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Alex Murdaugh Will Stay In Jail After Judge Refuses To Lower Bond, Attorneys Say
State Grand Jury Judge Alison Lee denied the request to lower Alex Murdaugh's $7 million bond, saying the figure was "reasonable" because she believed Murdaugh “remains a flight risk and a potential danger to himself and the community.”
Alex Murdaugh will stay in jail, according to his attorneys, after a South Carolina judge denied a motion to lower his $7 million bond.
State Grand Jury Judge Alison Lee denied the request to lower the legal scion’s bond in a one-page decision filed Tuesday after Mudaugh’s attorneys had argued earlier this month that the $7 million figure was too high and that Murdaugh was so strapped for cash, he couldn’t even pay his phone bill.
In her decision this week, Lee said she believed the $7 million bond was “reasonable” because Murdaugh “remains a flight risk and a potential danger to himself and the community.”
Lee initially set Murdaugh’s bond at $7 million at a hearing in December for the dozens of criminal charges levied against him, local station WCIV. She also denied a request in December to allow Murdaugh to pay only 10% of the bond amount.
Murdaugh’s attorneys Jim Griffin and Dick Harpootlian said Lee’s latest decision will mean Murdaugh will remain behind bars as he awaits trial.
"Alex is unable to post a $7 million bond,” his attorneys said in a statement to Oxygen.com. “He will remain in jail while these charges are pending. Going forward, we hope that the Attorney General will put as much energy and effort towards solving the murders of Maggie and Paul as his office has done with investigating Alex's financial affairs."
Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son Paul, 22, were found dead on the family’s Colleton County hunting compound in June. Investigators said each had been shot multiple times, but to date no arrests have been made and authorities have remained tight-lipped about their investigation.
While Murdaugh’s attorneys have insisted that he did not have anything to do with the murders of his wife and son, the deaths did spark a deeper investigation into Murdaugh’s life and uncovered a series of alleged financial crimes, The Associated Press reports.
Murdaugh has been accused of stealing more than $6.2 million from clients, colleagues and friends as part of a years-long fraud and money laundering scheme while working as a prominent attorney in the community.
Investigators say he also tried to take his own life in a botched assisted-suicide attempt in September so that his surviving son, Buster, could collect $10 million in life insurance.
Aside from the criminal charges, Murdaugh is also facing a series of civil lawsuits. As a result, another judge ordered his financial accounts be frozen so that the plaintiffs who had made claims against him had a chance to collect any possible financial settlements.
Murdaugh’s attorneys had argued earlier this month that the decision to freeze his accounts had left their client with few financial resources and an inability to meet the large bond amount.
They pointed to figures from two court-appointed receivers who testified that Murdaugh had about $10,000 in cash across several bank accounts and argued that he was so broke he couldn’t even pay his phone bill.
However, the receivers also testified about other assets, including a retirement account worth more than $2 million, the family’s estate in Colleton County, land in Berkley County and on some nearby islands and a partial ownership of a beach house, the news outlet reports.
Receiver John Lay argued that those assets should be used to repay Murdaugh’s victims.
Investigators are also still trying to track what happened to other money Murdaugh is alleged to have stolen from former clients and the family of his own housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. Satterfield died in February of 2018 after the Murdaughs told police she had tripped and fallen at their house.
After her death, authorities say Murdaugh encouraged her two sons to file a wrongful death suit against him and recommended they use his close friend and attorney Cory Fleming. Although a $4.3 million settlement from Murdaugh’s insurers was reached in the suit, her family says they never received any of the money.