Lawyer: Murdaugh knows he’ll go to prison for stealing money

Posted at 8:10 PM, October 15, 2021 and last updated 3:17 PM, July 24, 2023

By JEFFREY COLLINS Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The attorney for prominent South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh, who discovered his wife and son dead at their home this summer, said Murdaugh is resigned that he will serve time in prison for stealing millions of dollars.

But Murdaugh continues to insist he had nothing to do with their shooting deaths and regrets if his actions have hindered investigators trying to find who killed his wife, Maggie, and son Paul.

Alex Murdaugh weeps during his bond hearing, Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. Murdaugh surrendered Thursday to face insurance fraud and other charges after state police said he arranged to have himself shot in the head so that his son would get a $10 million life insurance payout. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

“He has indicated clearly that he is going to try to right every wrong – financial wrong – and others that he may have committed. Look, he’s reconciled to the fact he’s going to prison. He understands that. He’s a lawyer,” Murdaugh attorney Dick Harpootlian said Friday on ” Good Morning America.”

Murdaugh’s former law firm — founded by his great-grandfather a century ago — has accused him of stealing possibly millions of dollars. State police are investigating.

On Thursday, Murdaugh was charged with taking insurance settlements meant for the sons of his housekeeper, who died more than two years ago. A lawsuit filed by the sons said Murdaugh took more than $4 million in that case.

Harpootlian’s goal Friday was to release medical records that his lawyer said show Murdaugh was shot in the head on Sept. 4 on the side of a lonely highway after trying to arrange his own death so his surviving son could collect a $10 million insurance policy.

Like many developments in the case, that account has ended up in dispute and endless discussion online. In a court appearance where Murdaugh was being arraigned on insurance fraud and other charges 12 days after the shooting, he had no bandage on his head or a visible wound.

The man charged with shooting Murdaugh went on TV on Thursday and said he was 1,000% certain Murdaugh wasn’t shot. Curtis “Eddie” Smith said a month ago that he wasn’t certain if Murdaugh was hit as they struggled for the gun. Smith has said he didn’t know Murdaugh wanted to be killed until he met him on the road and the gun fired as he tried to wrestle it out of his friend’s hand.

Harpootlian again Friday called Smith a drug dealer who provided Murdaugh with opioids and other drugs that led to a crippling addiction.

FILE – Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, in Varnville, S.C. For a century, the Murdaughs have quietly steered much of the legal world in this corner of the state, by running the prosecutor’s office and a large civil law firm. Then, in June, Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son Paul were killed at the family’s sprawling estate. Six investigations are underway, over the killings, stolen money, death coverups and a Sept. 4 shooting in which a bullet grazed Murdaugh’s head on a lonely highway. Police said he tried to arrange his own death and make sure a $10 million life insurance policy would pay off for his surviving son. (AP Photo/Mic Smith)

“Eddie Smith is not telling the truth, and he has reasons not to tell the truth,” Harpootlian said.

Smith has adamantly denied being a drug dealer, saying he and Murdaugh were friends after the attorney handled his workers’ compensation case.

Medical records mention a gunshot wound with blood on the brain and time spent in an intensive care unit during Murdaugh’s two-day hospital stay.

When a medical helicopter arrived after the shooting, Murdaugh was sitting up and answering questions in full sentences, although he did complain of head pain and said he was temporarily blinded after the shot, according to four pages of records sent to The Associated Press.

“They did a CAT scan — skull fracture, bullet wound, brain bleed. Oxygen got into the brain. They had to put him in ICU,” Harpootlian said on “Good Morning America.”

Murdaugh initially said he was checking a flat tire on his SUV when someone riding by shot at him, later changing his story to asking Smith to kill him, authorities said.

The scrutiny into Murdaugh’s life started June 7 when he found wife Maggie, 52, and son Paul, 22, shot to death outside their Colleton County home. Their deaths remain unsolved.

Murdaugh, 53, woke up Friday in the Orange County, Florida, jail after South Carolina state police charged him with two felony counts of obtaining property by false pretenses related to insurance settlements meant for the sons of a housekeeper who died in February 2018 in what the family said was a fall at their home. A lawsuit by the sons estimates the stolen money at more than $4 million.

Murdaugh, arrested at a drug rehab center in Florida, was awaiting extradition.

Along with the investigating into his wife and son’s deaths, the roadside shooting, the missing law firm money and the insurance payments for the housekeeper’s deaths, state police are also investigating whether Murdaugh has connections to a 2015 hit-and-run death and whether he or other family members tried to obstruct the investigation into a boat crash involving Paul Murdaugh that killed a 19-year-old woman in 2019.

The Murdaughs have dominated the legal community in their Hampton County home for nearly the past century. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather were elected prosecutors and the family founded and built a prestigious law firm known for suing railroads.
Associated Press writer Jeff Martin contributed to this report from in Woodstock, Georgia.