Murdaugh trial: Maid’s son says he took $4M; gun expert testifies

(NewsNation) — The double-murder trial for disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh resumed on Friday with prosecutors asking the judge to consider allowing testimony from the son of his longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.

Prosecutors asked Judge Clifton Newman to allow jurors to hear from Tony Satterfield, who says Murdaugh promised to take care of them when his mom died in a fall, but kept a $4 million settlement for himself.

Satterfield testified his mom cleaned the Murdaugh home, but also babysat their two sons and did anything else they asked for over 20 years. She died at age 57 a few weeks after hitting her head in a fall in February 2018 on steps at the family’s house.

Murdaugh allegedly promised her family to take care of them and then stole millions in settlements with his insurers.

“Did you ever get one cent from Alex Murdaugh?” prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Friday.

“No,” Satterfield answered.

Satterfield testified that after Murdaugh promised to take care of his housekeeper’s family, the attorney suggested they hire one of his friends — who was also a college roommate and godfather to one of his sons — to be the executor of Satterfield’s mother’s estate.

Satterfield heard little from Murdaugh until they spoke in June 2021. He said Murdaugh told them they were working on a settlement, hopefully by the end of the year. Court records show Murdaugh’s insurers had already paid more than $4 million for the fall.

“Did you give him permission to steal your money?” Waters asked Satterfield.

“No,” he replied.

Defense lawyer Jim Griffin asked only a few questions in cross-examination, but homed in on how Satterfield didn’t know the exact date in June 2021 when the conversation reportedly took place.

Prosecutors are also waiting to hear if the judge will allow them to present evidence of Murdaugh stealing money from clients and his law firm.

Jan Malinowshi, CEO of Palmetto State Bank, testified about Murdaugh’s “desperate” financial condition, the Greenville News reported.

According to the report, the banker said that Murdaugh owed the bank roughly $4.2 million, and his checking account was overdrawn by roughly $347,000.

Prosecutors are seeking to have this testimony admitted to bolster their premise that Murdaugh killed his family to gain sympathy and buy time because his thefts and massive debts were about to be discovered.

Newman hasn’t ruled yet on how much if any of the financial crimes evidence he will allow jurors to hear, including explosive allegations on Thursday from Jeanne Seckinger, Murdaugh’s longtime friend and the firm’s chief financial officer.

Seckinger bluntly outlined years of Murdaugh’s financial swindling from his former law firm and his clients, saying the firm uncovered Murdaugh’s alleged scheme dating back to 2011. She testified that Murdaugh sometimes kept entire fees required by rules to be shared with the firm.

Prosecutors said the testimony speaks to Murdaugh’s state of mind when hours later he allegedly killed his wife, Maggie, and son, Paul.

The jury returned to the courtroom late Friday morning to hear from a state agent who examined fingerprints, and a firearms expert.

The Greenville News reported State Law Enforcement Division Firearms Examiner Paul Greer testified that several rifle cartridges and shotgun shells found at the murder scene matched ammunition found elsewhere on the Murdaugh property, including the family’s shooting range.

Along with the two murder charges, Murdaugh faces about 100 more counts, with most of the charges coming before his murder indictment in July 2022.

The accusations range from money laundering to stealing millions from clients and the family law firm, tax evasion and trying to get a man to fatally shoot him so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.

He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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