Alex Murdaugh Mentally Unstable, Dangerous, Judge Says Before Denying Bond Again

A judge denied prominent South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh bond Tuesday in his pending insurance fraud trial, citing his financial resources and mental instability as reasons to not allow it, the Associated Press reported.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman asked Murdaugh's lawyers to send a report on Murdaugh's mental condition when initially denying him bond on October 19. After reviewing the report, Newman had to deny it a second time, AP reported.

"After considering the arguments of counsel, the evaluation submitted, then 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 his community," Newman wrote.

Intensifying the scrutiny around Murdaugh is that he found his wife Maggie and son Paul shot to death five months ago. AP reported that there are still no suspects named in the killings.

The bond denial could mean months to years behind bars as Murdaugh awaits his trial. Murdaugh faces charges that he stole $3.4 million of insurance money that was meant to go to the sons of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh's housekeeper who died in 2018 a few weeks after falling in the Murdaugh home.

Murdaugh is also awaiting a separate trial for charges that he tried to stage his own death so his surviving son could get a $10 million insurance payout.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Alex Murdaugh, insurance fraud, bond hearing
A judge in South Carolina denied bond for attorney Alex Murdaugh on the second set of charges he has faced since finding his wife and son dead last June. Above, Murdaugh attends a bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, S.C., Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Lewis M. Levine, Pool/AP Photo

Defense attorney Dick Harpootlian said Wednesday that Murdaugh is disappointed by the denial, and his team is weighing legal options.

Murdaugh's lawyers didn't immediately respond to the bond denial. They had asked the judge to release Murdaugh on his own recognizance, like another judge did in September pending his other trial. Prosecutors had asked for a $200,000 bond and GPS monitoring.

If convicted in the Gloria Satterfield case, Murdaugh can face up to 10 years in prison. Murdaugh told Satterfield's sons he would help them get settlements for her death, recommending they hire an attorney who was a family friend without telling them about the relationship, according to a lawsuit filed by the sons.

Murdaugh negotiated more than $4 million in payments, then had the checks—minus fees and attorney payments—sent to a fraudulent bank account, investigators said.

The attorneys for Satterfield's family said they are glad to see that Murdaugh isn't getting special treatment from the judicial system.

"Since the original bond hearing Alex Murdaugh has taken financial actions which clearly show that he has no respect for the judicial process, legitimate creditors and victims of his criminal activities and that the ordinary rules do not apply to him," attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter said in a statement.

Murdaugh was arrested for the first time in September after making another 911 call. He initially told police someone shot at him after he had a flat tire on a lonely road and the bullet grazed his head.

He later told investigators that Curtis "Eddie" Smith agreed to kill him, with nothing offered in exchange, authorities said. Smith, meanwhile, said his friend Murdaugh called him for help without being specific on September 4 and when he saw Murdaugh with the gun, he tried to grab it and it fired.

Both Murdaugh and Smith were indicted by a grand jury in Hampton County last week on charge of conspiracy, false claim for payment and filing a false police report. They face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on all of the charges.

The two insurance cases aren't the only seven-figure stolen money investigations involving Murdaugh that state police are handling. Murdaugh's former law firm—founded by his great-grandfather a century ago—has accused him of stealing possibly millions of dollars.

And Murdaugh lost control of his finances last week after a judge in a wrongful death lawsuit ruled the attorney and his family appeared to be trying to hide millions of dollars that could be collected in legal actions. That judge tore up a power of attorney agreement that gave control over all of Murdaugh's money and legal affairs to his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh.

The family of a 19-year-old girl who died in a boat crash in 2019 sued the Murdaugh family; Paul Murdaugh was facing charges of boating under the influence causing death when he was shot to death.

The independent lawyers monitoring Alex Murdaugh's affairs have already asked the court to stop any payment to Murdaugh's brother, who said he is owed $90,000 he loaned to help his brother make payroll and go to rehab before his initial arrest, and to Murdaugh's former law firm, which said it loaned him $470,000 in 2021 before determining he was stealing money.

Both lawsuits over the debts were filed after lawyers in the wrongful death suit asked for the independent monitors.

Alex Murdaugh, insurance fraud, bond hearing
A judge in South Carolina denied bond for attorney Alex Murdaugh on the second set of charges he has faced since finding his wife and son dead last June. Above, Murdaugh awaits the beginning of his bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, South Carolina, on October 19, 2021. Lewis M. Levine, Pool/AP Photo