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Judge Says It's Too Risky to Release Murdaugh

SC attorney denied bond in theft case
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2021 2:17 PM CDT
Murdaugh Denied Bond on $3M Theft Charges
Alex Murdaugh attends a bond hearing in the Richland Judicial Center in Columbia, SC, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021.   (AP Photo/Lewis M. Levine, Pool)

(Newser) – A judge denied bond Tuesday for Alex Murdaugh, saying the attorney's considerable financial resources and mental instability appear for now to make it too risky to allow him to await trial outside of jail on charges he stole $3.4 million in insurance money meant for the sons of his housekeeper. Defense attorneys asked Circuit Judge Clifton Newman to release Murdaugh on his own recognizance, as a different judge had in September on charges that he tried to arrange his own death to obtain a $10 million insurance policy, the AP reports. Prosecutors asked for a $200,000 bond and GPS monitoring for the latest charges, obtaining property by false pretenses.

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"I’m not satisfied as to his mental condition,” Newman said, adding that he needed more information. He said he would reconsider his decision after receiving it. One of Murdaugh's attorneys, Dick Harpootlian, said after the hearing that therapists at the drug rehab centers in Georgia and Florida where Murdaugh spent the past six weeks will send their records to a local psychiatrist, who will prepare a report for the judge, hopefully within a week. "We’re more than happy to comply with his request," Harpootlian said, adding of Murdaugh, "He seemed much more clearheaded today than I’ve ever seen him."

Harpootlian and Murdaugh's other attorney, Jim Griffin, have said he is dealing with crushing grief and guilt after finding the bodies of his wife and son shot to death at their home in June. Murdaugh has adamantly denied having anything to do with their deaths and no one has been charged. Harpootlian and Griffin said Murdaugh needs more treatment for an opioid addiction that has lasted for more than a decade. "He's not going to run," Harpootlian said. "That’s not where he is now." The latest charges against Murdaugh involve insurance payments that were supposed to go to the sons of his longtime housekeeper Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 a few weeks after falling at the family’s home. No autopsy was performed and state police said Tuesday in court that they are still investigating the circumstances of her death. (Read more Alex Murdaugh stories.)

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