National Roundup

South Carolina
Lawyer whose son and wife were killed has law license suspended

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the law license of prominent attorney Alex Murdaugh on Wednesday, two days after his law firm said he took mone y from the business.

The one-page order by Chief Justice Don Beatty said he acted at the request of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates misconduct by attorneys in South Carolina. The order said Murdaugh agreed with the interim suspension, but it gave no further details.

Murdaugh found the bodies of his wife and son, shot multiple times, at the family's Colleton County home on June 7. On Saturday, he told police someone shot at him as he changed a tire on the side of a rural road. A family attorney has suggested someone cut the tire before Murdaugh left. State police haven't commented on the shooting.

Agents said Murdaugh was grazed by the bullet. He was released from the hospital two days later and said he had gone into rehab because "the murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret."

Hours after Murdaugh issued his statement, the PMPED law firm released its own information saying Murdaugh had misappropriated an unspecified amount of money and would no longer be associated with the firm.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating all of this. No one has been charged in the killings of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her 22-year-old son Paul in June or in the shooting involving Alex Murdaugh on Saturday. Agents have not spoken about the allegations of missing money.

The Murdaughs are one of South Carolina's most prominent legal families. Alex Murdaugh was a volunteer prosecutor in the same office where his father, grandfather and great-grandfather spent more than 80 years combined as the area's top prosecutors. Other members of the family are prominent civil attorneys.

When Paul Murdaugh was killed, he was awaiting trial for boating under the influence causing death in a February 2019 crash that killed a 19-year-old woman. State police have said they have since begun looking into the investigation of that crash to see if anyone tried to keep police from charging Paul Murdaugh.

After the deaths of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, state police also reopened an investigation into a 2015 hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old man in Hampton County. The victim's mother said she thought Paul Murdaugh could have been involved.

Authorities haven't released any information about why those cases were reopened.

$3M deal reached in rough arrest of woman with dementia

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado city has agreed to pay $3 million to a 73-year-old woman with dementia who was roughly arrested by police last year, officials announced Wednesday.

Then-Officer Austin Hopp arrested Karen Garner after she left a store without paying for about $14 worth of items in Loveland, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Denver. Police body camera video  shows that after she turned away from him, he grabbed her arm and pushed her to the ground. A federal lawsuit that Garner filed claimed he dislocated her shoulder by shoving her handcuffed left arm forward onto the hood of a patrol car.

City Manager Steve Adams apologized to Garner and her family in the announcement of the proposed settlement, which was confirmed by Garner's lawyer, Sarah Schielke.

"The settlement with Karen Garner will help bring some closure to an unfortunate event in our community but does not upend the work we have left to do," Adams said.

Garner's lawyer and her family plan to hold a press conference Wednesday to talk about the settlement.

Hopp has been charged with second-degree assault in the arrest. At a court hearing last month to weigh the evidence against him, his lawyer, Jonathan Datz, argued that Hopp's supervisors determined his actions to be acceptable, the Loveland Reporter-Herald reported.

A representative from Datz's office said Wednesday that he declined to comment.

The body camera footage shows that when Hopp has Garner pushed against the hood of his car, she tried to turn around and repeated that she was trying to go home. He then pushed her back against the car and moved her bent left arm up near her head, holding it, saying, "Are you finished? Are you finished? We don't play this game."

Investigators found that Hopp filed reports to mislead his superiors and protect himself, according to his arrest affidavit. He did not mention Garner's shoulder injury in an initial report.

In a report filed after being told that she was going to the hospital, he wrote that Garner was asked several times if she wanted medical attention but that she did not answer, according to the affidavit.

Stepmother gets new trial after conviction in toddler death

PORT GIBSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi woman convicted of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter has been granted a new trial because one of the jurors failed to disclose he is related to the child's mother.

In late January, a Claiborne County jury convicted T'Kia Bevily of capital murder in the October 2017 death of Jurayah Smith. Investigators said the toddler died from blunt-force injuries to her head while in custody of her father and stepmother.

Bevily is in Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. She was sentenced in early February to life in prison without parole, after the district attorney decided not to seek the death penalty.

Bevily's attorneys raised questions about the juror who is related to the victim's mother, and they requested a new trial.

Claiborne County Circuit Judge Tomika Irving filed an order Tuesday to grant Bevily a new trial. Court records show that during jury selection, a man failed to disclose that he is the uncle of the the dead toddler's aunt. He was selected as a juror.

"Giving Juror No. 24 the benefit of doubt, if he did not know that the deceased child was his niece's niece prior to her death, he more than likely learned of such relationship after the child's death by way of living in a small community," Irving wrote.

Jurayah Smith's father, Morris Bevily, is awaiting trial on a capital murder charge.