By JEFFREY COLLINS Associated Press
For much of disgraced South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh’s double murder trial, witnesses have talked about a generous and loving man — but prosecutors want jurors to know that same man stole over $4 million from his housekeeper’s relatives after she died at work, and killed his wife and son to cover up his crimes.
Prosecutors asked a judge Friday to consider allowing the son of Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper to tell jurors about how after she died in a fall at Murdaugh’s home, he promised her family to take care of them and then stole millions in settlements with his insurers.
Michael Satterfield said his mom cleaned the Murdaugh home, but also babysat their two sons and did anything else they asked over 20 years. She died at age 57 a few weeks after hitting her head in a fall in February 2018 on steps at the family’s house.
“Did you ever get one cent from Alex Murdaugh?” prosecutor Creighton Waters asked Friday.
“No,” Satterfield answered.
Murdaugh, 54, is standing trial in the shootings of his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and 22-year-old son, Paul, on June 7, 2021, at their Colleton County home. He faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder.
Prosecutors are asking Judge Clifton Newman to allow them to present evidence of Murdaugh stealing money from clients and his law firm to bolster their premise that Murdaugh killed his family to gain sympathy and buy time because his thefts and massive debts were about to be discovered.
Murdaugh is charged, but hasn’t been tried, with a range of about 100 other crimes, including the thefts, running a drug and money laundering ring, tax evasion and insurance fraud for trying to arrange his own death so his surviving son could collect $10 million in life insurance. Police said the would-be fatal shot only grazed Murdaugh’s head.
Newman hasn’t ruled yet how much if any of the financial crimes evidence he will allow jurors to hear. The jury returned to the courtroom late Friday morning to hear from a state agent who examined fingerprints.
Satterfield testified that after Murdaugh promised to take care of his housekeeper’s family, he suggested they hire one of his friends — who was also a college roommate and godfather to one of his sons — to be the executor of his mother’s estate.
Satterfield heard little from Murdaugh until they spoke in June 2021. He said Murdaugh told them they were working on a settlement hopefully by the end of the year. Court records show Murdaugh’s insurers had already paid more than $4 million for the fall.
“Did you give him permission to steal your money?” Waters asked Satterfield.
“No,” he replied.
Defense lawyer Jim Griffin asked only a few question in cross-examination, but honed in on how Satterfield didn’t know the exact date in June 2021 the conversation took place. Murdaugh’s wife and son were killed on June 7, 2021. Paul Murdaugh was shot twice with a shotgun and Maggie Murdaugh was shot four or five times with a rifle.
Even though Gloria Satterfield died in an accident, her death was never reported to the Hampton County coroner. State Law Enforcement Division agents exhumed her body about a year after the deaths of Murdaugh’s son and wife, but never announced any findings of reopening the investigation into her death.