HAMPTON, S.C. — Events surrounding a prominent South Carolina lawyer tied to multiple death investigations have been spiraling out of control after the state supreme court suspended his law license and his brother spoke out about new allegations against him.
Days before Alex Murdaugh had his law license suspended indefinitely by the South Carolina Supreme Court, his well-known law firm — established by his great-grandfather more than 100 years ago — accused him of misusing the firm’s money.
The news comes months after Murdaugh found his wife, Maggie, and son Paul fatally shot multiple times at their hunting estate in June. At the time, Paul Murdaugh had been awaiting trial on charges of boating under the influence causing death in the February 2019 crash that killed a 19-year-old woman.
Meanwhile amid the investigation into Maggie and Paul’s deaths, state police reopened an investigation into a 2015 hit-and-run death of a 19-year-old man in Hampton County.
Here’s what we know:
Alex Murdaugh’s brother ‘shocked’ by accusations
Randolph “Randy” Murdaugh, IV, said in a statement Wednesday he was “shocked” at the news his brother was accused of misusing firm funds and entering rehab.
Randy Murdaugh is still an active partner at the Peters, Murdaugh, Parker, Eltzroth and Detrick PA (PMPED) law firm in Hampton, South Carolina.
“I love my law firm family and also love Alex as my brother. While I will support him in his recovery, I do not support, condone, or excuse his conduct in stealing by manipulating his most trusted relationships. I will continue to pursue my client’s interests with the highest degree of honesty and integrity, as I always have,” Randy Murdaugh said in the statement.
In a brief order Wednesday, South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty said Alex Murdaugh’s law license was suspended indefinitely, acting at the request of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Alex Murdaugh agreed with the ruling, Beatty wrote.
Alex Murdaugh had announced he resigned Friday but did not elaborate on why. The law firm later released a statement accusing Murdaugh of “misappropriating funds,” saying it had retained a forensic accounting firm and had notified law enforcement.
Alex Murdaugh suffers gunshot wound over Labor Day weekend
On Saturday, Murdaugh called 911 saying he had been shot on a rural road near Varnville in Hampton County.
Murdaugh was airlifted to a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, for treatment of a superficial gunshot wound to the head, and the Hampton County Sheriff’s Office requested state police lead the investigation.
Murdaugh said two days later he was resigning from his family’s law firm.
“The murders of my wife and son have caused an incredibly difficult time in my life. I have made a lot of decisions that I truly regret,” he said in the statement that also announced he was entering rehab.
Alex Murdaugh did not clarify about the treatment, but his brother Randy said it was for drug addiction.
Early June: Paul and Maggie Murdaugh found dead at hunting estate
In an unsolved double homicide, Alex Murdaugh’s 22-year-old son and wife were fatally shot multiple times and found dead June 7 at the family’s Colleton County hunting estate.
Colleton County Coroner Richard Harvey said the bodies were found outside the residence, near a dog kennel, and that both died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.
Alex Murdaugh called 911 to report the deaths, which remain under investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
However, the prosecutor originally tasked with handling the case, Isaac “Duffie” Stone III, stepped down last month. Stone took over as the solicitor of the 14th Judicial Circuit, which covers the counties where the deaths occurred, after a more than 85-year period during which Murdaugh’s father, grandfather and great grandfather filled the elected office.
Stone did not clarify why he was recusing himself from the case in his letter to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, but Alex Murdaugh had volunteered in the prosecutor’s office to assist his father up until his father’s death in June.
Murdaugh’s father was a paid contract employee of the circuit at the time of his death, but spokesman Jeff Kidd said Alex Murdaugh had not helped on a case for the circuit since 2019. Kidd said Wednesday the office had formally ended its relationship with Murdaugh.
Since the killings, Alex Murdaugh and his surviving son, Buster, have offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to an arrest or arrests and convictions.
State police to investigate 2015 homicide
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said June 22 it was opening a homicide investigation into the unsolved death of Stephen Smith, 19.
State police said it was opening the investigation “based upon information gathered during the course of the double murder investigation of Paul and Maggie Murdaugh.”
Smith died on a rural road in Hampton County, in 2015 that was ruled a hit-and-run.
Smith’s mother, Sandy, told the the Hampton County Guardian, part of the USA TODAY Network, in 2015 that she believed her son’s death was the result of foul play and a possible hate crime because her son was gay.
Smith did not reveal the names of the people she thought responsible for her son’s death but said she believed she knew who killed her child.
Paul Murdaugh facing charges in fatal 2019 boat crash
Before his death in June, Paul Murdaugh faced up to three charges in connection with a boating crash on Feb. 24, 2019.
Mallory Beach, 19, of Hampton County, was killed and several other injured in the crash near Parris Island. Beach was first reported missing, and her body located several days later.
Murdaugh was charged with one count of boating under the influence causing death, and two counts of boating under the influence causing great bodily injury. He was given a personal recognizance bond of $50,000 and never jailed. His case was pending – partly for legal reasons and partly because COVID-19 had stalled court proceedings for months.
After his death, charges against Paul Murdaugh were dropped in August as a formality. But Robert Kittle, spokesperson for the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office, said at the time the case remained open.
Meanwhile, Alex Murdaugh and others are facing a wrongful death civil suit filed by Beach’s mother, Renee, on behalf of Mallory’s estate.
Multiple witnesses told law enforcement that Alex Murdaugh and his father responded to the Beaufort County hospital and prevented boat crash survivors from answering questions, legal documents say.
In July, attorneys for Connor Cook, one of the boat crash survivors, also filled a pre-lawsuit discovery petition against the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and other law enforcement agencies. The petition alleges a conspiracy to deflect blame for the crash from Paul Murdaugh to Cook but a civil lawsuit has not been filed.
Source: GANNETT Syndication Service