Lawyer derides defence of opioid-addicted South Carolina lawyer at centre of unsolved deaths and fraud claims

·2 min read
Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of arranging his own murder, has reportedly turned himself in (Hampton County Detention Center)
Alex Murdaugh, who is accused of arranging his own murder, has reportedly turned himself in (Hampton County Detention Center)

The attorney representing a high-profile lawyer connected with numerous crimes, deaths and fraud investigations has said his client “has fallen from grace,” in a defence ridiculed as “spin”.

Alex Murdaugh admitted to arranging his own botched killing so that his elder son could collect the life insurance payout, worth an estimated $10 million on Thursday this week.

It was an extraordinary twist in an ongoing saga of mysterious deaths and unsolved crimes connected to the wealthy South Carolina Murdaugh family.

The wife and younger son of Mr Murdaugh were murdered in the family’s hunting lodge in June, a crime that remains unsolved. Mr Murdaugh denies responsibility for the deaths.

Police have said that due to information that came to light in the course of their investigation into the double killing, they are opening inquiries into at least two other deaths in the past few years – that of a 19-year-old whose body was found in the middle of a road in 2015, and that of the Murdaugh’s longtime nanny and housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died at their home in 2018 in an accident described as a ‘’trip and fall.”

CNN reports that Satterfield’s sons are now suing Mr Murdaugh, who they say never paid them a penny of the civil settlement they had agreed on.

The attorney for Satterfield’s estate, Eric Bland, told CNN that the Murdaugh family “have lied to them, they have taken money from them, they have misled them.”

Mr Bland said that at the time, Satterfield’s family had trusted Mr Murdaugh to help them bring a wrongful death claim against him. “Our clients had tremendous trust in Murdaugh. They viewed him as family,” he said, alleging that Murdaugh had misappropriated millions in settlements from Satterfield’s sons.

“It’s a disgrace, we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and we have no sympathy or pity for Alex Murdaugh,” Mr Bland said.

Mr Murdaugh appeared in court on Thursday, when his attorney Dick Harpootlian said Mr Murdaugh was going to visit a rehabilitation centre for an opioid addiction that had exacerbated his financial problems, and described the killings of his wife and son as having taken a toll on him.

“He has fallen from grace,” said Mr Harpootlian. “But before any of that falling happened, his wife and son were brutally murdered, and that has had an extraordinary effect on him. So we’d ask you to allow him to go and help heal himself.”

Mr Bland accused Mr Murdaugh’s attorneys of “casting a defence that doesn’t exist.” and said Mr Hartpootlian’s remarks were just “lawyer spin.”

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