RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Alex Murdaugh appeared in bond court Tuesday morning on charges of obtaining property by false pretenses.
It stems from Murdaugh allegedly taking millions of dollars in a wrongful death lawsuit involving their housekeeper, Gloria Satterfield, who died not long after what was described as a slip and fall accident at the Murdaugh home in 2016.
No autopsy was performed, and a coroner said her death was improperly described as “natural” on her death certificate.
Murdaugh encouraged Satterfield’s sons to hire attorney Cory Fleming, who was a family friend, to help them get insurance settlements for their mother’s death.
Murdaugh negotiated more than $4 million in payments and then had the checks sent to his bank account, according to law enforcement.
The State Law Enforcement Division, who was asked to investigate the matter, later arrested Murdaugh at an Orlando, Florida treatment facility. He was extradited back to South Carolina on charges of obtaining property by false pretenses.
Attorneys asked Judge Clifton Newman for a $200,000 surety bond and GPS monitoring for the charges he now faces. They claimed he is a flight risk and fear he could consider hurting himself based on a previous botched suicide attempt, opioid addiction treatment, and the tragic death of his wife and son over the summer.
Murdaugh’s attorneys said their client has faced addiction to opioids for more than a decade and “needs more treatment.” They also asked for a PR bond in response to the state’s request for a $200k and GPS tracking surety bond.
State Senator and attorney Dick Harpootlian said Murdaugh has “nowhere else to go” and this his client was not a flight risk. He said Murdaugh offered to surrender to the State Law Enforcement Division on the charges and claimed SLED didn’t take the offer and instead arrested him.
Harpootlian said the situation was presented differently.
Attorney Eric Bland, who now represents the Satterfield estate, said Murdaugh has shamed the legal profession and “put a black eye” on the state of South Carolina.
Bland told the court Murdaugh did not deserve bond and should be “locked up” so that he cannot hurt anyone else. Bland also claimed Murdaugh has been active financially up until this past week.
Attorney Ronnie Richter asked Judge Newman for a $4.3 million bond to match the missing death settlement money from the Estate of Gloria Satterfield.
RAW VIDEO: Alex Murdaugh bond hearing
Harpootlian argued Murdaugh was not the lawyer in the Satterfield settlement but was rather the defendant. “He had no control over the money,” and said blame should be on Cory Fleming who represented Satterfield.
But attorneys representing the Satterfield estate said that was not exactly true. They said Murdaugh used his position, his prestige, and his reputation as a lawyer to steal from Satterfield’s family. “They trusted him because they knew of his reputation as a lawyer. They listened to him when he took them to Mr. Fleming and they believed him when talked about the case.”
Prior to taking a brief recess, Judge Newman told the court he would not consider a PR bond, but would make a decision on whether or not to deny the bond altogether.
Murdaugh previously surrendered his passport to SLED during a bond hearing related to a botched suicide attempt. Additionally, his license to practice law in South Carolina has been suspended and he turned in his license.
Judge Newman ultimately denied bond for Alex Murdaugh. He will remain housed in the Richland County Detention Center where he has been since this past weekend.
Judge Newman is asking for a psychiatric evaluation for Murdaugh. He said further consideration for granting bond will be given following the court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.