Alex Murdaugh pleading guilty to some state financial charges as part of plea deal
BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTOC) - Convicted killer and disgraced Lowcountry attorney Alex Murdaugh is pleading guilty to some state financial charges.
The defense and prosecution agreed to a plea deal during a hearing Friday in Beaufort County. Murdaugh was scheduled to face trial beginning on Nov. 27.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters said Murdaugh had signed a plea agreement that covers multiple charges across multiple indictments from multiple counties.
Murdaugh was initially facing around 100 financial crimes in multiple counties across the state.
Waters says the plea deal includes at least one charge for each of the financial crime victims. Now, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to more than 20 of the crimes on that list over the course of around 10 years of defrauding clients and his own law firm.
When answering questions from Judge Clifton Newman Friday, Murdaugh says he’s wanted to face up to his financial crimes for awhile.
“Is there any question in your mind as to whether or not you wish to proceed with this guilty plea?” Newman asked.
“No sir, there is no question in my mind,” Murdaugh said.
“Do you believe you’ve had enough time to think about it?” Newman asked.
“Yes sir, I do. I’ve had a long time to think about it,” Murdaugh said.
“I can imagine,” Newman said.
Prosecutor Creighton waters says in talking to his victims, Murdaugh was successful in his attempts to defraud his clients due to his status in the Lowcountry community.
“Mr. Waters, you don’t know who you’re messing with, I have to live there. There was a palpable fear in those victims, in particularly the initial ones, about coming forward,” said Waters.
“Since he admitted his financial crimes on September 21, he’s been wanting to plead guilty to these and resolve them since then,” said Dick Harpootlian, defense attorney for Murdaugh.
Prosecutor Creighton Waters says once Murdaugh began to have financial troubles in the early 2000s. It set forth a chain of defrauding his clients and his own law firm.
“His insatiable desire for money meant that not only was he taking six and seven figure fees, not only was he borrowing at very favorable rates from the bank, but he also was stealing from these clients,” said Waters.
Judge Newman said he intends to accept the guilty pleas, but will not officially until a hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 28 so victims can be present for sentencing. Murdaugh is expected to be given a 27 year sentence.
Murdaugh pleaded guilty to similar federal financial charges on Sept. 21.
His defense attorneys held a brief news conference Friday after the agreement. They say now that the financial trial is beginning to end, their sights are set on appealing Murdaugh’s murder conviction.
“He feels very comfortable doing prison time for crimes that he did. He knew that he was going to prison. He does not feel comfortable doing prison time for the murders of his wife and son, which he did not do,” said Jim Griffin, attorney for Murdaugh.
Murdaugh was convicted in March of the June 2021 killings of his wife, Maggie, and their son, Paul, at the family’s hunting property in rural Colleton County.
Murdaugh’s attorneys reiterated that they believe, he’ll be exonerated of the murders of his wife and son.
Meanwhile, as part of Friday’s plea agreement, Murdaugh has waived his right to appeal any decisions on the financial crimes he pleaded guilty to.
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