The complex legal saga of Alex Murdaugh, once a respected attorney in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, continues as he faces sentencing for financial crimes, including schemes against clients and his family’s law firm. On Tuesday, November 28, the family of Gloria Satterfield, Murdaugh’s former housekeeper, will have the opportunity to confront him in court.
Murdaugh, whose public image has undergone a dramatic shift from a grieving family member to a convicted killer, will be sentenced in a South Carolina court on nearly two dozen counts of financial crimes. These charges include money laundering, fraud, and breach of trust, according to state prosecutors. The crimes span over a decade and involve an alleged loss of $8.8 million to the victims.
Murdaugh’s guilty plea to 22 counts of financial crimes, one for each victim, follows a deal with prosecutors suggesting a 27-year prison sentence. This sentence would run concurrently with his federal sentence for similar financial crimes, to which he pleaded guilty in September. Murdaugh, 55, is already serving two consecutive life sentences for the murders of his wife, Margaret, and their younger son, Paul, in June 2021.
Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman, who presided over the hearing earlier this month, expressed his intention to accept the plea deal but emphasized the importance of hearing from the victims. Murdaugh, now disbarred, admitted to the wrongful appropriation of funds during his guilty plea.
Among the victims expected to speak at the sentencing are members of the Satterfield family. Gloria Satterfield, who worked for the Murdaughs as a housekeeper and nanny for over two decades, died in 2018 following a fall at the Murdaugh residence. The life insurance proceeds related to her death were supposed to benefit her two adult sons. However, prosecutors allege that Murdaugh, with the assistance of another lawyer, Cory Fleming, diverted nearly $3.5 million for personal use, leaving the Satterfield sons with nothing. Fleming has since been sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison.
The Satterfield case took a startling turn when it was revealed in a lawsuit filed by Nautilus Insurance Co. that Murdaugh had lied about the circumstances of Satterfield’s fall to secure a substantial settlement. State law enforcement subsequently opened a criminal probe into Satterfield’s death as part of a wider investigation into Murdaugh’s activities.
Murdaugh’s financial crimes played a pivotal role in his double murder trial, where prosecutors argued that he killed his wife and son to gain sympathy and distract from his financial misdeeds. Murdaugh’s defense team is seeking a new trial, alleging jury tampering, a claim the court clerk has denied.
Jim Griffin, one of Murdaugh’s lawyers, stated that Murdaugh accepts responsibility for the financial crimes but maintains his innocence in the murders of his wife and son. Eric Bland, the lawyer representing the Satterfield family, noted that while the family has forgiven Murdaugh, they remain disappointed and will not forget his actions. The upcoming sentencing offers the Satterfield family a chance to directly address Murdaugh, providing a degree of closure in this long-running and complex case.