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Alex Murdaugh's lawyers request preliminary hearing in insurance fraud case. What to know

Jake Shore and John Monk, The State on

Published in News & Features

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh have requested a preliminary hearing on charges related to an alleged failed suicide plot on Sept. 4 for a $10 million insurance payout.

The hearing will take place in front of a Hampton County magistrate and has yet to be scheduled.

Murdaugh turned himself in to the Hampton County Detention Center on Sept. 16. The suspended Hampton lawyer faces charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud and falsifying a police report.

The S.C. Law Enforcement Division charged him and client Curtis Edward Smith in an alleged scheme for Smith to shoot and kill Murdaugh on a rural Hampton County road in order to collect a life insurance policy for Murdaugh’s surviving son, Buster.

Murdaugh’s lawyers sent the request on Thursday, according to documents. The hearing sets up a possible showdown between prosecutors from the S.C. Attorney General’s office and defense lawyers Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin.

Murdaugh is currently in an out-of-state rehabilitation facility, as part of his $20,000 personal recognizance bond.

 

Murdaugh’s wife, Maggie, and other son, Paul, were shot and killed on June 7 at their Islandton home. The case still under investigation by SLED that has attracted national and statewide attention.

In addition to those two murders and the insurance fraud charges, investigations now involving Murdaugh include three untimely deaths, the alleged embezzlement of millions from his former law firm and an alleged scheme to divert insurance money from the estate of his late housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield. SLED is investigating all of those.

The purpose of preliminary hearings in South Carolina is to establish whether police have “probable cause” when they arrest someone.

“Probable cause” is a standard of proof meaning that police have some reasonable belief to suspect a crime has been committed, but it is not as strong a standard of proof as the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard needed to find a person guilty of committed a crime.

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