Thursday, September 16

Authorities say he conspired to have him killed and his son to collect $ 10 million in insurance


(CNN) — Alex Murdaugh, a prominent South Carolina attorney, conspired this month with a man to shoot him in the head, with the aim that his son could collect about $ 10 million in life insurance, according to authorities.

Murdaugh, who survived the Sept. 4 shooting, admitted to the conspiracy Monday, according to an affidavit to support the charges.

The 53-year-old attorney is described as a co-defendant in the affidavit, although no charges have been announced against him.

Murdaugh allegedly provided Curtis Edward Smith, 61, of Colleton County, with a firearm and told him to shoot him in the head, according to the affidavit.

The purpose of the plan was for Smith to kill Murdaugh so his son could collect life insurance, according to the affidavit.

Smith is charged with assisted suicide; conspiracy to commit insurance fraud; point and present a firearm; and assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, or SLED.

Smith admitted Tuesday that he was present at the Murdaugh shooting and disposed of the firearm, the affidavit said.

Additional charges are expected in the case, SLED said. Smith was also charged with methamphetamine distribution and marijuana possession, according to SLED.

It is unclear if Smith has an attorney at this time. CNN reached out to a spokesperson for the Murdaugh family for comment.

Immediately after the shooting, Murdaugh called 911 to report that he had been shot on a Hampton County highway, according to a statement from SLED spokesman Tommy Crosby. He was transferred to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, where he was treated for a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” the statement said.

The following week, a family spokesperson issued a statement stating that the injury was more serious and outlining more details of the incident.

“Alex stopped after seeing a low tire indicator light. A driver of a blue pickup truck asked him if he had a problem with the car and as soon as Alex responded, he was shot,” the statement said.

Alex Murdaugh exits a hearing in a personal injury lawsuit in Richland County Court in March 2019 (Photo: John Monk / TNS via ZUMA Press Wire)

Attorney: Alex Murdaugh was in “massive depression” and detoxing when she conspired with a man

An attorney for Alex Murdaugh said his client was in “massive depression” and detoxing from opioids when he conspired with a local man to kill him.

On NBC’s Today Show, Dick Harpootlian said the June murder of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and their son, Paul, “took a tremendous toll on him,” as did the death of his father the same week. .

“Most people couldn’t get over it. He got over it with opioid use,” Harpootlian said.

The revelation, about two weeks ago, that Murdaugh had embezzled funds from his law firm Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED) coincided with a self-initiated detox, which, according to Harpootlian, plunged Murdaugh into ” a massive depression. “

Murdaugh “realized that things were going to get very, very, very bad and decided to end his life” believing that his life insurance policy had a suicide exclusion, his attorney said.

Murdaugh conspired with Curtis Edward Smith, 61, of Colleton County, to shoot him in the head on Sept. 4 so his son could collect about $ 10 million in life insurance, according to authorities.

Harpootlian said Murdaugh’s plan “was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his son,” Buster, his oldest and only living son.

Murdaugh, who survived the Sept. 4 shooting, admitted to the plan Monday, according to an affidavit to support the charges.

Harpootlian said he and attorney Jim Griffin visited Murdaugh Monday at an out-of-state detox center. “In fact, it was the first conversation we had with him where he was not taking opiates or oxycodine. And as a result of that, he clearly knew that what he had done was wrong,” Harpootlian said.

On the other hand, Harpootlian insisted that Murdaugh had nothing to do with the murder of his wife and son, and denied that there was any connection between that incident and the fact that he was shot in the head on the road. “It is clear that he is distraught over their deaths, but he did not murder them,” Harpootlian said, adding that he does not believe Murdaugh knows who did it.

What Harpootlian did comment is that he and other attorneys for the family are looking for another suspect whose motive “is personal. The motive would be personal.”

He added that he fully hopes that Murdaugh will eventually be charged, but his client’s hope is that authorities will stay focused on solving the murder of his wife and son.

Notable family in South Carolina

Murdaugh is a member of a family well known in South Carolina legal circles. The Murdaugh family has served as Attorney General for the 14th Circuit for three generations, directing prosecutions in Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties in southern South Carolina.

More recently, the family was embroiled in a series of bloody tragedies, including the shooting murder of Murdaugh’s wife and son Margaret and Paul in June.

The day before the shooting incident, Murdaugh had resigned from the PMPED law firm, according to the company.

Days later, the company said Murdaugh’s resignation came “after PMPED discovered that Alex had misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED rules and policies.”

His license was later suspended, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Randy Murdaugh IV, Alex Murdaugh’s brother and also an attorney for the law firm PMPED, issued a statement on the resignation, acknowledging what attorney Jim Griffin would later specify as Alex Murdaugh’s opioid addiction.

“I was shocked, like the rest of my PMPED family, to learn of my brother Alex’s drug addiction and money theft,” Randy Murdaugh wrote in the statement.

SLED announced Monday that it has opened an investigation into Murdaugh based on the misappropriation allegations.

A family tragedy

Two days after the shooting, Murdaugh released a statement saying he was going into rehab.

“The murders of my wife and son have created an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made many decisions that I truly regret,” he said in the statement. “I am resigning from my law firm and entering rehab after a long battle that has been compounded by these murders. I apologize immensely to everyone I have hurt, including my family, friends, and colleagues. I ask for prayers as I rehabilitate myself. and I rehabilitate my relationships. “

On June 7, Alex Murdaugh called 911 and reported that he had found his wife Margaret, 52, and their son Paul, then 22, shot to death outside their home in Islandton, a small community. located one hour north of Hilton Head Island, according to SLED.

Both victims had multiple gunshot wounds, Colleton County Sheriff’s Deputies determined.

His brothers, John Marvin Murdaugh and Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh IV, spoke to ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​shortly after about the killings and said they did not believe Alex was involved.

“My brother loved Maggie and he loved Paul like nothing on this earth, just like he loves (his other son) Buster,” Randy said. “So there is no possible way that he has something to do with this, I can assure you.”

SLED asked the public not to pass judgment until the investigation was completed.

While investigating the deaths of the mother and son, SLED gathered information that led them to reopen an investigation into the unresolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith, whose body was found on the road in 2015 in Hampton County, he said. the agency.

Melissa Alonso, Eric Levenson, Martin Savidge, Angela Barajas y Gregory we readCNN contributed to this report.


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