COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC/AP) - A judge presiding over the bond hearing for attorney Alex Murdaugh did not set bond for him Tuesday morning on two felony counts.
Murdaugh is charged with two felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division says Murdaugh stole $3.4 million in insurance payments that were meant for the sons of his housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died after a fall at the Murdaugh home in February 2016.
Judge Clifton Newman listened to attorneys for the state, Murdaugh and Satterfield’s estate and said he was taking into account Murdaugh’s financial and mental resources in his decision. Newman then denied bond pending a psychiatric evaluation. The results of that evaluation will have to be submitted to the court for future consideration, he said.
Before taking a 15-minute recess, Newman said he would not consider a public recognizance bond, which Murdaugh attorney Dick Harpootlian requested. He said the main question for him was whether Murdaugh should be denied bond, which was ultimately the decision he made.
During the bond hearing, an attorney for the state told the judge Murdaugh is “a danger to himself” and is therefore “a danger to other people.” He asked the judge to set a $200,000 surety bond and require Murdaugh to wear a GPS monitor while he is out of jail.
Harpootlian said Murdaugh is not a flight risk and “really has nowhere to go.”Harpootlian said Murdaugh has had at least a decade of opioid addiction and underwent six weeks of detoxing and treatment. He asked the judge to set a public recognizance bond so Murdaugh could return to treatment.
Attorney Eric Bland, who represents Satterfield’s sons, insisted Murdaugh is a “clear and present danger.”
“This is a crime of a lawyer stealing money,” Bland said. “My partner and I have been doing legal malpractice for 30 years and we have never seen such a breach of trust a man who stole money from the very Family of the housekeeper they’d helped raise his kids. This is a crime that we’ve never seen before.”
Ronnie Richter, who also represents Satterfield’s sons, alleged Murdaugh set up a broad power of attorney to his son and asked the court to restrict Murdaugh’s son’s ability to assist in the dispossession of Murdaugh’s assets.
He is already out on bond on an insurance fraud charge after police say he tried to arrange his own death.
The June 7 shooting deaths of Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and son, Paul, remain unresolved.
Copyright 2021 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.