Disgraced South Carolina legal scion Alex Murdaugh agreed to a $4.3 million settlement for the family of housekeeper Gloria Satterfield.
During a bond hearing Monday, Murdaugh – now facing 12 state grand jury indictments, containing 48 separate financial crimes charges – spoke out at length publicly for the first time since the still unsolved June 7 murders of his wife, Maggie, and their 22-year-old son, Paul.
A day after a Hampton, South Carolina, law firm confronted Murdaugh for allegedly stealing millions from the practice founded by his great-grandfather and its client, Murdaugh allegedly arranged for a hit man, ex-legal client and distant cousin, Curtis "Fast Eddie" Smith, to shoot him on the side of the road so his surviving son, Buster Murdaugh, could collect on a $10 million life insurance policy.
Murdaugh somehow survived the Sept. 4 botched roadside shooting.
"My world was caving in, much like it had three months earlier," Murdaugh, appearing virtually from a Columbia, South Carolina lock-up, said. "I knew this news was going to deeply hurt my family and everyone who knew me, and humiliate my partners and my son, who's trying to be a lawyer, and who is one of the best young men I've ever known and who deserves none of this. I also knew this would humiliate Maggie's family, who was proud of me and my family's legacy."
"I made a terrible decision that I regret, that I'm sorry for, and quite frankly I'm embarrassed about," Murdaugh continued, according to the Greenville News. "I want to repair as much of the damage as I can, and repair as many of the relationships as I can. My head is on straight now, and I'm thinking clearer than I have in a long time. Your Honor, I have been humbled and surprised by the outpouring of love and support that I have received."
Murdaugh said he had been opioid-free for 98 days and completed 28 days of substance abuse treatment. His lawyer also said Murdaugh agreed to confessing a judgement of $4.3 million to Satterfield’s family and read brief apology for financial transgressions.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the most recent indictments against Murdaugh on Dec. 9. A grand jury issued seven new indictments on 21 charges – nine counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent; seven counts of computer crimes; four counts of money laundering and one count of forgery in alleged schemed to defraud victims of more than $1.3 million.
All 12 indictments combined alleged a total of over $6.2 million in embezzled funds.
Judge Alison Renee Lee granted Murdaugh a $7 million surety bond Monday, specifying he could not pay just 10% of that sum. The judge said she was reluctant to grant bond but state statute forces her hand because the charges do not include a capital offense.
If he does post the whole $7 million, conditions of the bond include house arrest, GPS electronic monitoring, surrendering of passport, waiver of extradition, mandatory mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling and random drug testing.
That was more than the $4.7 million requested by prosecutor Creighton Waters, who argued earlier in the hearing that Murdaugh was a flight risk and danger to others because of his "self-admitted drug addiction" and his family's power and prestige before his "fall from grace."
"Some of the victims have claimed a backlash," Waters said in court, according to Island Packet. "One victim was called a snitch. People are afraid to come forward. ... They need to see a strong message about how serious the system is taking these particular charges, regardless of the name this man carries and the family prestige."
His bond was initially set at $20,000 in September, and he was released on his own recognizance, allowed to travel to out-of-state rehab facilities in Atlanta and Orlando before he was rearrested in October on new charges related to the Satterfield settlements. A different Richland County judge denied bond twice for Murdaugh, even after receiving his psychiatric evaluation.
Eric Bland, representing Satterfield’s estate, also told the judge Monday that Murdaugh had written $2.8 million worth of cashiers check to Smith, the alleged hitman in the botched suicide attempt, money which remains unaccounted for.
In a statement issued through their attorneys after the hearing, the Satterfield family said they were "pleased that Mr. Murdaugh has finally expressed his apologies and has taken a positive step toward resolution by agreeing to confess judgment to Gloria’s sons."
"As devout Christians, the Satterfield family is guided by their belief that in order for them to be forgiven by their heavenly Father, they in turn must forgive others who have sinned against them," the statement said. "But forgiveness, like faith, is not always easy and the family prays for God’s grace to unburden their hearts of the weight created by Alex Murdaugh."