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Alex Murdaugh And Man He Allegedly Hired In Assisted Suicide Plot Are Indicted By Grand Jury

Prosecutors have alleged that Alex Murdaugh and Curtis Edward Smith conspired “for the purpose of defrauding an insurer," by staging an assisted suicide attempt to look like a homicide. 

By Jill Sederstrom
True Crime Buzz: A Timeline Of What To Know Ahead Of Oxygen’s Murdaugh Special

Alex Murdaugh and the man he allegedly hired to shoot him in the head in a botched assisted suicide have been indicted by a grand jury.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Thursday that a grand jury had handed down indictments for Alex Murdaugh for conspiracy, false claim for payment of $10,000 or more and filing a false police report after authorities said he conspired with Curtis Edward Smith on Sept. 4 to carry out the assisted suicide attempt.

Smith was also indicted by a Hampton County Grand Jury for pointing and presenting a firearm, conspiracy, assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, and false claim for payment of $10,000 or more.

Authorities have said the two men conspired together “for the purpose of defrauding an insurer,” according to the indictments obtained by Oxygen.com.

Alex Murdaugh Ap 2

Murdaugh allegedly enlisted Smith to help him carry out his own suicide, providing Smith with a gun and directing Smith to shoot him in the head along Old Salkehatchie Road over Labor Day weekend amid months of personal and professional troubles for the 53-year-old legal scion, according to the court records.

Investigators said Murdaugh devised the plan because he was hoping to “conceal the suicidal character of the homicide, and thus cause the beneficiary of Murdaugh’s life insurance policy to submit a false claim to the insurer.”

Investigators have said he was hoping his son Buster would be able to cash in on a $10 million life insurance policy.

He believed his insurance company would have denied the claim if the cause of death had been ruled a suicide.

According to the indictments, on Sept. 4, Smith followed Murdaugh to a location along the Old Salkehatchie Road and shot Murdaugh in the head, however, he survived the shooting with a superficial wound, later called 911, and provided false information to investigators about how he had gotten the injury.

“I got a flat tire and I stopped and somebody stopped to help me and when I turned my back, they tried to shoot me,” he told the emergency dispatcher according to recording obtained by Oxygen.com, adding that he had been shot “somewhere on my head.”

In a statement shortly after his arrest in September, Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin said in a statement to Oxygen.com that their client felt “ending his life was his only option” as his life was quickly unraveling.

“For the last 20 years, there have been many people feeding his addiction to opioids,” they said at the time. “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.”

Smith, a former client and distant cousin of Murdaugh, has repeatedly denied that he had known about the plot, telling The New York Post shortly after his arrest that the day of the shooting he had gotten a call from Alex saying he needed come meet him and he agreed, believing Murdaugh needed a ride.

When he arrived at the scene, however, he said Murdaugh was brandishing a gun, which went off during a scuffle to gain control of it.

“I run over and we wrestled a minute together, me trying to get the gun away from him,” Smith told the outlet.  “Then the gun kind of went off above his head and I got scared to death and I ran to my truck and took off.”

He described the incident as “the craziest situation I ever been involved with” and said he believed he was set up “to be the fall guy.”

Yet in the latest indictments against him, authorities contend that Smith “did have knowledge that another person intended to commit suicide” and “intentionally provided the physical means” to carry out the task.

It described the pair as having a “tacit understanding and agreement” with one another.

While out on bond, Murdaugh entered a drug rehabilitation program but he was arrested again in Florida last month on charges that he stole more than $3.4 million in settlement funds from a civil case brought against him by the family of his longtime housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield.

Murdaugh had allegedly encouraged Satterfield's family to file the civil suit against him after she died in 2018, allegedly after tripping over the Murdaugh family dogs near a set of stairs in his house, but her two sons never saw any money and were unaware that a settlement agreement had been reached in the case.  

Just last week, a judge ordered the Murdaugh family’s assets be temporarily frozen after allegations surfaced that the attorney could be hiding assets as the lawsuits against him continue to mount.

In addition to legal action by Satterfield’s family, the family of Mallory Beach—a teenager killed in 2019 when Murdaugh’s late son Paul allegedly crashed a boat while intoxicated—and Connor Cook, one of the other people on the boat that night, have also filed lawsuits against the family, according to local station WCIV.

Murdaugh’s son Paul, 22, and wife Maggie, 52, were found shot to death on the family’s hunting compound in June. Murdaugh’s attorneys have insisted he had nothing to do with the deaths.

No arrests have been made to date in the double homicide.

You can watch "Alex Mudaugh. Death. Deception. Power." here or on Peacock starting January 6.