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Accused Killer Alex Murdaugh Denied Bond In Double Homicide

Prosecutor: the evidence in the case against Alex Murdaugh is “substantial.”

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Murdaugh

By LIZ FARRELL, WILL FOLKS and  MANDY MATNEY ||

Former 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office prosecutor Alex Murdaugh — who stands accused of trying to fake his own death, stealing millions of dollars from clients, money laundering, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and, the latest, killing his wife and son in cold blood last year — was denied bond on the murder charges Wednesday morning at Colleton County Courthouse.

The decision marks the third time Judge Clifton Newman has withheld bond in Murdaugh’s case and represents yet another loss for his high-priced defense team.

“The evidence in this case is substantial,” Prosecutor Creighton Waters said Wednesday. “It all comes back to Alex Murdaugh.”

Both the prosecution and the defense agreed to deny Murdaugh’s bond.

After a 13-month investigation by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the state Attorney General’s Office, the Colleton County grand jury indicted Murdaugh, a former attorney, on two counts of murder and two counts of possession of a deadly weapon in commission of a violent crime last week for the June 7, 2021 shooting deaths of his wife Maggie Murdaugh, 52, and son Paul Murdaugh, 22.

The prosecution did not discuss any details of the case. The public still does not know why the state believes Alex Murdaugh killed his wife and son.

The hearing Wednesday was centered on limiting the public’s access to details about one of the biggest criminal cases in South Carolina history.


Harpootlian and Waters both argued for a confidentiality order in the high-profile case.

But Newman, who thus far has proven himself to be a judge who believes in the public’s ability to access the court matters, seemed reluctant.

“It’s a public matter. It’s a public trial,” Newman said, noting that such public access helps ensure a fair and impartial trial. “Public matters will be public.”

Harpootlian told the judge that already information had leaked from the investigation, but that he saw no evidence that Waters had made any extrajudicial statements.

“Anyone who reads this constant churning knows that someone is [leaking]” Harpootlian said gesturing to the media box to the left of the courtroom.

Murdaugh pleaded not guilty Wednesday. Harpootlian said his client believes he is innocent and is concerned that the real killer(s) is/are still at large.

No family members appeared to attend the hearing.

The section of seats behind Murdaugh was largely unoccupied.

Joe McCulloch, attorney for Connor Cook, was in attendance and sat behind Murdaugh’s side of the courtroom.

Murdaugh appeared significantly thinner and his hair had been closely cropped. He was wearing a white linen shirt and khakis brought to him by his attorneys.

After the hearing, Harpootlian and Griffin walked past a pool of microphones where two dozen news reporters were waiting for a press conference. When a reporter asked Harpootlian for comment, he said “I’m gagged.”

Yet, Newman had not yet decided on the gag order.

Through his attorneys, Murdaugh has denied any connection to the murders of his wife and son. On July 14, minutes after the indictments were handed down, he accused law enforcement of targeting him from “Day One” and demanded a “speedy trial” within 60 days.

Murdaugh has been detained at Richland County detention center in Columbia, South Carolina since last October in lieu of posting a $7 million bond. The disbarred lawyer appeared in person at the hearing Wednesday morning.

Murdaugh is being represented by Columbia attorney Jim Griffin and state Sen. Dick Harpootlian — two of the most expensive defense attorneys in South Carolina. Yet, Griffin and Harpootlian have lost at nearly every single twist and turn throughout this saga.

The Murdaugh Murders Saga has attracted consistent national and international attention since the murders in June 2021. 

The politically connected and powerful family has a long history in South Carolina, for generations reining over a small rural area of the Lowcountry. 

Since 1920, three generations of Murdaughs served consecutively as chief prosecutor of the 14th Circuit, which includes Hampton County — where Alex Murdaugh lived — as well as Colleton County, where he will stand trial for the deaths of his wife and son.

Judge Newman

Murdaugh himself served as a volunteer prosecutor for the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office up until September 2021, just before his law license was suspended by the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Two days before murder charges were announced, the Supreme Court ordered Murdaugh disbarred from practicing law in the state.

Murdaugh’s reputation quickly unraveled last summer soon after 14th Solicitor Duffie Stone — who has a long list of close ties with the Murdaugh family — suddenly recused himself from the double homicide investigation, which immediately increased public speculation surrounding Murdaugh’s involvement in the double homicide.

On September 4, he allegedly propositioned Curtis Eddie Smith to shoot him in the head on the side of a rural Hampton County road. While Murdaugh claimed he did this to defraud his insurance company, many speculate the roadside shooting was a ploy by Alex to sway public sympathy, distract investigators, and make it appear as if his family was being targeted.

However, the plan almost immediately backfired for Murdaugh. Days after the “shooting”, a family spokesperson released a statement saying that Alex was going into rehab and resigning from the law firm built by his family —  Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick (PMPED), which is now known as Parker Law Group.

Later, the law firm confirmed that he had been “pushed out” and resigned on Friday, September 3, 2021. He was suspended by the S.C. Supreme Court days later and SLED opened an investigation into missing money at the law firm.

In the 10 months since he was initially arrested, Alex Murdaugh has been hit with nearly monthly rounds of indictments — accusing him of stealing settlement money from at least 15 clients, including a deaf paraplegic man’s family and an injured highway patrolman.

Five Deaths

Aside from the double homicide of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, authorities have identified three mysterious deaths tied to Alex Murdaugh and his family members — Stephen Smith, Gloria Satterfield and Mallory Beach. 

In 2015, Stephen Smith was found murdered in the middle of a rural Hampton County road. 

His death was mysteriously ruled a hit and run  — despite the fact that investigators found no evidence of a vehicular homicide. 

The Murdaugh name was mentioned over 40 times throughout the course of the investigation. 

However, because the case was steered off course initially, it was never investigated properly by the Highway Patrol and it went cold in 2016. 

On June 22, 2021 the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) opened an investigation into the death of Stephen Smith “based on information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh.”

Authorities have still not said what they found to link the two investigations. His murder is still unsolved. 

mallory beach
A meme that appeared on Facebook after Mallory’s death in 2019.

Gloria Satterfield died in 2018 after allegedly falling on the Murdaugh’s steps at Moselle. After her death, Alex Murdaugh stole $3.6 million from Satterfield’s wrongful death settlement against him and his insurance companies. The family didn’t find out about the entire settlement until they hired attorneys Eric Bland and Ronald Richter in late 2021.

SLED has opened an investigation into Satterfield’s death and financial crimes related to her death settlement. Recently, Satterfield’s family gave SLED permission to exhume her body. 

In 2019, 19-year-old Mallory Beach was killed in a boat crash near Parris Island, South Carolina. 

The boat crash is often referred to as “ground zero” for those following the case closely — because it was the first major event that thrust the legal dynasty into the media spotlight. 

Paul Murdaugh was charged with three felony boating under the influence counts in that crash which could have amounted to over 30 years in prison had he not been murdered last year. 

The state Grand Jury is still investigating the boat crash case to find out whether or not the Murdaugh family obstructed justice in the chaotic aftermath. The Murdaugh family faces a slew of active civil lawsuits in the boat crash case from victims seeking justice. 


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Provided)

Liz Farrell is the new executive editor at FITSNews. She was named 2018’s top columnist in the state by South Carolina Press Association and is back after taking a nearly two-year break from corporate journalism to reclaim her soul. Email her at [email protected] or tweet her @ElizFarrell.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR..

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Durham Bulls’ lid pictured above).

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Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy here at FITSNews! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.

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