murdaugh to serve a federal sentence concurrently with his state sentence should be revoked because the polygraph indicated that Murdaugh was deceitful about the whereabouts of over $6 million he stole and whether another unidentified attorney assisted him in the theft from clients and his law firm.

In response, Murdaugh's attorneys included court papers from state prosecutors in his murder case who opposed the defense's use of polygraph results showing that a friend of Murdaugh failed his own test when questioned about involvement in the killings of Murdaugh's wife and son.

According to defense lawyers, the accuracy of the Murdaugh's polygraph results was compromised by the FBI examiner, who, just before the test, asked Murdaugh if he could keep a secret and then mentioned testing van der Sloot in Alabama, who confessed to the 2005 killing of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

The examiner also expressed belief in Murdaugh's innocence and asked him a confusing question about hidden assets, as per the defense's account.

“There are valid concerns about whether the government deliberately manipulated the results to invalidate the plea agreement and fulfill the prosecutors' stated aim of 'ensuring that he’s never a free man again',’” defense lawyers Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian stated.

Murdaugh's attorneys mentioned that they may have more objections to the polygraph test, but they only became aware of the prosecution's allegations on Tuesday and haven't had the opportunity to have their expert review the results. They are urging the sentencing judge on Monday to overlook the results.

After Murdaugh's brief, a pre-sentencing motion filed by prosecutors did not address the defense's arguments. This issue will probably be discussed at Monday's sentencing.

The pre-sentencing report recommends a prison sentence of 17 1/2 to nearly 22 years for Murdaugh on the federal charges.

Murdaugh, 55, is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in state prison after being found guilty of murdering his wife and younger son. He later admitted to embezzling funds from clients and his law firm in state court and received a 27-year sentence, which South Carolina prosecutors stated is a precaution to keep him incarcerated if his murder conviction is ever overturned.

The federal case was supposed to provide additional insurance, with Murdaugh agreeing to a plea deal so that his federal sentence would run concurrently with his state sentences.

Prosecutors now seek the harshest possible sentence for Murdaugh since the plea agreement was violated and want him to serve his federal sentence after completing any state sentences.

Each of the 22 charges Murdaugh admitted to in federal court carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. Some carry a 30-year maximum.

Prosecutors also want to keep private four statements, including the polygraph test, that Murdaugh provided to the FBI.

Investigators believe Murdaugh is trying to protect a lawyer who helped him steal and that his claim that over $6 million of the stolen money went to his drug habit is false. Releasing the statements could harm an ongoing investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Murdaugh’s lawyers want the statements released with agents redacting any information they don’t want to make public while leaving most of the statements available for people to assess the allegations themselves.

State prosecutors estimated that Murdaugh embezzled more than $12 million from clients by redirecting settlement money into his own accounts or stealing from his family law firm.

Investigators said that as Murdaugh’s financial schemes were about to be exposed in June 2021, he decided to kill his wife and son in hopes it would make him a sympathetic figure and draw attention away from the missing money. Paul Murdaugh was shot multiple times with a shotgun and Maggie Murdaugh was shot multiple times with a rifle outside the family’s home in Colleton County.

Murdaugh has vehemently denied killing them, even testifying in his own defense against his lawyers’ advice.

Federal prosecutors said Murdaugh did appear to tell the truth about the roles banker Russell Laffitte and attorney and old college friend Cory Fleming played in helping him steal.

Laffitte was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison, while Fleming is serving nearly four years behind bars after pleading guilty.

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