But a family lawyer suing Murdaugh said they were “presenting a defense that does not exist.”
Murdaugh, whose wife and son were killed in June, was arrested Thursday in an insurance fraud scheme that court documents say involved Murdaugh planning his own murder so that his son survivor can collect the life insurance payment.
The case of the death of his wife and son remains unresolved and Murdaugh has denied responsibility.
Satterfield, who spent more than two decades working for the family, died in what was described at the time as a “trip and fall accident” at the Murdaugh’s home, according to Bland.
After his death, Murdaugh embezzled millions in the Satterfield family settlements, Bland said Thursday.
The inquest into Satterfield’s death has been opened, SLED said, at the request of the Hampton County Coroner, who highlighted inconsistencies with Satterfield’s reported mode of death, as well as information gathered during other SLED investigations involving Murdaugh.
“The death of the deceased was not reported to the coroner at the time, and no autopsy was performed,” the coroner told SLED. “On the death certificate, the mode of death was rated ‘natural’, which is inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip-and-fall accident.”
Murdaugh appeared in court Thursday, where Hampton County investigating judge Tonja Alexander posted a personal bond of $ 20,000. Murdaugh had to surrender his passport to SLED and sign an extradition waiver.
He faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and filing a false police report, according to a statement from SLED. The case will be pursued by the state attorney general’s office.
His lawyer Dick Harpootlian said Murdaugh would return to an out-of-state rehab facility where he is being treated for an opioid addiction which the lawyer says contributed to his financial problems.
At one point, Murdaugh appeared to wipe tears from under his glasses as Harpootlian described the murders of his wife and son and the toll of their deaths.
“He fell out of favor,” said Harpootlian. “But before this fall happened, his wife and son were brutally murdered, and it had an extraordinary effect on him. So we ask that you allow him to go and help him heal himself.”
Authorities initially described Murdaugh’s injury as a “superficial gunshot wound to the head,” although Murdaugh’s lawyers said his skull was fractured in the shooting.
Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a gun and ordered him to shoot him in the head. Smith admitted on Tuesday that he was present during the shooting and disposed of the gun afterward, the affidavit states.
Murdaugh decided to end his life but believed his life insurance policy had a suicide exclusion, Harpootlian told NBC’s “Today Show” and that the scheme “was an attempt on his part to do something. to protect “his eldest and only living child.
Smith, 61, was charged Wednesday with assisted suicide, grievous and aggravated bodily harm, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, according to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Hampton County Judge Alexander on Thursday set the bond for Smith at $ 55,000. When asked if he was interested in a public defender, Smith replied, “I’m probably going to watch one, yes,” adding that he would probably ask for one early next week.
Murdaugh had represented Smith as his attorney on at least two occasions dating back to 2010, according to court records from the 14th Colleton County Judicial Circuit. He first represented Smith in a personal injury lawsuit that Smith brought against a land management company. Murdaugh is also listed as Smith’s attorney for a traffic violation in 2013, according to court documents.
Investigations into several deaths
Murdaugh’s arrest on Thursday is the latest development in what has become a sprawling, high-profile criminal saga unfolding in the southern region of Palmetto state, where the Murdaugh family has been a powerful legal dynasty for decades.
For 87 consecutive years, three generations of Murdaughs served as the 14th Circuit Lawyer, an office that monitors prosecutions in Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.
Tragedy first struck in early June, when Alex Murdaugh’s wife Margaret and son Paul, 22, were gunned down outside the family home in Islandton, about an hour north of the island of Hilton Head, according to SLED. Colleton County Sheriff’s Deputies determined that the two victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds.
At the time of his death, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges of boating under the influence causing grievous bodily harm and death in a 2019 boating accident that claimed the life of 19-year-old Mallory Beach. according to court records. Paul had pleaded not guilty and court records show the charges were dropped after his death.
About two weeks after the murders, SLED announced that, based on information gathered during the investigation, it was reopening an investigation into the death of Stephen Smith, a 19-year-old whose body was found on a road County of Hampton in 2015.
CNN’s Martin Savidge, Eric Levenson, Amanda Watts, Gregory Lemos, Melissa Alonso, Caroline Kenny and Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.