HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – An attorney for Alex Murdaugh, State Senator Dick Harpootlian, appeared on the Today Show with Craig Melvin just hours after a man was arrested for a shooting that happened along the side of a rural road in Hampton County.
News broke late Tuesday night that Murdaugh orchestrated the September 4th shooting so that a beneficiary could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
The man who shot him, 61-year-old Curtis Edwards Smith of Walterboro, was arrested and charged with assisted suicide, assault, and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
According to State Law Enforcement Division, Murdaugh gave Smith the gun and directed Smith to shoot him so that his son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy.
Harpootlian said he and another attorney for Murdaugh, Jim Griffin, traveled to an out-of-state detox facility where they had the “first-ever with him when he wasn’t on opioids or oxy,” Harpootlian said in his Today interview.
Harpootlian said the deaths of Murdaugh’s wife and son, along with the passing of his father from colon cancer took a tremendous toll on him. “He got through it with the use of opioids. Then a week ago, it was uncovered that he had converted some client and law firm money for his own use and spent most of that on opioids.”
The law firm, Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick PA (PMPED) released a statement last week saying Murdaugh resigned on Friday, September 3rd and that he was no longer associated with them. They said Murdaugh misappropriated funds in violation of PMPED standards and policies.
“That Saturday morning, he was trying to get off the opioids; he was not taking any of them, was in a massive depression, realized things were going to get really, really, bad and decided to end his life,” said Harpootlian.
The attorney said Murdaugh believed that his $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion. “Suicide exclusions are only good for two years and he didn’t realize that,” Harpootlian said. “So, he arraigned to have this guy shooting him.”
Harpootlian and Griffin reportedly met with Alex Murdaugh on Monday where he provided a statement to SLED saying he called Smith, met him on the side of the road and agreed to shoot him in the head amid a fake car issue. “30 minutes later, this guy shoots him in the head – didn’t try to persuade him not to do it, didn’t hesitate at all. There was an entrance and exit wound.”
According to Harpootlian, Murdaugh indicated that he “collapsed and was blind for a while before he was taken to the hospital.”
“It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child. He didn’t want law enforcement spending more time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul,” said Harpootlian.
Melvin questioned Harpootlian on his client lying about the shooting and how Murdaugh could be believed regarding the circumstances in which his wife and son were shot to death.
“He is totally distraught. We’ve talked to him at length about it this week,” he replied. “He is distraught about their deaths. He did not murder them.” Harpootlian believes Murdaugh does not know who did it.
The attorneys say they are investigating – outside of law enforcement and SLED – individuals who “may have some culpability or had done it.”
He believes a motive in the shooting of Paul and Margaret was personal.
When asked if he expects his client to be arrested for charges connected to the fake shooting and misappropriated funds, Harpootlian said: “Yes, I think he will be charged.”
Smith appeared in a Colleton County bond court on unrelated drug charges. He is expected in a Hampton County courtroom sometime Wednesday on charges connected to the shooting of Alex Murdaugh.