Lawyer Murdaugh exits jail after $10M insurance fraud arrest

Southeast

HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (NewsNation Now) — A prominent South Carolina lawyer was in tears as his own attorney detailed the spiral his life has taken since he found his wife and son dead. Alex Murdaugh turned himself Thursday in to face charges in a plot to arrange his own death that ended with the shooter only grazing him in the head, his defense attorneys said.

Murdaugh surrendered to police where he spent about five hours in the Hampton County jail before being issued a $20,000 bond and being released. He was also ordered to surrender his passport.

Prosecutors had asked for a higher bond and GPS monitoring.

Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. Murdaugh surrendered Thursday to face insurance fraud and other charges after state police said he arranged to have himself shot in the head so that his son would get a $10 million life insurance payout. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

Murdaugh’s attorneys say he will return to an out-of-state rehab facility where he is seeking treatment. He is not allowed to leave that facility or he will face jail time, according to the judge.

The charges are connected to insurance fraud, Murdaugh’s attorney Jim Griffin said. Murdaugh asked a previous client whom he was buying drugs from to kill him with a shot to the head on Sept. 4 so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy, authorities said.

The shooting came just days after Murdaugh resigned from his law firm over accusations of misallocating millions of dollars in funds, which Murdaugh vowed to repay to the firm. He also announced that he would be entering rehab for an opioid addiction.

Prosecutors say the shooter was Curtis Edward Smith. He was charged with assisted suicide, insurance fraud and several other counts in the shooting of Murdaugh on a lonely highway in Hampton County, the State Law Enforcement Division said in a statement.

Smith was given a $55,000 bond at a court appearance on Thursday. A hearing is set for Oct. 25.

Court records, obtained by NewsNation affiliate WCBD, detail a history between the Murdaughs and Curtis Smith. Alex Murdaugh and his late father, former 14th Circuit Solicitor Randolph Murdaugh III, represented Smith in a personal injury lawsuit case back in 2010. Alex Murdaugh later represented Smith in 2013 for a traffic violation case.

This culminates a tumultuous 36 hours which saw someone arrested on assisted suicide, insurance fraud and other charges for shooting him in the head, then state police open a sixth investigation into him and his family — this time over the death of a housekeeper and nanny who died in his home.

The woman’s death certificate said she died from natural causes and it wasn’t reported to the Hampton County coroner. But a wrongful death settlement for $500,000 said she was killed in a slip-and-fall at Murdaugh’s home.

Still unsolved are the June 7 killings of 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh and her 22-year-old son Paul Murdaugh. Alex Murdaugh discovered the bodies of his wife and son at their Colleton County home. Both had been shot multiple times.

Along with the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh and the shooting of Alex Murdaugh, the State Law Enforcement Division is also investigating the missing money, whether anyone tried to obstruct an investigation into a 2019 boat crash in which Paul Murdaugh was eventually charged and a July 2015 hit-and-run death in Hampton County.

Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all held the office of solicitor in the area for more than 80 years and other family members were prominent civil attorneys in the region. Murdaugh himself was an authorized volunteer prosecutor supporting his father’s cases, a relationship the office severed this month.

NewsNation affiliate WCBD and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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