Judge Keeps Alex Murdaugh In Jail, Calls Him A ‘Danger’ To Himself
State (Columbia, SC)
A South Carolina judge has denied accused embezzler Alex Murdaugh bond, meaning the suspended Lowcountry attorney will remain behind bars for the time being.
"After considering the arguments of counsel, the (psychiatric) evaluation submitted, pending charges and other investigations, and the apparent character and mental condition of the defendant, the Court finds that the Defendant is a danger both to himself and the community," Judge Clifton Newman wrote in an order entered Tuesday after he reviewed Murdaugh's psychiatric evaluation.
The judge did not make the psychiatric evaluation public nor did he characterize its findings.
Murdaugh faces criminal charges of embezzling $3.3 million from the estate of his late housekeeper and insurance fraud in connection with staging a fake suicide so his sole surviving son, Buster, could collect on a $10 million insurance policy.
"We appreciate the court's concern about Alex's well being and whether he is at risk of harming himself," said Jim Griffin, one of Murdaugh's attorneys. "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision to deny bond. We are reviewing the order and evaluating our options."
Newman previously denied Murdaugh bond on Oct. 19 in Richland County. But until now, he had not entered a written order.
At that hearing, Murdaugh's lawyers said they would retain a psychiatrist to evaluate Murdaugh, who only months ago held a prominent position in South Carolina's legal community. Murdaugh, 53, is not only a former president of the state trial lawyers' association, but he is a fourth-generation member of a family dynasty that before him produced three successive generations of elected solicitors, or prosecutors, in the Lowcountry.
Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, Columbia attorneys who represent Murdaugh's deceased housekeeper's estate, released a statement saying they agreed with Newman's finding that Murdaugh posed a danger to himself and the community and that he should continue to be held without bond.
"This case and the crimes are unique. Ordinary bond rules are not applicable in our view," the lawyers said.
Newman's order is another major legal blow dealt to Murdaugh, whose law license was suspended by the S.C. Supreme Court in September after allegations surfaced that he embezzled money from clients at his former law firm, PMPED, of Hampton County. No criminal charges have been filed in that case.
Last week, Judge Daniel Hall ordered that all of Murdaugh's assets be put under the control of two receivers, attorneys Peter McCoy and John Lay. They now have the authority to inventory Murdaugh's property and finances and approve any spending decisions he or Buster wish to make.
Hall issued his order Nov. 1 after hearing arguments from attorney Mark Tinsley, who represents the estate of the late Mallory Beach, that Murdaugh may be hiding assets in an attempt to shield those assets from a lawsuit Tinsley brought against Murdaugh on the Beach estate's behalf.
Murdaugh is a defendant in a lawsuit Tinsley brought in connection with Beach's death in a 2019 boat crash. The boat was allegedly driven by Murdaugh's late son, Paul.
This story will be updated.
This story was originally published November 10, 2021 8:53 AM.
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