The bonds are personal recognizance, meaning he will be released on his promise to appear in court later without having to pay cash. He also surrendered his passport to state police, but will be allowed to return to the out-of-state rehab facility where he’s been.
Creighton Waters with the state Attorney General’s Office, who is prosecuting the case, asked magistrate Judge Tonja Alexander to consider Murdaugh a flight risk, requesting that he be fitted with a GPS monitor and asking for bond to be set at $100,000.
“I’ve seen these types of case before,” Waters said. “Sometimes those who had everything and are suffering a possible fall from grace are actually more of a concern than a hardened criminal who’s been in this situation before.”
Murdaugh, 53, who was shot in the head on Sept. 4, had originally told police someone shot him as he was fixing a flat tire on his car on the side of a rural Hampton County road. He was flown to a Savannah hospital for treatment, and then entered an out-of-state drug rehab facility.
Murdaugh’s attorney Dick Harpootlian described his client’s injury from the shooting, mentioning a possible skull fracture and minor brain bleed. But cameras trained on the back of Murdaugh’s head showed no visible wound.
During the bond hearing, Harpootlian painted Murdaugh as a victim of a 20-year opioid addiction and said the murders of his wife and son in June “put him over the edge.”
Murdaugh began crying.
“He has fallen from grace,” Harpootlian said, adding that Murdaugh had shown no evidence that he is a danger to the community or a flight risk. Setting a high bond is unnecessary, his lawyer said. “He’s not a man of significant means anymore.”
Four bailiffs stood near the door of the small courtroom as Murdaugh, appearing tall and gangly and wearing glasses and a white cloth mask, waited for paperwork to be processed after bond had been set. He spoke very softly with his attorneys.
Before the hearing, Murdaugh’s lawyers, Harpootlian and Jim Griffin, fielded a few questions from reporters.
“What’s Alex Murdaugh’s state of mind right now?” one reporter asked.
“He’s in jail,” Harpootlian said. “That’s his state of mind.”
Conspiracy and investigations
On Monday, Murdaugh confessed to police that the attempted murder story was a lie and said he had conspired with 61-year-old Curtis Edward Smith in the shooting.
Smith, a former client of Murdaugh’s from a 2010 personal injury lawsuit, was arrested Tuesday on charges of assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Smith was granted a total cash surety bond of $55,000 for all four charges Wednesday morning.
Thursday’s hearing came more than three months after Murdaugh called 911 to report that he had found his younger son, Paul, and wife, Maggie, shot to death at their Colleton County estate on June 7. The double murder remains unsolved.
Since the murders, the S.C. Law Enforcement Division has opened multiple other investigations connected to the family, including reopening a 2015 cold case involving the death of a 19-year-old, looking into how much money Alex Murdaugh allegedly stole from his family’s law firm, and investigating the 2018 death of the Murdaugh family’s former housekeeper and nanny, who died after a “trip and fall” incident in their house.
On Thursday, 73-year-old Rev. Willie Rakes stood outside the jail in the rain to support his lawyer.
The Varnville pastor said he hired Murdaugh after getting into a crash in Beaufort two years ago while working as a truck driver. He said Murdaugh’s father and grandfather had represented his family members in other cases.
He said his case is ongoing, and he spoke to Murdaugh about it as recently as two weeks ago.
“I tell you... it’s unbelievable,” Rakes said. “I’m praying for the family, man.”
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