COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – We are taking a deeper look at a South Carolina attorney’s plea to reduce his $7 million dollar bond. Attorneys for Alex Murdaugh say their client doesn’t have the money to pay such a high bond while attorneys for the state say the embattled attorney remains a threat to himself and those around him.
During the hearing, attorneys in charge of Murdaugh’s assets revealed several bank accounts, protected trusts, property, an estimated $2.2 million retirement fund and more in his control. Attorneys John Lay and Peter McCoy Jr. were appointed by a state judge to oversee the Murdaugh assets through a receivership.
Murdaugh’s lawyers, Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin say their client can’t access any of the assets right now without going through a strict process. Attorneys for the state say victims and others have been threatened for coming forward and speaking which they say should be enough to keep Murdaugh in jail.
“What you’ve heard is there are no available liquid assets for Mr. Murdaugh to post for bond,” said Harpootlian.
Lay says the receivership has uncovered three bank accounts totaling roughly $10,000, million in retirement funds, protected inheritances from both Murdaugh’s late wife Maggie and father Randolph being kept in trusts. The attorneys have also uncovered several properties including four land parcels in Berkeley County among numerous other assets.
“Mr. Murdaugh has assets that are in different categories,” said Lay. “He has liquid assets that we’ve talked about, he’s got protected assets that we’ve talked about, he’s got real estate that we’ve talked about.”
Lay says the receivership plans to hold Murdaugh’s assets preventing him from posting bond or spending the money elsewhere. Harpootlian says it’s why his client’s bond should be reduced but State Chief Attorney Creighton Waters disagrees.
“The law is very clear that is not a test for determining whether or not a bond is excessive versus reasonable,” said Chief Attorney Waters.
Chief Attorney Waters says victims close to Murdaugh have been threatened and believe it’s another reason to not reduce bond.
“They thought he was their friend and he used that to steal money from them and when combined with the influence and power of this family, that danger to the community is very palpable,” said Chief Attorney Waters. “It’s felt by all of these victims.”
Harpootlian says his client has been convicted by the media, has been unable to prepare a defense for the 48 State Grand Jury charges he faces and is being held hostage over his family’s history and influence in Hampton County.
“The guy sitting in front of you in the jail with the mask on, is the only one charged with anything,” says Harpootlian. “He’s not Don Corleone, there’s not some mafia family out there. If there is, then I challenge Mr. Waters to indict them.”
A protected trust including an estimated $360,000 from Murdaugh’s late father Randolph’s estate along with his late wife Maggie’s estate is among numerous assets. Discovery into the assets shows there was no life insurance in place for either his son Paul or wife Maggie, whose murders remain unsolved. Harpootlian says he hopes those murders get more attention.
“Inability to have law enforcement focus on the murders of Paul and Maggie and they are attempting to distract from those murders,” says Harpootlian.
Judge Lee is currently reviewing everything to come out of the hearing and says she plans to issue a written decision on whether she will lower the bond for Murdaugh. Harpootlian asked for 10% of a $500,000 bond for his client.