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Days after Alex Murdaugh resigned from his South Carolina law firm amid an embezzlement scandal, was hospitalized after being shot in the head, and then announced that he will be entering rehab, a spokesman has announced that the scion of a generational legal dynasty in the state’s low country has been barred from prosecuting cases for the regional solicitor’s office.
Murdaugh, whose wife and son were found shot to death on one of the family's properties in June, has now been prohibited from contributing legal aid by the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office which prosecutes cases across five counties in the Palmetto State. The 53-year-old was an authorized volunteer prosecutor who led his last case for the office in 2019; his family, including his father and grandfather, ran the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office from 1920 to 2005 while also earning millions in their private firm.
Solicitor Duffie Stone said that the decision to bar Murdaugh came after “this weekend [when] some of the accusations had taken place at the firm and he entered into rehab,” told the News Observer, who added that this move was “simply a way to formalize the ending of a relationship that really has not been in effect since 2019.”
On Friday, Murdaugh announced he’d resigned from the law firm started in 1910 by his great-grandfather, known today as Peters Murdaugh Parker Eltzroth Detrick, after a forensic accounting audit and additional verification from the South Carolina Bar apparently showed that he had misappropriated funds; Murdaugh’s resignation as a result of embezzlement was confirmed by his attorney, Jim Griffin.
The firm did not disclose how much money was missing. However, sources in the South Carolina legal community told The New York Times that the amount was believed to be in the millions.
Then, on Saturday afternoon, Murdaugh was hospitalized with a superficial gunshot wound to the head. Reports indicated that he was changing a tire on his car along Old Salkehatchie Road in Hampton County when he was shot by unidentified suspects. This account of the shooting has not been confirmed by authorities. On Monday, Murdaugh announced that he would be entering a rehab facility.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life,” he said in a statement obtained by The Island Packet. “I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret.”
Murdaugh went on to say that he had resigned from the law firm and asked for prayers that he’d be able to “rehabilitate myself and my relationships.”
“I am immensely sorry to everyone I’ve hurt, including my family, friends and colleagues,” he added.
On June 7, Margaret Murdaugh, 52, and their son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh were found shot to death at the family’s home by Murdaugh at their hunting compound in Islandton, a remote town an hour’s drive west of Charleston. At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing three felony counts, including boating under the influence, after a February 2019 incident in which 19-year-old Mallory Beach was thrown from the boat he was operating and died.
Last month, the 2020 deposition of Connor Cook, Paul Murdaugh's friend who was injured in the crash, was made public. In the deposition, Cook stated that while he was in the hospital being treated for a broken jaw, Alex Murdaugh approached him in a corridor.
“I was told for one by Alex Murdaugh that I didn’t need to tell anyone who was driving," Cook replied when asked by attorneys if he was “upfront with the officers'' after the accident, adding that the Murdaugh patriarch told Cook "that everything was going to be all right. I just needed to keep my mouth shut and tell them I didn't know who was driving and that he's got me."
While being deposed, Cook also indicated that two unsubstantiated rumors about the Murdaughs led him to comply with his friend’s father’s request, saying, “being who they are, I was doing what I was told. Anything they get in, they get out of.”
In the aftermath of the Murdaugh double murder, speculation around the death of the Murdaugh family housekeeper, 57-year-old Gloria Satterfield after a “trip and fall” in Hampton county on February 26, 2018, was renewed. Later that year, Alex Murdaugh settled a wrongful death claim in Satterfield’s death; his insurer paid out a sum of $500,000 for personal liability and $5,000 in a medical payment, according to the settlement document.
No evidence has emerged that links any members of the Murdaugh family to Satterfield’s death.
In June, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced it has opened an investigation into the 2015 death of teenager Stephen Smith, who was found dead on the side of the road about 10 miles from the Murdaugh compound. Sandy Smith, the teen’s mother, called into question the investigation at the time and suggested the Murdaugh family’s influence had played a role in the ruling, as was reported by FITS News. No members of the Murdaugh family have ever been named a suspect in the teen’s death.
SLED spokesperson Tommy Crosby said then the case opening was “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh."
In August, Stone announced he would be recusing himself from any cases regarding the Murdaugh deaths, citing new information that came to light amid the ongoing investigation. That information remains unspecified by the solicitor’s office.
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