South Carolina judge refuses to cut bond for Alex Murdaugh
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Judge Alison Lee, presiding judge of the South Carolina State Grand Jury, on Tuesday denied Alex Murdaugh’s motion to reconsider his bond.
An order filed Tuesday by Lee states that the court finds the current bond is reasonable to assure Murdaugh’s appearance in court “as Defendant remains a flight risk and potential danger to himself and the community.”
The order came about a week after a hearing where the defense and prosecution called multiple people as the prominent South Carolina attorney sought a reduction in bond.
Lee had set a $7 million surety bond for Murdaugh on Dec. 13 on a total of 48 charges from multiple state grand jury indictments. That bond also included GPS monitoring, house arrest and a requirement that he surrender his passport and waive extradition if he leaves the state. Lee had also required Murdaugh to undergo substance abuse counseling and random drug testing at a residential facility within the state.
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Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian told the court at the hearing that “any significant surety bond is the same as no bond,” and the idea his client is a threat to the community is “bogus.”
“He has no cash. When he needed money for his son, his only solution was to have himself shot in the head,” Harpootlian said, referencing the failed suicide for hire plot in 2021.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters called Murdaugh’s case a “unique” one for his connections as part of an influential family in South Carolina law, and argued that the danger to the community is real.
Waters told the court that Murdaugh’s victims have experienced backlash in going against Murdaugh family.
“[They] thought he was their friend and used that to steal their money,” Waters said.
According to Waters, the state is monitoring Murdaugh’s jail calls, where he is reportedly talking about using his retirement funds and appears to be “not a man concerned about spending money … and acts like he has assets in his control.”
Eric Bland on behalf of the Satterfield family said there was “tremendous” concern about Murdaugh’s life and past suicidal attempt.
“He holds all the answers,” Bland said and asked the court if bond was lowered to ensure that Murdaugh is confined to his home.
Attorney Justin Bamberg, who represents several other victims, says “committing suicide is the ultimate attempt to flee,” and requested the court to maintain the current bond.
“These are people who suffered physical harm, the money that was misappropriated… wasn’t fun money,” Bamberg said.
Murdaugh’s attorneys, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin say an email from court-appointed co-receivers of his assets shows less than $10,000 in Murdaugh’s account, arguing that bond amount was “tantamount to no bond at all.”
Murdaugh told the court he understands there may be concerns that he could be a danger to himself in connection with a Labor Day weekend shooting in which he was wounded and later accused of hiring someone to fatally shoot him as part of an insurance fraud scheme.
“I made a terrible decision that I regret and frankly I’m embarrassed about,” Murdaugh said. “I’m not in that place now.”
From reports by WCSC and WRDW/WAGT
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