COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) — A South Carolina judge has set a bond for Alex Murdaugh at $7 million for the variety of financial crimes he is facing.
Judge Alison Lee said she had “concerns” about the influence the embattled former lawyer held even now in the community as well as the issues surrounding his alleged opiate addiction and mental health after the murders of his wife and son.
The bond she set was even higher than the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office asked for. They requested at least $4.8 million in bond, $100,000 for each one of the 48 felony charges Murdaugh currently faces.
If he is able to post all $7 million, he would be allowed to go to a rehab facility in the state of South Carolina only, and be under a strict monitoring program.
Murdaugh himself spoke for the first time since his arrest and since additional charges were levied last week.
“My head is on straighter. I am thinking clearer than I have in a long long time.” he told the Judge.
He said this is the longest stretch in 20 years that he has been sober. His attempt to have someone kill him on Sept. 4 came just after he told his brother and other associates about his addiction issues and even then he was in the throes of withdrawals. He does not believe he is now a danger to himself or anyone else and he wants to make amends to his family and the others that he has hurt.
His lawyers say Alex has agreed to a potential settlement with the Satterfield family on his own behalf for $4.3 million dollars. That is just pending court approval.
Murdaugh continued with his tearful statement about the fact September 4, the day he allegedly asked Curtis Smith to kill him so his son Buster could get the insurance money, was a “dark day”. He was still detoxing, and mourning the loss of his wife Maggie and son Paul, shot and killed just three months earlier at their Colleton County property. He said now that he is sober, he wants to be there for his son and wants to deal with everything he has to.
Dick Harpootlian, Murdaugh’s attorney said during the hearing that all of Alex Murdaugh’s victims have been “made whole” in this case but two. One of those they cannot find, the other has a medical lien that must be dealt with.
Harpootlian continued, saying the circumstances are far less because all the victims have been made whole, and Alex’s mental status is much better than it was in September. It would be best for him to be allowed to continue treatment outside of prison.
The South Carolina Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting the case, said it did not oppose bond, but believed that it should be a high number, because of the influence Alex holds in the community, even now. As well as his mental state.
“When you have someone like this who is at the height of power and influence and prestige, and then falls from grace. That makes them particularly unhinged and I think that’s what we are seeing.”
The Ag’s office asked for a $4.7 million bond, $100,000 for each of the 47 felony charges he faces.
Judge Lee said despite the requests from the defense, she was concerned about his contacts in the community and the individuals who may want to support him financially.
“He is innocent until proven guilty at a trial and that has not occurred. but I do give some considerations to the allegations and the impact. and I feel it is appropriate to do so,” said Judge Lee.
Harpootlian immediately asked her to reconsider the bond. Judge lee said she would not at this time, but would in the future.
Ronnie Richter and Eric Bland, attorneys for the Satterfield family released this statement after the hearing.
Upon entering into this litigation, the Satterfield family had only questions. At the heart of the matter was one simple question: What happened? What happened to Gloria? What happened to the promises of help from those that they trusted? What happened to the money? As painful as it has been to learn the truth, the Satterfield family has its answers. As the players in this sad tragedy have one by one sought to make their amends, there has remained the Alex Murdaugh piece of the puzzle that has required atonement. The family is pleased that Mr. Murdaugh has finally expressed his apologies and has taken a positive step toward resolution by agreeing to confess judgment to Gloria’s sons. As devout Christians, the Satterfield family is guided by their belief that in order for them to be forgiven by their heavenly Father, they in turn must forgive others who have sinned against them. But forgiveness, like faith, is not always easy and the family prays for God’s grace to unburden their hearts of the weight created by Alex Murdaugh. As for earthly justice, the family remains committed to the criminal process, but will leave and entrust Mr. Murdaugh’s fate to the State of South Carolina, to this Honorable Court and to a future jury who will pass judgment on his crimes. The family will continue to seek accountability from the Bank of America and others who may have facilitated Mr. Murdaugh, as they also try to return to the quiet lives that they so enjoyed before these events thrusted them uncomfortably into the spotlight. To be certain, the family is exhausted, but resolute. For those who have reached out and upheld the family through kind words, thoughts and prayers, the Satterfields are humbled and grateful.Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter
This is a breaking news update. The previous story follows.
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(WSPA/AP) — Alex Murdaugh will have a bond hearing Monday morning.
A prominent South Carolina attorney whose wife and son were gunned down six months ago in unsolved killings was indicted Thursday on 21 more charges that he stole settlement and other money from clients.
When combined with previous charges from the state grand jury, Murdaugh now faces nearly 50 counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; computer crimes; money laundering and forgery. State prosecutors said he has stolen more than $6.2 million. He also faces a few other charges after police said he tried to fake his own death.
The latest indictments handed up Thursday against Alex Murdaugh include seven more alleged schemes between 2016 and 2020 where the attorney told clients their settlements were smaller than expected or they had to pay extra fees for things like accident reconstruction, according to court records.
Murdaugh, 53, then sent that portion of the settlement money to a fake account he created, prosecutors said.
This set of indictments said Murdaugh stole nearly $1.4 million.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were prosecutors in tiny Hampton County, where every road leading to the county seat is two lanes. The family also founded what has become a giant private law firm with dozens of attorneys known for suing railroads and getting injury claims for workers.
Murdaugh’s legal troubles began after his wife, Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, were found shot to death at the family’s estate in June. No one has been charged in their deaths and Murdaugh’s lawyers said he has denied having anything to do with their killings. They didn’t immediately comment on the latest financial charges.
In one indictment Thursday, prosecutors said Murdaugh told the representative of a dead woman’s estate he only recovered $30,000, but since the award was so small, he would waive his lawyer fee. Instead, Murdaugh recovered more than $180,000 and wrote a check to his bank account for the more than $150,000 difference, the indictment said.
In another case, Murdaugh told a family friend $85,000 of a settlement had to be set aside for a “medical insurance lien” and then sent that money to himself, according to the indictment.
Murdaugh has been held without bond for more than seven weeks — a judge said it was for the defendant’s own safety after his arrest on charges he stole $3.4 million in insurance money meant for the sons of his housekeeper Gloria Satterfield. She died after a fall at one of the family’s homes in 2018. Murdaugh’s lawyers are appealing the no bond decision to the state Supreme Court.
Murdaugh will be in court again Friday for a virtual bond hearing on 27 indictments from nearly three weeks ago. Prosecutors said the charges include taking $125,000 from a settlement for a state trooper injured on duty.
Murdaugh also is charged in what investigators said was an attempt to have himself shot and killed so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy. All the charges against Murdaugh are felonies and he could face hundreds of years in prison if convicted of all of them.
All the charges involve a fraudulent bank account Murdaugh created with a name similar to a company that handles legal settlements, according to investigators. Murdaugh used the money to pay bank overdraft fees, credit card payments, checks written to friends and family and other items, according to the indictments.