US lawyer who attempted to stage his own murder turns himself in

Filed on September 17, 2021
Lawyer Alex Murdaugh walks into his bond hearing. — AP

Alex Murdaugh tried to arrange his own murder in a $10 million insurance fraud

A prominent US lawyer who allegedly attempted to stage his own murder turned himself in to the authorities in South Carolina on Thursday to face charges of insurance fraud and lying to the police in the latest twist in a bizarre crime saga.

Alex Murdaugh, 53, was taken into custody at the Hampton County Law Enforcement Center, 12 days after he tried to arrange his own murder, a spokesman for the detention centre said.

Murdaugh, disconsolate over the murder of his wife and son, his legal troubles and his opioid addiction, paid a man to shoot him in the head so his surviving son could collect on a $10 million insurance policy, according to his attorneys.

Murdaugh survived the September 4 shooting on the side of a country road and police have arrested Curtis Smith, 61, and charged him with assisted suicide, aggravated assault and battery, and insurance fraud.

Murdaugh’s staged murder attempt came a day after he was forced out of his law firm in Hampton, South Carolina, for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars.

It took place three months after the mysterious and unsolved shooting deaths of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and their son Paul, a 22-year-old college student.

No arrests have been made in their June 7 deaths, which occurred at the sprawling family hunting lodge in Islandton, in southwestern South Carolina.

One line of speculation surrounding the double murder related to the fact that Paul Murdaugh, at the time of his death, was awaiting trial on charges stemming from a February 2019 boat crash that left a 19-year-old woman dead.

One of Murdaugh’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian, told the NBC News “Today” show that Murdaugh had sought to stage his own murder because he was experiencing “massive depression” and believed in error that his life insurance policy would not be paid out to his older son Buster if he himself committed suicide.

“He arranged to have this guy shoot him,” Harpootlian said. “He called this guy, who met him on the side of the road and agreed to shoot him in the head.”

Murdaugh admits hiring the hit man was wrong, Harpootlian said. “It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child.”

Smith, the alleged hit man, was a former client of Murdaugh who in the past had supplied him with opioids, the attorney said.

In another development, police announced on Wednesday that they have opened an investigation into the 2018 death of Gloria Satterfield, 57, a housekeeper at the Murdaugh home. Her death was initially ruled to be the result of a fall.

The Murdaugh family has deep roots in law enforcement in South Carolina. Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as regional prosecutors.

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