Judge denies Murdaugh request for attorney’s fees in murder appeal

A circuit judge denied a motion filed by an attorney of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh that sought attorney’s fees to cover his appeal.
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 3:27 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2023 at 1:53 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A circuit judge denied a motion filed by an attorney of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh that sought attorney’s fees to cover his appeal.

Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Daniel Hall filed the order denying the request Friday afternoon.

Attorney Jim Griffin, who helped lead the defense for Murdaugh, who was charged with the June 2021 double murder of his wife and their son; asked Hall to release an additional $160,000 from Murdaugh’s retirement account to pay for his appeal of his life sentence. Griffin argued the six-week murder trial exhausted the $600,000 they were initially given.

Murdaugh, 54, was convicted in March. Prosecutors said he stole millions of dollars and found himself teetering on financial disaster, which led him to shoot to death his 22-year-old son, Paul, and 52-year-old wife, Maggie, at their Colleton County home.

Attorney Eric Bland, who represents the family of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s longtime housekeeper who died in a fall at the Murdaugh home in 2018, responded to the judge’s decision on Twitter:

“Feeling really good with Judge Hall’s ruling denying Alex Murdaugh’s request for $160,000 of attorney’s fees for his appeal,” Bland wrote. “Receiver John T. Lay and I argued against Alex’s request. I argued it would be unfair to Alex’s victims and creditors to permit him to jump to the front of the line and grab that money.”

Besides the eventual appeal of the murder convictions, Murdaugh’s lawyers are also fighting a lawsuit against him filed by Nautilus Insurance Co., which paid out nearly $4 million to settle claims in the aftermath of Satterfield’s death.

SPECIAL SECTION: The Murdaugh Cases

Satterfield’s family said they never received the money. Bland said Murdaugh never told them about the settlement and pocketed the money after convincing Satterfield’s sons to use a lawyer as their representative who was a family friend. Nautilus is suing in federal court to get the money back.

Murdaugh’s lawyers suggested Nautilus take legal action against Satterfield’s family members, saying they collected more than $7 million in settlements and other fees. However, Bland said Nautilus has no claim against the family because they didn’t receive the insurance money.

Its investigators should have looked more thoroughly into Murdaugh’s account of Satterfield’s death — which changed recently — before paying, Bland said. Murdaugh previously said Satterfield died in a fall but now says he doesn’t remember.

“This is nothing but noise,” Bland said. “Just gutless people trying to continue to victimize Gloria’s siblings and children.”

Meanwhile, Murdaugh is awaiting trial on over 100 other criminal charges, including insurance fraud for trying to arrange his own death and money laundering. He is also charged with tax evasion. From 2011 to 2021, Murdaugh made about $16 million as a lawyer, while stealing about $9 million from his law firm, settlement money for clients and other places, according to indictments.