HAMPTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- Alex Murdaugh, a well-known former lawyer, appeared in a Hampton County bond court Thursday on charges of insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, and filing a false police report.
The charges stemmed from a September 4 incident in which Murdaugh orchestrated a hit job on himself in hopes of securing a $10 million life insurance policy for his only living son.
Muraugh survived, and came clean about being the mastermind behind his own shooting, as well as a decades-long opioid addiction that drove him to misappropriate millions of dollars in funds from his former law firm.
News 2 spoke with a local attorney about what the road ahead looks like for Murdaugh in court.
The first step is a preliminary hearing that Murdaugh would have to request in writing or orally within the next ten days.
“That’s a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to go forward in this case. We would hear testimony from the arresting law enforcement agency who investigated this,” said South Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney Susan E. Williams.
Murdaugh would not have the chance to testify at this hearing, but his attorneys could cross examine law enforcement. If there is enough probable cause for the case from the preliminary hearing, then the process moves along.
“After the preliminary hearing there will be something called a first appearance depending on if Hampton County is issuing dates on those right now,” said Williams.
During the first appearance, the court will see that Murdaugh has attorneys to represent him.
“The first appearance date is about two, two and a half months out from the date that they turn themselves in,” said Williams.
By the time of the second appearance in court, Murdaugh and his attorneys will have reviewed the evidence of the case. Then they’ll decide to go to a trial or accept a plea deal if one is on the table.
“Ultimately the decision is up to Alex himself whether or not he goes to trial. The way that I make that decision with my clients is I go over all of the evidence once we have it,” said Williams.
Williams says that conversations about going to trial cannot happen until all the evidence is examined. If the case goes to trial, it could be as long as a year or two from now.