HAMPTON, SC – The prominent South Carolina lawyer who was gunned down months after his wife and son were killed at their family hunting estate reportedly conspired to have another man kill him so his other son would receive his $ 10 million life insurance policy, state police say.
Monday’s announcement of charges against another South Carolina man is the latest twist in the saga of Alex Murdaugh, Hampton’s attorney linked to several state inquiries and whose family members had served for decades. generations at the local prosecutor’s office.
Murdaugh was put on the co-accused list as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division announced charges against Curtis Edward Smith, 61, who faces charges of assisted suicide, Highly aggravated assault and battery, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
What we know:Murders, money and mystery swirl around the eminent Murdaugh family in South Carolina
Dick Harpootlian, an attorney for Murdaugh, told the “Today” show Wednesday that Murdaugh “was called in to have this guy shoot him” in an attempt to charge his son for insurance. He said he expects Murdaugh to be charged in the next few days.
Murdaugh was shot in the head on September 4. The news came days before he enrolled in rehab and his law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth, & Detrick (PMPED), accused him of embezzlement. State police said on Monday they were investigating the missing money.
Harpootlian told the “Today” show that Murdaugh had used opioids and was trying to quit drugs the day he accused the shooting. Murdaugh was depressed, “realized things were going very, very, very bad” after taking money from his law firm, but believed that if he committed suicide, the life insurance payment would not would not go to his son, said Harpootlian.
Murdaugh used the majority of the company’s money to pay for opioids, his lawyer said.
Murdaugh has since admitted to giving Smith a gun and telling him to kill Murdaugh so that his life insurance policy will be paid off, the South Carolina law enforcement division has said in published affidavits Monday.
Smith followed Murdaugh to a rural country road where he then shot Murdaugh, police said in an affidavit. Smith left and disposed of the gun, while Murdaugh survived the shooting, the affidavit states.
Murdaugh called 911 after being shot in the head and was taken to an area hospital with superficial injuries, state and local police previously said. Harpootlian said Murdaugh was temporarily blinded during the shooting.
State police said in the affidavit that Murdaugh admitted participating in the scheme on Monday and that his life insurance policy, worth around $ 10 million, was to go to his surviving son. Smith also admitted on Tuesday that he was present and disposed of the gun, according to the affidavit.
Smith was also charged with distributing methamphetamine and possession of
marijuana. It was not immediately clear whether the Walterboro man had a lawyer.
A spokesperson for Murdaugh previously said Murdaugh pulled over after a tire light came on in his car and was shot by a man who pulled over to ask if he had car problems. Harpootlian described the incident on Wednesday as a “false car breakdown”.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh and his legal team approached state police with his confession. “He didn’t want law enforcement spending more time on this bogus crime instead of focusing on solving the Maggie and Paul (Murdaugh) murders,” Harpootlian told the “Today” show.
Alex Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, 52, and their 22-year-old son, Paul, were shot several times and found dead on June 7 at the family’s Colleton County hunting estate. Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report their deaths, which is still under investigation by state police.
Harpootlian told the “Today” show that Murdaugh did not kill his wife and son, and that Harpootlian and another attorney representing Murdaugh were investigating “an individual or individuals who we believe may be guilty or had done “.
Harpootlian did not say who he and his partner were investigating, saying only the motive would be “personal.”
Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son, Buster, had offered a reward of $ 100,000 for information leading to an arrest or to arrests and convictions.
At the time, Paul Murdaugh was facing charges related to a fatal boating crash in 2019. Mallory Beach, 19, of Hampton County, was killed and several others injured in the crash near Parris Island. Paul Murdaugh has faced three charges related to under the influence boating.
The case remains open and the Beach family have also filed a civil lawsuit and other legal actions against the Murdaugh family. Harpootlian said he represented Paul Murdaugh in the case.
The death of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh also prompted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to launch a homicide investigation into the unsolved death of 19-year-old Stephen Smith. Paul and Maggie Murdaugh. “
Smith died on a rural road in Hampton County in 2015, in what was ruled a hit and run. However, his mother, Sandy, told the Hampton County Guardian, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2015 that she believed her son’s death was the result of a criminal act and a possible hate crime. because his son was gay.
The series of cascading events put the famous Murdaugh family in the spotlight.
Alex Murdaugh’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father were continuously elected prosecutors in the area for 85 years. Alex Murdaugh also volunteered for the DA’s office, helping his father who remained a paid contract employee, after a new lawyer took over.
Previously:South Carolina Police are investigating allegations that Alex Murdaugh took money from a law firm
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can call the United States National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) anytime, day or night, or have a chat. in line.
Crisis Text Line also provides free confidential 24/7 SMS support to people in crisis when they dial 741741.
DeWitt reported from Hampton, South Carolina. Miller reported from New York.