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SC attorney Alex Murdaugh gets $20,000 bond on criminal charges

Murdaugh is accused of hiring someone to kill him so his surviving son would get his $10 million life insurance policy.

HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. — Alex Murdaugh, a well-known South Carolina attorney who just weeks earlier was taken to the hospital for a gunshot wound, has been arrested and charged in connection to a failed effort to have someone kill him.

At a hearing Thursday afternoon at the Hampton County, SC jail, he was given a $20,000 personal recognizance bond, which means he doesn't have to pay any money unless he breaks the conditions of his bond. Murdaugh came into the court wearing a jail-issued jumpsuit and in handcuffs.

According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the 53-year-old was placed under arrest Thursday after surrendering to authorities at the Hampton County Detention Center. 

The agency reports that Murdaugh conspired with another man, Curtis Edward Smith, to commit suicide "for the explicit purpose of allowing a beneficiary to collect life insurance."

For the alleged crime, Murdaugh now faces charges of fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.

In addition to the bond, Murdaugh must surrender his passport. During the hearing his attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said his client would be going to rehab in another state. Harpootlian said his client has had a 20-year long addiction to opiods. 

As he heard his attorney describe his addition and the recent deaths of Murdaugh's wife and son, Murdaugh could be seen crying in court. 

"I can assure you that SLED agents will continue working to bring justice to anyone involved with any criminal act associated with these ongoing investigations," SLED Chief Mark Keel said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. "The arrests, in this case, are only the first step in that process."

Jim Griffin, Murdaugh's attorney, had said Wednesday a warrant was issued for his client's arrest.

The alleged shooter, Curtis Edward Smith, was charged with assisted suicide, insurance fraud, and several other counts in the shooting of Murdaugh on a lonely highway in Hampton County.

Murdaugh gave Smith the gun to kill him and he followed Murdaugh to Old Salkehatchie Road, firing one shot at the lawyer as he stood in the road, an agent said in a sworn statement. 

But that bullet only grazed Murdaugh's head and he was able to call 911 for help, authorities said. Murdaugh's lawyer said last week his skull was fractured by the bullet.

Murdaugh wanted Smith to kill him so his surviving son would get his $10 million life insurance policy, state agents said.

The latest updates come as Murdaugh sees his law license suspended and accusations from his law firm that he took money from them.

All the while, SLED continues to investigate the deaths of his wife Maggie and son Paul in June.

According to the Associated Press, Murdaugh found his wife and son shot several times outside a home on the family’s Colleton County land after checking on his seriously ill father.

AP also reports that Paul's death came as he was awaiting trial for boating under the influence and causing a 2019 crash that killed a 19-year-old woman. He had pleaded not guilty.

After the deaths of Paul and Maggie, state agents reopened an investigation into a hit-and-run death in 2015 in which the victim's mother allegedly believed Paul may have been involved.

However, according to the Associated Press, authorities haven't said why those cases were reopened.