Alex Murdaugh’s attorney has blamed the prominent South Carolina lawyer’s opioid addiction and depression for the alleged plot to have himself killed so his son could collect on a $10 million insurance policy.
Murdaugh admitted to police Tuesday that he hired a man to kill him on Sept. 4 in a roadside shooting in Varnille – but the planned fatal shot only ended up grazing his head.
His attorney Dick Harpootlian told NBC’s Today on Wednesday that his client was trying to withdraw from opioids and was experiencing “massive depression” when he began plotting how to kill himself.
It is the latest development in a series of bizarre and horrific events for Murdaugh after he found his wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul shot dead three months ago outside the family’s hunting lodge near Islandton.
Since then, his downfall has been highly publicized – including how he was forced out of his law firm after they discovered he’d allegedly taken millions of dollars from the business.
His firing came just one day before he called 911 to say he had been shot in the head on the roadside.
Murdaugh’s attorney said he hatched the plan to have someone kill him so his only surviving child would get his $10 million life insurance policy.
“He believed that $10 million policy had a suicide exclusion,” Harpootlian said. “Suicide exclusions are only good for two years, and he didn’t realize that. So he arranged to have this guy shoot him.
“It was an attempt on his part to do something to protect his child. He didn’t want law enforcement spending time on this fake crime instead of focusing on solving the murders of Maggie and Paul.”
Police arrested Curtis Edward Smith, 61, on Tuesday over the roadside shooting.
Smith is charged with assisted suicide, assault and battery of a high aggravated nature, pointing and presenting a firearm, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit insurance fraud.
Murdaugh allegedly provided Smith with a firearm and directed the man to shoot him in the head, according to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division affidavit.
After the shooting, Smith then fled and ditched the gun.
Murdaugh survived and called 911, initially telling authorities he’d been shot while trying to repair the tire on his Mercedes SUV.
Authorities said at the time he was treated for a “superficial” gunshot wound to the head.
The lawyer announced two days after the shooting that he was going to rehab for an opioid addiction.
“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,” Murdaugh said in a statement without offering any further details.
In addition to investigating the unsolved June 7 killings of Maggie and Paul Murdaugh, state authorities are also looking into the missing money Murdaugh is alleged to have stolen from his firm.
Investigators are also looking into whether anyone tried to obstruct a probe into a fatal 2019 boat crash that Paul Murdaugh was eventually charged in.