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Alex Murdaugh “fell out of favor”, lawyer says, three months after wife and son were killed


First, Murdaugh’s wife and son were shot and killed in June, which sparked an investigation that has yet to be clarified. Murdaugh, who called 911 on June 7 and reported he had found their bodies, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), denied responsibility for their deaths.

According to Murdaugh’s attorney, Dick Harpootlian, the deaths of his wife, Margaret, and son, Paul, exacerbated an opioid addiction that put Murdaugh in dire financial straits, leading him to hire a former client to kill him earlier this month so his surviving son could collect around $ 10 million in life insurance.

Murdaugh survived the shooting. He surrendered and was arrested Thursday and charged with insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report. He was released on $ 20,000 bail and is undergoing treatment at an out-of-state rehabilitation center, his lawyers said.
The day before the shooting, Murdaugh resigned from his law firm after discovering he had “embezzled funds,” the firm said in a statement. SLED has opened an investigation based on these allegations.
Separately, the inquest into the deaths of Margaret and Paul Murdaugh prompted SLED to open investigations into two other deaths in recent years: those of Stephen Smith, 19, whose body was found on a road in Hampton County in 2015, and Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh family housekeeper for over two decades.

It all merged into a veritable criminal saga that gripped the country and the southern region of Palmetto State, where three generations of Murdaughs served as the 14th Circuit Lawyer for 87 consecutive years.

“Alex Murdaugh has spent his entire life in this county,” Harpootlian said Thursday at Murdaugh’s bail hearing, arguing that his client would not pose a flight risk if released. He said of his client at one point: “As a result of recent events, he is no longer a man of large means.

Before his disgrace, “Murdaugh’s wife and son were brutally murdered,” Harpootlian said as Murdaugh appeared to wipe tears from under his glasses. “And it had an amazing effect on him. We therefore ask you to allow him to go and help him to be treated.

The shooting plot

Murdaugh’s arrest came after court documents indicated he admitted he conspired with a man – identified as Curtis Edward Smith – to kill him as part of the fraud scheme.

Murdaugh called 911 on September 4 and reported he was shot on a road in Hampton County, according to SLED. Authorities initially described Murdaugh’s injury as a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” although Murdaugh’s lawyers said his skull was fractured.

An affidavit says Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a gun and ordered him to shoot him in the head. Smith admitted on Tuesday that he was present during the shooting and disposed of the gun afterward, the affidavit states.

Alex Murdaugh “fell out of favor”, lawyer says, three months after wife and son were killed
Harpootlian acknowledged the ploy in an interview with NBC’s “Today Show” this week, saying Murdaugh “knew what he had done was wrong.”

Murdaugh had decided to end his life but believed his life insurance policy had a suicide exclusion, Harpootlian told NBC. The plan “was an attempt on his part to do something to protect” his only living son.

Smith, 61, has been charged with assisted suicide, aggravated and aggravated assault and battery, robbery and display of a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy in view to commit insurance fraud, SLED said.

Hampton County Examining Magistrate Tonja Alexander on Thursday set Smith’s bail at $ 55,000. When asked if he was interested in a public defender, Smith replied, “I’m probably going to watch one, yes,” adding that he would probably apply early next week.

Alex Murdaugh “fell out of favor”, lawyer says, three months after wife and son were killed

Murdaugh’s housekeeper family “considered him family”, lawyer says

Eric Bland, an attorney for the Satterfield estate, dismissed Harpootlian’s comments on Thursday, calling them a “lawyer’s trick” and saying Murdaugh’s attorneys “present a defense that does not exist.”

SLED announced Wednesday that it is opening a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s death based on a request from the Hampton County Coroner highlighting inconsistencies in the decision of his death, along with other information gathered during the ‘other investigations involving Murdaugh.

CNN has contacted Murdaugh’s attorneys for comment.

Alex Murdaugh “fell out of favor”, lawyer says, three months after wife and son were killed

Bland said Satterfield, who worked for the Murdaughs for 25 years, died in what has been described as a “trip and fall” accident at the Murdaugh’s home in 2018.

But in its request to SLED, the coroner’s office wrote that Satterfield’s death had “not been reported to the coroner at the time, and no autopsy was performed.” His death certificate says the mode of death was “natural”, which the coroner said was “inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip-and-fall accident.”

Satterfield’s sons have also sued Murdaugh and several others, with Bland alleging Thursday that Murdaugh embezzled millions of family settlements after Murdaugh helped them file a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit says that after Satterfield’s death, Murdaugh introduced his sons to another lawyer – a friend of Murdaugh’s, the lawsuit says – to press charges against him.

“Our clients had tremendous confidence in Murdaugh. They saw him as family,” Bland told CNN’s Erin Burnett Thrusday.

But according to the lawsuit, despite a civil settlement, Satterfield’s sons never received any money.

“It’s a shame we’re going to get to the bottom of this, and we have no sympathy or pity for Alex Murdaugh,” Bland said.

CNN’s Martin Savidge, Eric Levenson, Amanda Watts, Gregory Lemos, Melissa Alonso, Caroline Kenny and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.