SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The attorneys for Alex Murdaugh spoke out Wednesday morning regarding Tuesday’s arrest in the shooting of the Lowcountry lawyer and claims from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) that Murdaugh orchestrated the shooting.
Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin released a statement saying Murdaugh was taken advantage of, citing his opioid addiction and mental illness.
Harpootlian also spoke on NBC’s Today in a live interview.
On September 4, it became clear Alex believed that ending his life was his only option. Today, he knows that’s not true. For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids. During that time, these individuals took advantage of his addiction and his ability to pay substantial funds for illegal drugs. One of those individuals took advantage of his mental illness and agreed to take Alex’s life, by shooting him in the head. Fortunately, Alex was not killed by the gunshot wound. Alex is fully cooperating with SLED in their investigations into his shooting, opioid use and the search to find the person or people responsible for the murder of his wife and son. Alex is not without fault but he is just one of many whose life has been devastated by opioid addiction.Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin
SLED arrested Curtis Edward Smith, 61, of Walterboro, for the roadside shooting that sent Murdaugh to the hospital on Sept. 4. He faces charges including assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
State investigators say Murdaugh orchestrated the shooting so his son Buster could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
WSAV has learned Murdaugh represented Smith in a personal injury case eight years ago. Meanwhile, Griffin told the New York Times Murdaugh bought oxycodone from Smith.
“He called this guy who met him on the side of the road, agreed to shoot him in the head and this fake car breakdown,” Harpootlian told Today. “Thirty minutes later, this guy shoot[s] him in the head. Didn’t try to persuade him not to do it. Didn’t hesitate at all.”
Harpootlian told Today Murdaugh used opioids to cope with the recent murders of his wife and son and the death of his father. The attorney said Murdaugh took money from his family’s law firm for his own personal use, some of which he spent on opioids.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh arranged his own shooting with Smith, believing his son could only collect the insurance money if he was murdered, not if he committed suicide. But the ruse wasn’t necessary.
“Suicide exclusions in the life insurance are only good for two years,” Harpootlian said. “He didn’t realize that.”
Harpootlian said his client came forward so law enforcement could focus on the murders of his wife and son, not “this fake crime.”
“Gave them the bank accounts, totally cooperated,” he told Today. “Told them how to find out, how much he spent, where it went, where the bank accounts were, what went in, what came out, checks written to drug dealers.”
While an arrest has been made in Alex Murdaugh’s shooting, the murder of his wife Maggie and son Paul remains unsolved.
“Your client lied about the circumstances under which he was shot. It wouldn’t be a stretch for folks to think he probably also lied about the circumstances at which his wife and son were shot?” questioned Today’s Craig Melton.
“.. He is distraught about their deaths. He did not murder them,” Harpootlian replied.
“Does he perhaps know who did? and why?” Melton asked.
“I don’t think he does. I don’t think he does,” Harpootlian responded. “But, Jim Griffin and I are working on and investigating an individual or individuals that we believe may, may have some culpability or may have done it.”
WCBD contributed to this article