State Watch

South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh told a former client to kill him, authorities say

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South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh told a former client to shoot him, and the client now faces charges including assisted suicide, authorities said in a statement.

Murdaugh was shot in the head on Saturday one day after resigning from his law firm amid allegations that he misused funds. Murdaugh survived the shooting and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Authorities initially said that Murdaugh called 911 after being shot in the head while changing a tire on the side of a road in Hampton County.

According to an affidavit released by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Murdaugh admitted on Monday to having Curtis Edward Smith shoot him so that his son could collect a life insurance policy valued at approximately $10 million.

Smith admitted on Tuesday to being present during Murdaugh’s shooting and to disposing the firearm afterward. Smith now faces multiple charges in the Sept. 4 shooting.

According to the affidavit, Murdaugh provided Smith with a firearm and directed Smith to shoot him in the head. Smith shot Murdaugh as he stood in the roadway and disposed of the firearm in an unknown location.

During a Wednesday interview on NBC’s “Today,” Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian explained that his client had fallen into depression after his wife and son were found shot to death on their family hunting property in June.

Harpootlian said his client believed the life insurance policy had a suicide exclusion but didn’t realize that suicide exclusions are only good for two years.

“It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child,” Harpootlian said. “He didn’t want law enforcement spending more time on this fake crime instead of solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.”

Smith, 61, was charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, SLED said.

Murdaugh was not charged Tuesday, though the affidavit referred to him as a “co-defendant.” More charges are expected in the case. 

Murdaugh represented Smith in 2015 in a lawsuit against a forest management company, according to The New York Times. Murdaugh also represented Smith for a speeding ticket in 2013. 


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