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Alex Murdaugh’s Attorneys Appeal To State Supreme Court After Judge Denies Bond Again
Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys appealed a judge's decision to deny the legal scion’s second bond request to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Alex Murdaugh’s attorneys have asked the South Carolina Supreme Court to overrule a judge’s second decision to deny bond to the 53-year-old.
Murdaugh’s attorneys Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin filed the petition just hours after Circuit Judge Clifton Newman on Wednesday ordered Murdaugh to remain behind bars without bond, ruling that the legal scion presented “a danger both to himself and the community,” according to The State in Columbia, South Carolina.
Newman made the decision after, among other things, reviewing Murdaugh’s psychiatric evaluation — which Murdaugh's lawyers wrote in their petition did not find him to be a danger to himself or others — and considering arguments made by lawyers in the case.
“After considering the arguments of counsel, the evaluation submitted, pending charges and other investigations, and the apparent character and mental condition of the defendant, the Court finds that the Defendant is a danger both to himself and the community,” Newman wrote in his order, obtained by the paper.
Murdaugh’s attorneys, however, have argued to the appeals court that keeping someone behind bars indefinitely without proper cause is a violation of the state's constitution.
“The South Carolina Constitution guarantees every person the right to be released on bail, pending trial, except persons charged with capital offenses, offenses punishable by life imprisonment or violent offenses as defined by the General Assembly,” they wrote in the petition, according to the local papers.
Murdaugh is facing criminal charges accusing him of embezzling approximately $3.4 million from the estate of his late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, along with separate charges for his alleged role in a botched assisted suicide attempt to take his own life in September as part of an insurance scheme. None of the charges he faces could statutorily result in a death sentence or life imprisonment, and none is considered a violent offense.
Furthermore, according to the petition, Murdaugh was examined by Dr. Donna Maddox, a forensic psychiatrist, and her evaluation “did not find that (Murdaugh) is a danger to himself or to the community.” It did, however, diagnose him with “severe opioid use disorder,” The Post and Courier reported.
Maddow's report recommended that Murdaugh be released and then spend another 8-10 weeks in a residential treatment facility, followed by intensive outpatient therapy and grief counseling, according to the petition.
Creighton Waters, the prosecutor in the state Attorney General's office overseeing the various Murdaugh investigations, supported the petition for bond, according to The State. He had told the judge the state was prepared to accept a $200,000 bond and GPS monitoring, along with other conditions that included a requirement that Murdaugh surrender all his guns and not possess any others and another that would've prohibited him from "wasting" his assets.
Murdaugh’s attorneys said he has been struggling with an opioid addiction for two decades, which first began after he was prescribed pain medication for a knee injury.
“Since then, he has spent millions of dollars supporting this insidious addiction,” they wrote in the petition.
Newman had first denied Murdaugh’s request for bail at an Oct. 19 hearing, but asked for the psychiatric evaluation.
While Murdaugh’s attorneys disagree with the judge’s decision to keep Murdaugh behind bars, Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter — the attorneys representing deceased Murdaugh housekeeper Gloria Satterfield’s family — said in a statement to The Post and Courier that decision was another example of how the “justice system continues to work as intended regarding Alex Murdaugh.”
“Murdaugh will no longer be receiving favorable treatment but will be drinking from the same cup of justice as every other charged criminal in the state drinks from,” they said.
Murdaugh was arrested on two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses in that case last month after investigators said he encouraged Satterfield’s family to file a wrongful death lawsuit against him after the housekeeper “fell and hit her head” while at their Islandton, South Carolina home in February of 2018, according to arrest warrants obtained by Oxygen.com.
He allegedly encouraged the family to hire attorney Cory Fleming — one of his own close friends — who worked to secure a $4.3 million settlement with the insurance company on behalf of the family, but investigators said the family was kept in the dark about the progress of the case.
“The Satterfield family were never notified of the settlements nor received any of the proceeds from them, and the settlement agreement was not properly filed in the court record,” the warrants allege.
Murdaugh is also facing more recent charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false report in connection with a botched suicide attempt on Sept. 4.
According to an affidavit from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division obtained by Oxygen.com, Murdaugh provided Curtis Edward Smith with a gun and asked the man to shoot him. Murdaugh had allegedly wanted his own death to appear to look like a homicide so that his son Buster could collect on a $10 million insurance policy, authorities said.
Murdaugh survived the ordeal and later told investigators that an unknown assailant had shot him while he was trying to change a tire on his car.
A Hampton County grand jury indicted the pair in connection with the alleged incident last week.
The recent charges underscore the rapid fall from grace of the former legal scion.
His former law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Elzroth and Detrick (PMPED), also filed a lawsuit against him last month after alleging he had secretly been stealing from the company and depositing the money into his accounts for his personal use.
Investigators are also still looking into the double murders of Murdaugh’s wife Maggie, 52, and youngest son Paul, 22, who were found dead on the family’s Colleton County property on June 7.
At the time of his death, Paul had been facing charges connected to a fatal boating accident in 2019 that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach.
You can watch "Alex Mudaugh. Death. Deception. Power." here or on Peacock starting January 6.