Alex Murdaugh, who is already serving two consecutive life terms for the fatal shootings of his wife and son in 2021, has entered into a plea deal in a complex financial crimes case in South Carolina. The deal was struck just days before his trial was set to begin, sparing him from further legal proceedings.
Appearing in Beaufort County Court, Murdaugh, shackled and clad in an orange jumpsuit, agreed to plead guilty to various counts, including charges related to insurance settlement funds misappropriated in the case of Gloria Satterfield, the Murdaugh family’s longtime housekeeper.
Chief prosecutor Creighton Waters recommended a 27-year prison sentence, which Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman is expected to finalize during a sentencing hearing on November 28. Newman indicated that he “fully intends” to accept Murdaugh’s guilty plea after hearing from victims.
The state’s case against Murdaugh included a staggering 101 financial-related charges and allegations of an $8.8 million loss to those affected by the schemes he perpetrated against clients and his family’s law firm.
Murdaugh’s murder trial, which concluded in February with his conviction for the murders of his wife, Margaret, and their younger son, Paul, garnered extensive media attention. It revealed a web of financial fraud, a hired hitman plot, drug addiction, and other suspicious deaths associated with the Murdaugh family.
While Murdaugh maintains his innocence in the murder case, he pleaded guilty in federal court in September to nearly two dozen counts of financial fraud and money laundering. The federal plea deal requires him to pay restitution to all identifiable victims, and it involves cooperation with investigators, including possible polygraph tests and testimonies in grand juries or trials.
Two co-conspirators, Cory Fleming, a former lawyer and college roommate, and Russell Laffitte, a former banking CEO, were linked to Murdaugh’s financial schemes. Both have been convicted or pleaded guilty to related charges.
In the case of Gloria Satterfield, who died in 2018 in what was initially described as a “trip and fall accident” at the Murdaugh residence, prosecutors allege that Murdaugh directed Fleming to draft checks amounting to nearly $3.5 million to an account for his personal benefit, leaving Satterfield’s adult sons with no share of the funds.
Murdaugh’s attorneys emphasized that he has never denied committing financial crimes, which he generally admitted to during his murder trial. They underscored that he is willing to serve prison time for these offenses but vehemently denies involvement in the murders of his wife and son.
Murdaugh’s quest for a new trial in the murder case centers on allegations of jury tampering, which his legal team has leveled against the court clerk. However, the clerk has denied the accusations. As the case proceeds, Judge Newman has recused himself from any further involvement due to his potential status as a witness.