Alex Murdaugh, the embattled South Carolina lawyer accused of a bewildering array of criminal charges, spoke out for the first time on Monday about his infamous, botched assisted-suicide plot in September.
“I understand there may be concern I may be a danger to myself,” Murdaugh said during a Monday bond hearing on dozens of new charges over financial crimes. “I made a terrible decision that I regret and frankly I’m embarrassed about. I’m not in that place now.”
In an impassioned eight-minute speech to South Carolina Circuit Judge Allison Renee Lee, the scion explained his mindset leading up to the Labor Day incident, where prosecutors allege he orchestrated his own shooting in a failed bid to secure a $10 million insurance payout for his son, Buster. The 53-year-old currently faces several charges alongside his alleged co-conspirator and distant cousin, Curtis Edward Smith, for the incident that has only punctuated his fall from grace in the Low Country.
Murdaugh explained that the day of the failed shooting, he had revealed to his brother and former law partner that he had a 20-year opioid addiction and was in “the throes of withdrawal.”
He added that he was grieving over the loss of his wife, Margaret, and his other son, Paul—both of whom were found murdered outside their home in June.
“Things were moving really quickly and really negatively,” Murdaugh said. “My world was caving in.”
Prosecutors say that Murdaugh called police after indicating he had been shot in the head by an unknown truck driver on a backcountry road. Days later, he admitted to police that he tried to stage his own murder for the insurance payout—before he was whisked away to rehab.
Murdaugh said that while in treatment, he realized the severity of his actions and noted that the humiliation and embarrassment were “crushing.” Now, almost 100 days opiate free, Murdaugh said, he wanted to apologize for his actions and accept responsibility.
“I want to deal with these charges appropriately and head-on,” he added. “I want to repair the damage I have done. I want to repeat as many relationships as I can.”
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The comments from Murdaugh came during a bond hearing for 12 state grand-jury indictments, where he faces 48 counts of financial crimes after allegedly stealing more than $6 million from clients and his former law firm.
The indictments, which mean a maximum prison sentence of 508 years, allege that Murdaugh funneled funds into a fake account he created in order to enrich himself. On Monday, Lee set Murdaugh’s bond at $7 million and ordered he would have to pay the entire amount in order to be released from jail. The decision came after State Grand Jury Chief Creighton Waters said Murdaugh should remain in jail because he is a flight risk and has been “unhinged” since the Sept. 4 shooting fiasco.
In response to the hefty bond entered against Murdaugh, his attorney Dick Harpootlian insisted to the judge that his client is “impecunious” and unsuccessfully argued for a reduction.
Among the allegations of fraud detailed in the new charges is the claim Murdaugh diverted millions of dollars to a secret bank account from a wrongful-death settlement meant for the sons of his former housekeeper and nanny, Gloria Satterfield. Murdaugh is also facing a lawsuit in connection with the Satterfield settlement.
Prosecutors allege that, after Satterfield died in 2018 following an incident on Murdaugh property, the disgraced lawyer coordinated with the housekeeper’s family “to sue himself in order to seek an insurance settlement.” Satterfield’s two sons, however, insist they did not receive a dime of the $4.3 million payout.
On Monday, Murdaugh’s lawyer Harpootlian read out loud a statement from his client indicating he had agreed to confess to “mishandling” the $4.3 million from Satterfield’s two sons and apologized.
Murdaugh has been implicated in other probes as well, including allegations he conspired to influence the 2019 investigation into a boat crash involving his late son Paul that killed a teenage girl.
Last month, Chesterfield County Judge Dan Hall ruled that Murdaugh will have all his cash and assets frozen and controlled by court-appointed overseers amid allegations he has been hiding his money.
If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).