BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Disbarred attorney Alex Murdaugh appeared for a state court hearing in Beaufort County on Thursday for a myriad of financial crimes committed against his former clients, like the family of his former longtime housekeeper.
And only months after being found guilty of the killings of his wife and youngest son earlier this year, Murdaugh will be heading back to trial only days after the Thanksgiving holiday – this time over the financial crimes committed against the family of his former housekeeper.
Murdaugh was present for Thursday’s hearing — he entered the courtroom wearing a bright orange South Carolina Department of Corrections jumpsuit. He has been serving a life sentence at a maximum-security prison since March.
“Mr. Murdaugh remains the state’s priority and we believe the case that is the priority is the case involving Ms. Satterfield,” said State Prosecutor Creighton Waters during Thursday’s hearing.
Waters told Judge Clifton Newman that he would be ready whenever the judge decided to schedule the trial. But Murdaugh’s defense attorney, Dick Harpootlian, said his schedule was basically full through the end of the year.
“I’m bewildered by this,” said Harpootlian. “Surely, they can do it, but why? Why? What is the hurry?”
Judge Newman gave the lawyers three dates before the end of the year to begin the trial related to Gloria Satterfield and the wrongful death settlement. Harpootlian said November 27, the Monday after Thanksgiving, was the best of those options.
Waters said Murdaugh faces numerous indictments, including at least one charge each in Orangeburg, Bamberg, Allendale, Beaufort, Colleton, and Hampton counties.
Waters said the highest dollar amount a victim lost in the cases was Gloria Satterfield’s family in Beaufort County.
The former attorney and convicted murderer is accused of stealing several million dollars from them after they were awarded millions in a wrongful death settlement. So, this will be the focus of the first of several state trials related to financial crimes.
Murdaugh’s lawyers say he is planning to submit a guilty plea to separate federal financial charges as early as Friday.
“We’ll be filing a formal plea agreement, probably tomorrow, where he has agreed to plead guilty to all the pending charges,” said attorney Jim Griffin. “A cooperation agreement. But until the court accepts the plea, it’s not done.”
The next trial of Alex Murdaugh is set to begin the week after Thanksgiving, on November 27th. It will take place at the Beaufort County Courthouse.