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Lawyer Alex Murdaugh staged his own death under insurance plan, but shot grazed head, police say

COLUMBIA, SC (AP) – A prominent South Carolina lawyer who found the bodies of his wife and son three months ago attempted to stage his own death earlier this month so that his son receives a life insurance payment of $ 10 million, but the expected death a bullet only grazed his head, state police said on Tuesday.

The shooter, Curtis Edward Smith, has been charged with assisted suicide, insurance fraud and several other counts in the September 4 shooting of Alex Murdaugh on a secluded road in Hampton County, the report said. state law enforcement division in a statement.

Murdaugh was not charged Tuesday night, but officers said more charges were expected.

Murdaugh gave Smith the gun to kill him and he followed Murdaugh to Old Salkehatchie Road, firing a shot at the lawyer as he stood in the road, an officer said in a statement under oath.

But that bullet only grazed Murdaugh’s head and he was able to call 911 for help, authorities said. Murdaugh’s attorney said last week his skull was fractured by the bullet.

Murdaugh wanted Smith to kill him so his surviving son could get his $ 10 million life insurance policy, state agents said.

Smith left after the shooting and disposed of the gun, authorities said.

State agents said Murdaugh admitted to attempting to stage his own death on Monday. Murdaugh’s attorney, Jim Griffin, did not respond to a text late Tuesday night.

Murdaugh said last week through a family spokesperson that he pulled over after the low tire pressure warning light on his Mercedes SUV came on. A man passing by in a van asked if he was having any car problems and shot him.

Officers said Smith, 61, confessed on Tuesday and was charged with assisted suicide, highly aggravated assault and battery, pointing and presenting a gun, insurance fraud, conspiracy in sight to commit insurance fraud, distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.

It was not immediately clear whether he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf. Colleton County court records showed Murdaugh had been Smith’s attorney in a speeding case in 2013.

The June 7 murders of Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and her son Paul Murdaugh, 22, remain unsolved. Alex Murdaugh discovered the bodies of his wife and son at their home in Colleton County. Both had been shot several times.

Murdaugh announced two days after the shooting that he was going to rehab for opioid addiction. He apologized to his family and said he was leaving his law firm.

“The murders of my wife and my son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I made a lot of decisions that I really regret, ”Murdaugh said without going into detail.

Hours later, law firm PMPED announced that Murdaugh had taken money from the company and was fired from the firm. The amount was not announced.

Along with the Maggie and Paul Murdaugh murders and the shooting of Alex Murdaugh, the state’s Law Enforcement Division is also investigating the missing money, if anyone has attempted to obstruct an investigation. on a 2019 boating accident with which Paul Murdaugh was ultimately charged and a July 2015 hit-and-run death in Hampton County.

Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served as lawyers in the area for over 80 years and other family members were prominent civil lawyers in the area. .

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