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Lawyer says Murdaugh to turn himself in on insurance fraud

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A prominent South Carolina lawyer who found the bodies of his wife and son three months ago plans to turn himself in to face charges in a plot to arrange his own death that ended with the shooter only grazing him in the head, his defense attorneys said.
Alex Murdaugh plans to be in Hampton County to surrender to police Thursday and have a bond hearing, lawyer Jim Griffin told news outlets.
The charges are connected to insurance fraud, Griffin said. Murdaugh asked a previous client whom he was buying drugs from to kill him with a shot to the head on Sept. 4 so his surviving son could collect a $10 million life insurance policy, authorities said.
The State Law Enforcement Division did not confirm any arrest warrants against Murdaugh late Wednesday. Prosecutors did not return a message asking about a possible bond hearing.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said he has been in drug rehab for about 10 days after his law firm fired him over missing money that could total millions of dollars.
If Murdaugh is arrested Thursday, it would culminate a tumultuous 36 hours which saw someone arrested on assisted suicide, insurance fraud and other charges for shooting him in the head, then state police open a sixth investigation into him and his family — this time over the death of a housekeeper and nanny who died in his home.
The woman’s death certificate said she died from natural causes and it wasn’t reported to the Hampton County coroner. But a wrongful death settlement for $500,000 said she was killed in a slip-and-fall at Murdaugh’s home.
Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather all held the office of solicitor in the area for more than 80 years and other family members were prominent civil attorneys in the region. Murdaugh himself was an authorized volunteer prosecutor supporting his father’s cases, a relationship the office severed this month as Murdaugh said he was seeking rehabilitation for an oxycodone addiction.
It all started June 7, when Murdaugh found the bodies of his 52-year-old wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son Paul shot multiple times after returning to their Colleton County home after visiting his sick father.
Those killings remain unsolved, and Murdaugh’s lawyers have said he is adamant he had nothing to do with their deaths.
On Sept. 3, Murdaugh was fired by the PMPED law firm founded by his grandfather after the firm determined he took money.
Murdaugh’s lawyers said he decided to kill himself the next day, but have someone else shoot him. Murdaugh gave Curtis Edward Smith a gun and they headed to lonely Old Salkehatchie Road. Smith fired one shot that only grazed Murdaugh’s head, a State Law Enforcement Division agent said in a sworn statement.
Murdaugh was able to call 911 and his initial story was someone passing in a pickup truck shot at him as he checked a tire that was low on pressure. His lawyers said a week later he told them about the insurance scheme and they told state police.
Smith, 61, was arrested late Tuesday and charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, conspiracy to commit insurance fraud, distribution of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana. He remains in jail and it wasn’t known if he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.
Along with the killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh and the shooting of Alex Murdaugh, the State Law Enforcement Division is also investigating the missing money, whether anyone tried to obstruct an investigation into a 2019 boat crash for which Paul Murdaugh was eventually charged and a July 2015 hit-and-run death in Hampton County.
The agency also announced Wednesday that they are now investigating Gloria Satterfield’s death. Hampton County Coroner Angela Topper asked for the state investigation, saying Satterfield’s death certificate lists she died of natural causes, which is inconsistent with a trip-and-fall accidental death. She said her office was not informed so it could perform an autopsy.
Satterfield’s two sons filed a lawsuit Wednesday saying they haven’t seen any of the $500,000 wrongful death settlement that Murdaugh had friends arrange.
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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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