Mandy Matney, who has closely tracked Murdaugh’s case for her podcast, screenshotted the moment and was incredulous on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
“WOW.... this is @RepRutherford — who works for the PEOPLE OF SC — STANDING UP TO GREET murderer Alex Murdaugh in court today,” she wrote.
“These people are unreal. They don’t even hide their gross alliances. VOTE THEM OUT.”
Democrat Todd Rutherford, who represents South Carolina House District 74, and is the leader of the party in that chamber, stood, smiled and warmly shook the hand of Murdaugh.
Murdaugh was handcuffed with his wrists shackled to his belt for his court appearance.
X users described the interaction between Murdaugh and Rep Rutherford as “appalling”, “wrong”, “disgraceful”, and “disgusting behaviour”.
One user posted: “Makes you wonder if Murdaugh has dirt on these people.”
WOW.... this is @RepRutherford — who works for the PEOPLE OF SC — STANDING UP TO GREET murderer Alex Murdaugh in court today.— Mandy Matney (@MandyMatney) September 14, 2023
These people are unreal. They don't even hide their gross alliances.
VOTE THEM OUT. pic.twitter.com/oL7ZsrPQXV
Another said: “I don’t understand what’s happening here. Greeting evil with a smile and handshake? Sick.”
“That will make a great campaign [ad] for whoever does run against him!” read one comment.
Murdaugh was in court to answer charges that he allegedly stole insurance payments meant for the family of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at his property in 2018.
Former Palmetto State Bank CEO Russell Laffitte and former attorney Cory Fleming – both former friends of Murdaugh’s and alleged co-conspirators in his financial crimes – are also due in court on the same day.
Laffitte – who was convicted of federal charges in November – is also appearing for a status conference in his state case and is being represented by Mr Rutherford.
Fleming is expected to be sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to 23 counts, which included conspiring and working with Murdaugh to steal from clients and friends.
Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murders of his wife Maggie and son Paul earlier this year.
He is facing more than 100 state and federal charges over his alleged financial crimes – many of which he admitted to on the witness stand at his murder trial.
The hearing on Thursday focused on the state charges. A court hearing on the federal charges is scheduled for 21 September.
Murdaugh previously agreed to plead guilty to federal charges he stole millions of dollars from clients, according to court records.
The court appearance comes just over a week after Murdaugh’s defence attorneys filed a bombshell motion requesting a new trial based on allegations of inappropriate behaviour by Colleton County Clerk of Court Rebecca Hill.