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Lowcountry Headlines


Judge denies bond for Alex Murdaugh

Law theme. Judge chamber.

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - A judge denied bond for Alex Murdaugh weeks after a bond hearing was held in Columbia.

Murdaugh is facing two counts of obtaining property under 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 issued an order Tuesday stating the court had received a psychiatric evaluation of Murdaugh dated Oct. 22.

“After considering the arguments of counsel, the 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,” Newman wrote in the order that denied bond.

During Murdaugh’s October bond hearing, 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 the psychiatric evaluation. The results of that evaluation will have to be submitted to the court for future consideration, he said.

Attorneys Eric Bland and Ronnie Richter, who represent the family of Satterfield, released the following statement after bond was denied:

Judge Newman continues to exercise the correct judicial temperament in connection with the nature of the pending charges and Alex Murdaugh’s clear and present danger to the community and to himself. This case and the crimes are unique. Ordinary bond rules are not applicable in our view. While we have not seen the required psychiatric evaluation of Alex Murdaugh, we really do not need to. 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. These financial transactions and how they were manipulated by Alex Murdaugh and those close to him show that in addition, he represents a flight risk. The justice system continues to work as intended regarding Alex Murdaugh and theSatterfieldshave confidence that with the installation of the court-appointed receiver and continued oversight by judges like Judge Newman, Alex Murdaugh will no longer be receiving favorable treatment but will be drinking from the same cup of justice that’s every other charged criminal in the state drinks from.

At the time of Murdaugh’s arrest in Florida on the two charges, he was out on bond on an insurance fraud charge after police say he tried to arrange his own death.

SLED officials announced in September that they were opening a criminal investigation into Satterfield’s death as well as the handling of her estate after a request from the Hampton County Coroner’s Office as well as information gathered during the course of other ongoing investigations into Alex Murdaugh.

In a letter addressed to SLED Chief Mark Keel, Coroner Angela Topper requested the assistance of his agency in Satterfield’s death citing a petition involving a wrongful death settlement which stated that Satterfield died as a result of injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident in Hampton County.

Topper said Satterfield’s death was not reported to the coroner at that time and there was no autopsy performed.

Topper also said that the death certificate manner of death was ruled “Natural” which she said was inconsistent with injuries sustained in a trip and fall accident. In light of those inconsistencies, Topper wrote she felt it was “prudent” to pursue an investigation into Satterfield’s death.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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