Alex Murdaugh loses prison phone privileges after lawyer records phone call for documentary

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Convicted murderer Alex Murdaugh has lost his phone privileges and his prison tablet computer after his lawyer recorded him reading his journal entries on a call for a documentary about his case, South Carolina Corrections Department officials said Wednesday.

Prison policy prohibits inmates from talking to the media without permission because the agency “believes that victims of crime should not have to see or hear the person who victimized them or their family member on the news,” state prisons spokeswoman Chrysti Shain said in a statement.

The media interview violation, along with another violation for using a different inmate's password to make a telephone call, are prison discipline issues and not a crime, Shain said.

Murdaugh also lost his ability to buy items in the prison canteen for a month in the discipline hearing held Monday, Shain said.

He will have to get permission from prison officials to get another tablet, which can be used to make monitored phone calls, watch approved entertainment, read books or take video classes.

Murdaugh, 55, is serving a life sentence without parole for killing his wife and younger son. Prosecutors said the now disbarred attorney was worried investigators were about to determine he stole millions from his law firm and clients and was trying to get sympathy and buy more time to cover up the crimes.

Murdaugh adamantly denied the killings both to investigators and on the witness stand.

Murdaugh's lawyer Jim Griffin recorded Murdaugh in June reading entries into a journal he kept during his double murder trial for an upcoming Fox Nation documentary on his case, prison records show.

Prison officials sent Griffin a note saying if he knowingly or unknowingly helps Murdaugh violate rules again, he could lose his ability to talk to his client.

Griffin didn't respond to a message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Phone calls between lawyers and prisoners are not recorded or reviewed because their conversations are considered confidential. But prison officials said they began investigating Murdaugh after a warden reviewing other phone calls heard Murdaugh's voice on a call made in a different inmate's account.

Murdaugh said his phone password was not working. He also told the prison investigators about the recorded journal entries, according to prison records.

Murdaugh is expected to plead guilty on Sept. 21 in federal court to charges that he stole millions of dollars from clients, according to court records. It will be the first time he has admitted to a crime in court.

Murdaugh also faces about 100 charges in state court. Authorities said he stole millions from clients who suffered debilitating injuries and who needed money for medical care. He is charged with stealing from his family’s law firm and helping run a drug ring to launder money. Authorities said he asked a friend to kill him on the side of a lonely highway so his son would get $10 million in life insurance. The shot only grazed Murdaugh’s head.