Alex Murdaugh’s attorney speaks out on shooting incident: ‘He clearly knew what he had done was wrong’

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The attorney representing Alex Murdaugh, a high-profile South Carolina lawyer whom police believe arranged a botched plot to be shot and killed in order to garner millions in life insurance payouts to his son, revealed Wednesday that he expects his client will soon be charged himself and that he "clearly knew what he had done was wrong."

Dick Harpootlian made the remarks in an interview with NBC’s "Today" show after visiting Murdaugh at what he described as an out-of-state detox facility earlier this week. Murdaugh’s wife and son were murdered in a double shooting in June, prior to the Sept. 4 incident in which Curtis Edward Smith allegedly shot Murdaugh in the head on the side of a road.

"He was in a dark, dark, dark place and wanted to help his remaining son Buster in any way he could and he thought this was the only way he could leave him with anything," Harpootlian said.


"He clearly knew what he had done was wrong and explained to us a couple things," the attorney added about the visit with Murdaugh this past Monday. "One, the murder of his son and wife 90 days ago took a tremendous toll on him, his father died of cancer that same week – most people couldn’t get through that. He got through it with the use of opioids and then last week it was uncovered that he had converted some client and law firm money to his own use, and again spent most of that on opioids."

"And on that Saturday morning he was trying to get off the opioids – he was not taking any of them, [he] was in a massive depression. Realized that things were going to get very, very bad," Harpootlian continued. "And he decided to end his life. He believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion. Suicide exclusions are only good for two years and he didn’t realize that, so he arranged to have this guy shoot him."

Harpootlian, when asked if he thinks Murdaugh will be arrested in the near future, told the "Today" show that "yes, I think he will be charged."

"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 also said. "Thirty minutes later this guy is shooting him in the head. He didn’t try to persuade him not to do it, he didn’t hesitate at all. There was an entrance and exit wound. Alex indicated he collapsed, he was blind for a while before he was taken to the hospital."

Smith, 61, is currently facing charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud in connection with the case, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced Tuesday.

Investigators said they have probable cause to believe Murdaugh set up the plot himself – but survived the shooting attempt with a superficial wound to the head, according to a SLED affidavit.


"Richard Alex Murdaugh conspired with Curtis Edward Smith in the area of Old Salkehatchie Road, for the purpose of Mr. Smith assisting Mr. Murdaugh to commit suicide," the affidavit alleges. "Mr. Murdaugh provided Mr. Smith with a firearm and directed Mr. Smith to shoot him in the head for the purpose of causing Mr. Murdaugh's death and allowing for the payment of a stated death benefit."

If the plot succeeded, Murdaugh's surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could have collected on his father's $10 million life insurance policy, police said.

Smith allegedly shot Murdaugh in the head on Old Salkehatchie Road on the afternoon of Sept. 4, then drove away to dispose of the gun, which the lawyer allegedly provided.

Police also charged Smith for allegedly selling methamphetamine and possessing marijuana.

Two days after the shooting, Murdaugh announced that he was resigning from his law firm, which his family founded more than a century ago, and entering rehab. Hours later, the firm, PMPED, alleged that the departing attorney had misappropriated funds. SLED is also investigating that case.

The Murdaughs, prominent in the region through their law practice and decades-long control of the local prosecutor’s office, have attracted national attention following the unsolved shooting deaths of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh, 22 and 52, on June 7. They were gunned down on a family property and discovered by Alex Murdaugh, who said he stumbled upon the crime scene on his way home from visiting his terminally ill father – who died days later.

At the time of their slayings, Paul was awaiting trial in connection with a drunken boat crash that killed a 19-year-old passenger named Mallory Beach in February 2019.

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